A first half goal from Reece King saw the ten men of Hednesford Town take all three points as the Pitmen moved into mid-table after a narrow victory over Stalybridge Celtic.
This game was Hednesford’s final home fixture of the season and after being unbeaten in their previous four at Keys Park they were looking to keep the good run going and with it all but confirm a place at step three level for another season.
It was the visitors who started the brighter though and former Hednesford man Michael Howard whistled an effort just over the crossbar in the sixth minute before going down in the penalty area – with his appeals for a spot-kick being waved away.
Hednesford would take the lead in the 15th minute though when a long Ben Bailey throw once again caused problems for an opposition defence with the ball being flicked home by Reece King from six yards out.
Two minutes later the hosts went close to adding a second as midfielder Alex-Ray Harvey played in a delightful free kick that picked out Bradley Wells but the striker saw his header saved.
Celtic almost drew themselves level in the 23rd minute as Hednesford failed to clear their lines but goalkeeper Jake Weaver was somehow able to turn Howard’s shot over the crossbar – to the amazement of most inside Keys Park.
There was little in terms of clear goalmouth action in the remainder of the half as the Pitmen held onto their lead into the half-time break.
Six minutes into the second half their task of taking three points would be made harder after they were reduced to ten men when striker Dan Sweeney was sent off for lashing out at an opponent in an off the ball incident.
Stalybridge now sensed their chance with another former Pitmen striker in Dan Cockerline blazing a shot over the crossbar from 30 yards after the space opened up for him.
He would have an even better chance in the 78th minute as he was picked out inside the six-yard box but his effort was tame and rolled into the grateful hands of Weaver.
Ben Bailey was called into making a fine block six minutes later but the expected late onslaught from the visitors never really materialised and the hosts were able to play out time to move up to 12th place in the league table.
Hednesford now end their campaign with journeys to Gainsborough Trinity on Good Friday and Witton Albion on the final day of the season.
Hednesford Town: Weaver, Vidal, O’Hanlon, Harvey, Lupano, Bailey, Racchi (Curley 87), King, K Wells (Wright 79), Sweeney, B Wells
Subs not used: Reid, Hallahan Veiga
Stalybridge Celtic: Wharton, Solomon-Davies, Roberts (Cooke 73), Lees, Smalley, Tongue (Kengni 88), Bakkor, Rule (Cockerline 60), Wilkinson, Wolfenden, Howard
Subs not used: McLaughlin, Winterbottom