Ossett Town traveled across the M62 for the away fixture at Ramsbottom United hoping to improve on the 1-1 home draw earlier in the month.
The Reds went into this game on the back of a respectable 2-1 win over play off hopefuls Glossop Town, a solid performance given a heavily depleted Ossett squad.
Ramsbottom had not secured a win in the month of February so Town were presented with a real opportunity to get back on track to push for the play off places.
Ramsbottom had added strength to their squad with manager Mark Fell bringing in Jay Sheridan and Chinedu Uche on loan from Oldham Athletic, defender Ryan Ellison, Adam Sumner from Lancaster City and the experienced ex FC United striker Sam Madely.
Reds manager Lee Ashforth had a very limited squad to choose from for this fixture with 7 key players not available for selection. The ever growing list included Sam Wright and Corey Gregory both suspended, Anthony Mackie & Mick Fargher (injured), Alex Low, Craig Nelthorpe and Seon Ripley (all unavailable).
Lee Ashforth refrained from adding to the squad in midweek showing faith in the younger players yet to make a first team start. The shortage of available players for selection gave a real opportunity for Ex Doncaster Rovers youth player Kane Bingley as he made his debut in a midfield holding position and a first start for U21's youngster Charlie Freeman partnering Captain Alex Peterson up front. In defence Fabian Bailey moved to left back allowing Ash Jackson to play as a centre back with Jake Ellam starting at right back.
On a bright sunny day the game kicked off in front of 156 spectators with Ossett Town straight onto the front foot and looking strong going forward.
In the 7th minute the referee unfairly showed Greg Daniels a yellow card which was really unnecessary so early in the game.
Nicky Boshell had a half chance for the Reds from the edge of the box but his shot was aimed straight at the keeper.
The Reds had most of the possession without creating any goal scoring opportunities, it was the home side who had the first real chance of the game with Jerome Wright firing over the bar from 20 yards.
As Ryan Ellison broke free in a dangerous position, debutante Kane Bingley was shown a yellow card for pulling the player back.
On 24 minutes a breakaway from the Rams saw Sam Madely put in a great ball but Greg Daniels just failed to get on the end of it.
The home side were awarded a free kick after Issac Assenso missed the ball completely and brought down a Rams player with a high tackle which earned him a yellow card.
Jason Yates fired in Towns first attempt on goal in the 24th minute but it was straight at Sam Ashton in the Ramsbottom goal.
As the first half came to a close it looked to all intent and purpose the sides would go in level, that nearly changed on 41 minutes when Rams new signing, left back Jay Sheridan cut in from the left and from a tight angle hit the post.
In the 43rd minute, disaster for Ossett Town as Kane Bingley was pulled up for standing over the ball at a Rams free kick and was shown a 2nd yellow and sent off, another poor and unnecessary decision by the referee. The youngster had shown real quality on his first start and was arguably the best player on the pitch up until this point and hopefully he will learn from this incident. On a positive note, he showed he can compete at this level.
Town down to ten men as the teams leave the field at half time level at 0-0 in a first half devoid of any clear cut scoring opportunities.
It would have been easy for Reds manager Lee Ashforth to change to a more defensive 4-4-1 formation and look to go home with a point but to his credit he was brave and stayed with an attacking 4-3-2 set up which proved to be the right decision by the end of the game.
The home side had the first shot of the second half when in the 49th minute Eddie Moran watched his shot fly just over the bar.
Ten man Town had to sustain 15 minutes of concerted pressure from Ramsbottom but the back four of Jake Ellam, Issac Assenso, Ash Jackson and Fabian Bailey defended with resilience to deny any real chances on goal until the 63rd minute of the game when a fierce Eddie Moran shot was brilliantly saved by Leigh Overton in the Ossett Goal.
On 66 minutes the Rams manager made a double substitution replacing Sam Madely and Greg Daniels with Phil Dean and Lee Gaskell in an attempt to put more pressure on the Ossett defence.
Ossett Town had withstood everything the home side had thrown at them and started to create more going forward and in doing so won a free kick 40 yards out in the 69th minute. Martin Pembleton who had played most of the game with an ankle problem sustained early in the match took the free kick, the kick found youngster Charlie Freeman on the far right hand side of the box and he rose first to head a great ball back across the penalty area, the ball dropped to the tireless Jason Yates with his back to the goal and his clever first time contact put the ball into the net with the Rams defence and keeper left helpless by the quality of his clever flick.
The Ossett goal exacted an immediate response from the Rams bench with the tall and experienced striker Sam Heathcote replacing Jamie Rother. Sam Heathcote was not a welcome sight as it was he who scored a late equaliser in the reverse fixture at Ingfield 3 weeks ago.
Ossett were now seeing more possession of the ball and putting pressure on the home defence as Ramsbottom pushed players forward in search of an equaliser. A long clearance from defence found Freeman 45 yards out from the Rams goal and as he attempted to hold the ball up he was fouled. Pembleton took the free kick in the 79th minute which found Yates on the edge of the box and as he headed the ball towards the keeper, the ball dropped 8 yards out and it was Charlie Freeman who met the ball first and volleyed into the net for his first senior goal for the club, giving keeper Ashton absolutely no chance.
2-0 to Ossett Town.
The Reds made a substitution in the 88th minute with veteran Steve Nicholson (Asst Manager) replacing Freeman.
The Reds saw out 4 minutes of extra time added by the referee to seal a much deserved 2-0 win away from home.
This was a superb team effort from the Ossett players with Leigh Overton quick off his line and collecting every high ball pumped into his area. The back four showed real confidence and composure in dealing with everything that the Rams attack presented to them. The midfield controlled their area of play and even after Bingley was sent off the remaining trio of Yates, Boshell and Pemberton still had the better of the play. Up front Captain Alex Peterson and Charlie Freeman had the thankless task of defending from the front and both worked tirelessly for the team giving everything they had for 94 minutes.
The win leaves The Reds in 13th place in the league on goal difference or joint 10th on points whichever way you choose to look at it and six points off the play off positions with a nine point cushion over Atherton Colliery the next team below us.
Lee Ashworth will be desperate to get his full squad back available as soon as possible as a difficult fixture list is imminent in March starting with the next home game at Ingfield against play off challengers Tadcaster Albion on March 3rd, kick off 3pm.