Gloucester City claimed all three points in their penultimate game at Whaddon Road as they saw off a very resilient relegation-threatened Stalybridge Celtic.
It was clear from the opening of the game that Stalybridge had more riding on the result than their opponents, as the Celts tried to make their mark on the game early on.
Daniel Pilkington had the first attempt on goal for either side as he scuffed an effort straight at Jasbit Singh from the edge of the box.
Adam Mather found himself in space on the corner of the box but sliced a poor shot wide of the post after some good work by the visitors to get the ball in that position.
The Tigers were getting into the game a bit more as Lewis Hall’s long ball over the top found Zack Kotwica clear and after racing into the box, he shot low at Grant Shenton.
Singh had to be alert as he atoned for a wayward pass as Pilkington broke into the area but the Tigers stopper stood tall to block the shot.
A positive looking move from the Tigers broke down as Kotwica became isolated with the ball in the corner and eventually Reece King’s cross floated wide.
A long break in play followed as Pilkington went down with a serious looking non-contact injury as he got his foot stuck in the turf as he turned.
The second half was a much more fiery affair than the first and that was immediately apparent as Stalybridge’s captain Matthew Hughes was sent off for an off the ball incident with Luke Hopper.
King and Kotwica combined with some fantastic build up play and the latter shot but credit has to go to Shenton who made an equally as good save.
The midfielder and winger linked up again in the area as the Kotwica volleyed over at the far post after a delicious lob from King.
City escaped as Dunbar’s low free kick cannoned off the far post and away, and soon after the Tigers were ahead.
Some stunning control by Hall set Kotwica away who crossed to Hopper, who only had to tap the ball home from two yards after Shenton spilled it.
Stalybridge were level though after a questionable free kick was given against Thomas on the corner of the box and from that, the ball was driven all the way in and past Singh by Dunbar.
City weren’t to be kept down though, and Hopper had his second goal of the afternoon as Hanks delivered a rasping free kick to the near post that was met by the flick on of the striker, leaving Shenton no chance.
With time ticking away Stalybridge rallied and nearly got something out of the game, but City defended resolutely to claim a good three points that guarantees them a top half finish.
Gloucester City: Singh, Thomas, Hall, Hamilton, Avery, King (Parker 70), Hanks, Webb (c), Hopper, Kotwica, McGrory (Mullings 60).
Subs not used: Williams, Knowles, Moseley.
Stalybridge Celtic: Shenton, Morton, Wisdom, Hughes (c), Mather, Chalmers, Dunbar, Regan, Bishop (Wilkins 71), Roberts (Ahmadi 76), Pilkington (Gee 43).
Subs not used: Platt, Bakare.
Referee: Aaron Jackson.
Star man: Lewis Hall