Rob Roy defied injury and illness to maintain their four-point lead at the top of the table with a hard-fought win over Cumnock on Saturday.
Despite also having to play the final 15 minutes with 10 men, the Kirkintilloch side held on to carry their advantage into the new year.
Resources were so stretched that manager Stewart Maxwell had to name himself and coach Kevin Finlayson as substitutes.
However the first chance fell to Rabs after Luke Whelan broke from defence to free Gavin Mackie on the left, only for his well-placed effort to be headed clear.
At the other end Rabs keeper Michael McKinven saved at the feet of Callum McRobbie as the Nok player broke into the Rabs box.
Play was mainly in the Cumnock half and Rabs should have taken an early lead following a goalkeeping error with Jordan McGuire firing wide when in front of goal.
They continued to press. Mackie’s free-kick was punched clear by keeper Darren Johnstone, Shaun Fraser rifled a shot over the bar from inside the penalty area and Craig Buchanan’s close range effort drifted past the post.
But Rabs failed to capitalise on so much first half possession and the sides went in at the break even.
Two minutes into the second period Nock’s Paul Burns had his shot blocked in a desperate goalmouth scramble.
After the dour first period the second half was more entertaining. Lee Gallacher sent a 25 yard free-kick flashing high past Johnstone’s upright, then Fraser’s 22 yard volley was superbly finger-tipped past his post by the Cumnock keeper.
In the 52nd minute Rabs squandered a great chance to take the lead after Mackie sent Kevin Watt through on a one to one with Johnstone but he shot inches wide.
McKinven made a couple of good saves from Adam Hunter then McRobbie as Cumnock began to haul themselves back into contention.
But Rabs were awarded a penalty on the hour mark when Gallacher was brought down just inside of the box by Josh Watt in what looked like minimal contact. Kevin Green took the spot-kick, sending Johnstone the wrong way to give the home side the lead.
With 15 minutes remaining Rob Roy were reduced to 10 men when Mackie was shown a straight red card for a rash tackle on Andy Muir.
It was backs to the wall for them as the Ayrshire side stepped up their search for the equaliser but the rock-solid Rabs defence gave nothing away with Green having an outstanding game in central defence.