NANTWICH kept up their pursuit of a top-two finish with this win over Atherton.
Goals from Murray McCulloch and Andy Kinsey moved them within two points of second-placed Salford City with a game in hand.
Manager Steve Davis was delighted with the win, but added: 'There were a couple of moments when we nodded off but poor finishing by their strikers failed to trouble Rob Hackney.
'However, the lads worked very hard and thoroughly deserved the victory. Sides that are fighting to stay in the division will give you nothing and only hard graft produces a result.'
Davis was forced to change the line-up that drew with FC United last weekend after striker Andy Bott was ruled out with a foot injury.
Nantwich held the majority of possession on a poor surface during the opening quarter hour and were rewarded with their opening goal in the 20th minute.
From a move just inside their own half involving Paul Taylor, Phil Parkinson and Stuart Scheuber, the ball was threaded to Gyorgy Kiss who weaved his way past three defenders before laying into the path of Kinsey who struck a first-time volley from 16 yards.
But defender Paul Donnelly was forced to leave the pitch having pulled up with a damaged hamstring just seconds later.
Atherton gradually acquired more of the possession but it was thanks to the heroics of Dabbers keeper Hackney that his side held on to the lead when he diverted a close-range strike from midfielder Derefarka.
Wayward Nantwich finishing kept the score-line unchanged until the 40th minute when Town left-back Taylor struck the crossbar with a fierce shot that rebounded into the path of McCulloch who made no mistake from 12 yards.
In the second half, Kinsey spurned a golden opportunity when his strike from an excellent square delivery from Phil Parkinson was deflected away from the net by the legs of a defender.
Nantwich were spared their blushes when Atherton substitute striker Givin produced an awful finish to a close-range shot after they momentarily slumbered.
Danny Griggs and James Marrow had chances to increase the scoreline but were unlucky with their efforts.
* Nantwich hosted St Helens Town in the last ever midweek league game to be played at Jackson Avenue as the Chronice went to press last night.