Cinderford Town’s push for the Hellenic Premier play-offs is still alive after edging past Longlevens at Saw Mills, on Friday night.
Blaine Waugh’s first half header was enough to see Matt Driscoll’s side run out 1-0 winners on a tough and competitive evening in Gloucester.
Waugh was shown a second yellow card in injury time, on the only blemish for the Foresters – who now find themselves only seven points outside the play-offs, with as many as four games in hand over some of the chasing pack.
For Longlevens, since their dismal display at home to Slimbridge nearly a fortnight ago, they have now played in three close home fixtures in succession and have narrowly suffered defeat on two of out three occasions.
The match started like a game of chess, with both sides methodically feeling their way into the contest.
Cinderford won a succession of corners and free kicks around the Longlevens box, with a goalbound volley headed away by Luke Hitchman after Ash Wintle got nowhere near claiming the delivery.
From their next corner, the ball was recycled and left back Drew Heffernan’s hooked effort towards goal was tame for Wintle.
Longlevens found shots on target at a high premium in their defeat on Tuesday night, but midfielder Josh Barlow brought a good save from James Smallcombe low to his left, with 10 minutes to go until half time.
And just as the half looked like it would end goalless, a ball in from the right hand side was planted into the bottom corner by a Blaine Waugh header.
The goal ignited Cinderford, who nearly made it two moments later – but a combination of Hitchman and Wintle blocked Craig Norman’s efforts to slide the ball home from close range.
Cinderford thought they had doubled their lead in first half stoppage time as Ethan Hayes got in space and fired home – but celebrations were halted by the offside flag.
The second half started slowly, in similar fashion to the first, with both sides cagey.
Shiyak Sutherland, who is set to join Slimbridge next week, fired a free kick into the wall just past the hour mark, before Luke Hitchman headed a corner against the crossbar.
Michael Palmer shuffled his deck and the substitutes saw Longlevens work their way right back into the contest – especially when club-captain Shaun O’Connor was introduced on 79 minutes.
Longlevens’ big chance to level came with four minutes to go, as the ball fell to sub Callum McLean on the left side of the box and the young defender cut back and curled an effort that beat Smallcombe, only for Dan Barnard to make a great goal saving header.
In the final moments of the game, Blaine Waugh was issued a second yellow card after committing a foul and appearing to talk out of turn – it wasn’t overly clear from the stands what the second yellow was for in all honesty.
But Cinderford saw the game out well enough in the end and know that their destiny is still much in their own hands.
Currently occupying 10th place in the table, Driscoll’s side know that if they win their games in hand over the chasing pack, then they are in with a massive shot of making the play-offs.
Next up for the Foresters is a home fixture against Mangotsfield United on Tuesday night, whilst Longlevens have a crucial game at the bottom end of the table at Thornbury Town.
Longlevens: Wintle, Parker, Barnett, Long, Hitchman, Timbrell, Barlow, Finch, Sutherland, Dobbins, Beardsell
Subs: McLean, Haswell, O’Connor, Aldridge, Hopkins
Cinderford Town: Smallcombe, Davies, Heffernan, Vine, Barnard, Evans, Hayes, Watkins, Norman, Morgan, Waugh
Subs: Brain, Lewis, Jones, Skidmore
C Martin Roofing Man of the Match – Dan Barnard (Cinderford Town)