Eastleigh twice came from behind before beating Whitehawk 3-2 at a soaking wet Silverlake Stadium – a result which coincided with defeats for Skrill Conference South title rivals Bromley and Sutton United.
Bromley lost 1-0 at Havant & Waterlooville and Sutton United crashed 3-2 at lowly Maidenhead United.
It means Eastleigh take a five-point lead into Tuesday night’s crunch match in North Kent.
Relegation threatened Whitehawk stunned the Spitfires by snatching a seventh minute lead.
Richard Rose weaved his way in on the right-hand side of the box and picked out Hawks top scorer DANNY MILLS, who headed his 13th goal of the season past Ross Flitney.
But seven minutes later BEN WRIGHT grabbed a stunning equaliser, drilling a sublime 25-yarder past the despairing arms of goalkeeper Chris Winterton.
Eastleigh forced several corners but much changed Hawks counter-attacked effectively with Dean McDonald pulling the midfield strings.
The greasy surface contributed to a lively encounter which swung Whitehawk’s away on the half hour when Will Evans conceded a penalty – awarded on the advice of the referee’s assistant for a rather needless challenge on the sprawling Mills.
Former Brighton midfielder JAKE ROBINSON sent Flitney the wrong way from the spot to restore Hawk’s lead.
But three minutes later Eastleigh were back on level terms at 2-2 from a Michael Green corner.
CHRIS TODD climbed at the far post to win an aerial challenge with goalkeeper Winterton, who was stuck on his line.
Before half-time and with things becoming feisty, Eastleigh skipper Glenn Southam was booked just before Flitney flung himself to his right to deny Steve Smith.
Ten minutes into the second half Eastleigh grabbed what proved to be their third and winning goal.
STUART FLEETWOOD drilled a low shot into the goalmouth, which cannoned off defender Sami El-Abd and past the goalkeeper for the winner.