IN A game of two halves, Basingstoke Town held on for a vital 3-2 victory over a direct South Park side as the race for playoffs looks set to go right down to the wire.

A brace from Conor Lynch – his 23rd and 24th of the season – alongside a long-range strike from McKoy Palmer were enough to keep Town in the playoff places with three games to go.

While away form has been consistently strong, ‘Stoke’s playoff push has been hampered by occasional poor results at home, so a quick start put the home crowd at ease.

Palmer beat visiting keeper Zak Basey to a ball in behind and squared for Lynch to tuck home his first inside eight minutes before finding the net himself with a trademark 30-yarder ten minutes later.

Lynch had missed a gilt-edged chance in-between, and George Reid lifted a bouncing cross just off target, but South Park pulled one back with their only chance of the half, Mathew MacKenzie’s long throw falling kindly for Sam King who swivelled and finished smartly.

The two-goal cushion was restored before the break though as Lynch lifted his second over Basey.

Nathan Smart made a goal-saving block in the second half from substitute Nathan Hogan but midway through the half the Sparks halved the deficit once again.

South Park had tried to play more direct in the second half and their main attacking threat came through the incredible range of MacKenzie’s throw-ins.

The visitors’ second goal came from another of them, centre-back Joe Bell eventually bundling the ball over the line amid a pile of bodies in the six-yard box.

South Park’s aerial bombardment of the Basingstoke box continued for the final twenty minutes with throw-ins from anywhere in the attacking half being sent into the danger area but the ‘Stoke defence held firm and only a fingertip save from Basey stopped Lloyd Snell adding a fourth goal late on.