Frickley Athletic were back to winning ways in dramatic style against Skelmersdale United in a six-pointer in the Evo-Stik Premier League.
Despite being up against a side reduced to 10 men in the first minute and despite opening up a two-goal lead it looked like the Blues had thrown victory away only for new boy Joe Pugh to come up with an injury-time winner to seal a crucial 3-2 win.
The importance of the success can be seen with Frickley now opening up a 10-point gap on Skelmersdale, who dropped to the bottom with this defeat, and they are now six points above the relegation zone.
Amazingly Skelmersdale were reduced to 10 men in the first 10 seconds after right-back Jack Watts’s dangerous tackle on Jack Waters was punished with a red card.
Having to play so long with a man down obviously played a big part in the match with the visitors forced to adopt a defensive formation and the pattern quickly set with the Blues having to work hard to break them down.
Andre Johnson had an early chance, set up by Curtly Martin-Wyatt, but the Skelmersdale keeper denied him.
Tyler Williams was a big threat down the left, but Frickley were unable to make their good approach play count as the first half ended goalless.
Manager Lee Morris brought himself on at half-time in place of Johnson and there was a little improvement with Macauley Parkinson sending a shot wide.
Pugh, on loan from Doncaster Rovers, was introduced as a second substitute, for Martin-Wyatt, but it was from a different source that the Blues made the breakthrough just after the hour mark. Sebastian Malkowski’s goal-kick was headed on by Morris and Gary Stohrer raced on to do the rest with a coolly struck lob that sent the ball over keeper Chris Cheetham into the net.
Twelve minutes later it was 2-0 as Luke Mangham struck from a goalmouth scramble following a Parkinson free-kick.
With the hosts still two up with five minutes to play they looked to cruising to a routine victory, but Skelmersdale had other ideas as Harry Blackburn netted then struck again in the 89th minute to make it 2-2 despite a point blank save by Malkowski.
However, the Blues came up with one final throw of the dice as a corner was half-cleared and the ball was put back in by Parkinson for Pugh to score a goal that sparked wild scenes of celebration and could prove so important at the end of the season.