THORNBURY Town took a big stride towards confirming their place in next season's Hellenic League Premier after a shock win at Fairford Town on Saturday.

Andreas Smolka and Jens Chigozie Ude scored the goals as The Thorns moved nine points clear of bottom-of-the-league Wantage Town.

With two games left, they are all but safe and only require a point to make it mathematically certain.

Looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats against teams around them, Thornbury started with intent. Harry Brock and Stanley Wyatt combined early on for the first major opening only for the former to shoot wide, while Jamal Lawrence's burst forward for the hosts saw him hammer an effort off target.

Luke Franklin's switch pass set Brock in the clear again only to fire wide, while the pair combined again shortly after in reverse roles after a fantastic Brock run had led to a lay-off for Franklin that was well saved by Fairford shot-stopper Ben Mitchell.

Thornbury's attacking pressure was rewarded with the afternoon's opener on 26 minutes.

An overhit Franklin corner was gathered by Wyatt and Nathan Sage and the latter shipped a cross into the box that was met by the on-rushing Smolka to open his account in a Thornbury shirt.

Fairford had Mitchell to thank when he denied Fraser Moss with a low shot, while the home side's goalkeeper was busy again to deny Sage when he headed a Franklin corner at goal.

After the break, it was the turn of Thornbury goalkeeper Adam Clark to make some vital saves.

Ben Lodge was denied by with a good block after Fairford had raced forward, while Danny Way's header was also acrobatically steered away from danger before another stop saw Charlie McCrae halted with a crucial reactive save.

Clark's heroics enabled Thornbury to go on and secure the all-important second goal.

This time Smolka turned provider, popping up on the right with an incisive run before he crossed low into the box for Ude to sweep home to double Thornbury's lead.

It was nearly de ja vu minutes later when Franklin's diagonal pass into Smolka saw him burst into the box again to cross low, but this time Ude's effort took a deflection before being gratefully gathered by Mitchell.

Fairford again tried their luck with a couple of opportunities. Joe Shutt's shot fell just past the post, while another Way attempt was wayward.

The result means Thornbury are already safe as their goal difference is far superior to Wantage's, who came incredibly close to toppling league leaders Worcester City on Monday, which could easily have dragged Thornbury right back into the mix at the bottom.

But they now look set for another season at Step 5 in 2024/25.