Gloucester City took a giant leap towards survival with a slender victory against Stalybridge Celtic in a Skrill North relegation six-pointer. \r\n\r\nCharlie Griffin’s first half header sealed manager Tim Harris’ fourth win in five games and skyrocketed the Tigers to a five point gap above the relegation zone.\r\n\r\nCity’s defence were rock solid throughout, particularly Jack Harris, but Celtic came devilishly close to equalising through Sean McConville three minutes from time, although his effort glanced off the crossbar.\r\n\r\nTigers forward Adam Mann and McConville both had goals chalked off for offside in the first half; but in the end Griffin’s header proved the knockout blow.\r\n\r\nOn a chilly afternoon at Whaddon Road the visitors took the iniative with McConville peeling off at the back post but dragging his attempt wide.\r\n\r\nThat spurred Tim Harris’ troops into action with Jake Gosling delivering a superb ball onto the head of Matt Groves who couldn’t place his header on target.\r\n\r\nMann and Griffin both peppered Danny East’s goal with efforts as the Tigers limited Stalybridge to only one meaningful attack in the first 25 minutes.\r\n\r\nMcConville did have the ball into the net after being played through over the top, but the assistant referee rightfully adjudged the Stalybridge forward to have been offside.\r\n\r\nIt was then City’s turn to feel the wrath of the linesman as Mann tucked the ball past East after collecting up Griffin’s wayward shot; but the former Shortwood United man was clearly in an offside position.\r\n\r\nThe Tigers took the lead shortly after with Billy Jones’ wicked free-kick finding Griffin rising at the back post to power home; his sixth goal in under a month since signing from Brackley Town.\r\n\r\nThe Tameside outfit began to find their feet after a lacklustre opening with Josh Green, Matt Regan and Jack Ryan all dragging shots wide from distance.\r\n\r\nCity attacked and Gosling dazzled with a brilliant ball to find Mann who, behind two Stalybridge defenders, unleashed a surprise effort that drilled wide of the post.\r\n\r\nStalybridge replied with Paul Ennis finding some space on the right and fizzing a shot across Green and wide; followed immediately by McConville shooting over after capitalising on a defensive lapse.\r\n\r\nThe Bower Fold side began the second period with intent forcing Mike Green to make numerous saves from all angles.\r\n\r\nFirstly, McConville, who was a nuisance the entire game, found space on the edge of the penalty area only to see Green tip the ball, at full stretch, over the bar.\r\n\r\nThe City shot stopper followed this with a second fantastic save, rushing out to deny substitute Obi Anoruo a goal with his first touch of the game.\r\n\r\nIt was then Ryan Croasdale’s turn to test the former Bristol Rovers man in the penalty area, but Green was more than a match yet again.\r\n\r\nWith Green earning some respite, Cheltenham Town loanee Hanks bombed forward to cannon the ball twice at the Stalybridge backline before Lewis Hogg’s piledriver attempt from 30 yards whizzed wide.\r\n\r\nCeltic pushed for an equaliser and came inches from earning a point with McConville dribbling down the touchline only to see his eventual effort glance of the crossbar and cleared away; a huge let-off for the Tigers.\r\n\r\nSubstitute Joe Parker then managed to conjure a shot from nothing that deflected inches wide of the upright that would’ve put the game out of sight for the Tigers.\r\n\r\nAnoruo couldn’t keep a late header on target and, with that, saw City victorious with a precious three points that elevates the club further away from the mire of relegation and into the security of mid-table.\r\n\r\nGloucester City: M. Green, M. Roome, B. Jones, M. Coupe, J. Harris, J. Hanks, L. Hogg, M. Groves (Parker 59), A. Mann, C. Griffin (Jarvis 59), J. Gosling (Morford 76)\r\n\r\nSubs not used: M. Giglio, R. Winters\r\n\r\nGoals: Griffin 27\r\n\r\nStalybridge Celtic: D. East, O. Crowley, A. McWilliams, D. Rowe, M. Regan, J. Green (Platt 61), P. Ennis, R. Croasdale, J. Ryan (Anoruo 56), S. McConville, L. Dickinson\r\n\r\nSubs not used: A. Pepper, A. Parkhouse, J. Cookson\r\n\r\nAttendance: 339\r\n\r\nStar man: Jack Harris – An absolute colossus at the back, winning everything on the floor or in the air.
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