Glossop North End bounced back from their biggest defeat of the season with another late goal to edge past fellow play-off contenders Colne on Saturday.
Report by Adam Higgins
Pictures by Steve Dyson
Ben Richardson headed home the only goal with three minutes remaining to give the Hillmen a vital three points in a closely-fought encounter at Surrey Street.
It allowed Chris Willcock’s side to immediately get last week’s heavy 7-2 defeat at lowly Prescot Cables out of their system and leapfrog their Lancashire opponents in the process, moving back up to fourth place and level on points with third-top Ossett Town with just two games remaining.
On a bobbly pitch and with the wind blowing heavily, conditions were difficult for both sides and contributed to a tight game with a lack of goalmouth activity, particularly in the first half.
The first effort of the game came from Glossop’s leading scorer Max Leonard, who fired a low shot on the turn from the edge of the box which was pushed wide by Greg Hartley.
The Colne keeper also did well to clear the danger when the menacing Mike Norton made a penetrating run into the area.
Backed by vocal support from a healthy away following, the visitors’ best sighting of goal in the first half came when Michael Morrison saw his shot fisted away by Hillmen stopper Jonathan Musangu.
Phil Dean, a former Salford City player, also had a shot blocked inside the box after a fine run down the right wing by Connor Gaul and another effort deflected wide from Spencer Jordan’s knockdown.
The in-form Colne, who had won their previous six league games, started the second half the stronger of the sides as Adam Morning rifled a shot over the crossbar before captain Simon Nangle had a shot cleared off the goal-line.
But a resurgent Glossop seized control as the half wore on, winning a series of corners which the Colne defence struggled to deal with.
From those deliveries, Leonard saw a stabbed effort deflected wide and Iwan Heeley’s header looped into the grateful gloves of Hartley before Norton and Richardson came close.
The opportunities continued to present themselves as Martin Parker’s shot was spilled back into the danger zone before Norton appeared to be bundled over as he attempted to meet the follow-up but referee was unmoved.
At the other end, Colne could have taken the lead themselves when Morning’s cross from the left wing fell to Nangle at the far post but he was at full stretch and volleyed the ball over the bar.
The pressure was mainly building on the Colne goal, however, as first Norton, then substitute Dale Johnson, followed by Leonard came close in quick succession before Adam Jones headed over the resulting corner.
But, in a dramatic finale Glossop fans have become accustomed to seeing in recent months, the hosts went ahead in the 87th minute.
Leonard’s wayward left-footed shot from the edge of the box was set to fly wide of the post before Richardson connected with a powerful header which flew into the net to send Surrey Street wild.
But ecstasy quickly turned to agony for the midfielder, who was forced off not long after scoring with a knock and replaced by Eddie Moran, making a long-awaited return from injury himself.
With Nicky Platt coming on for Norton soon afterwards too, Glossop held firm to see out the closing stages and record a significant victory to give their play-off ambitions a much-needed boost.
The Hillmen travel to local rivals Mossley on Easter Monday before closing the regular league campaign at home to second-placed Lancaster City next Saturday.
Glossop North End: Musangu, Parker, Dugdale, Hurtley, Rick, Andrews, Heeley (Johnson 70), Jones, Norton (c) (Platt 89), Leonard, Richardson (Moran 88).
Subs not used: Jones, Lowe.
Booked: Heeley, Leonard
Goals: Richardson (87′)
Colne FC: Hartley, Gaul (Lynch 65), Pugh, Coleman, Ayres, Nangle (c), Dean, Jordan, Wood (Hart 65), Morning, Morrison.
Subs not used: Turner (GK), Southworth.
Referee: Mr C Brown