OLD Boltonians maintained their 16-point gap over Prestwich in the two-horse race for the Premier Division title.
But with Prestwich winning 2-1 at Little Lever, the reigning champions could still pip the Bolton men if they win their seven games in hand.
Julian Stevens’ full-strength Bolts bounced back from the disappointment of dropping two points with the last kick of the game against Tottington seven days earlier by dominating at Old Mancunians.
Dean Hailwood, a big success since arriving from Turton after Christmas, produced a carbon copy of his inspired goal against Tottington when he chipped the keeper from distance at a difficult angle.
His fourth goal in five games gave Old Bolts a 25th-minute lead, and Darren Dalton doubled the advantage on 55 minutes when he latched on to a through ball from Paul Wheatcroft, sold the centre-half a clever dummy and finished coolly.
Little Lever almost dented Prestwich’s charge, although it took them a half to get going.
“It was men against boys in the first half, and we were the boys,” said Lever manager Lee Buckley.
“They annihilated us for 45 minutes, then in the second half we showed why we are up there in the league. With determination and fight, we got one back and the last 10 minutes was an onslaught by us.
“We threw everything at them, Adam Clark hit the bar and we were disappointed not to come away with a point.”
Prestwich went 2-0 up in the first 15 minutes and dominated without Little Lever showing too much resistance up to half time.
The Mytham Road men, playing their first of five games in eight days, were a different team after the break, Andy Bingham halving the lead with a hard, low free kick midway through the period.
The two sides meet again in the reverse league fixture tomorrow night.
Castle Hill look certain to finish third after a 6-4 victory at Howe Bridge Mills.
Jason Perry grabbed a hat-trick, Lee Smith scored two and Andre Deveres one as Castle Hill came back from going an early goal, always keeping their noses in front after taking the lead.
Castle Hill are at home to Bolton County in the Hospital Cup tomorrow night.