Gloucester City signed off their last game of the season with a defeat and a red card against promotion chasing Stalybridge Celtic.
Jim Harvey’s men kept their play odd hopes alive with the 2-1 victory with goals from Jack Rea and Dennis Sherriff.
But the depleted Tigers side made Celtic work hard for their win, with Darren Mullings drawing a goal back.
With half a dozen players injured or suspended Dave Mehew was forced to shuffle his pack, making Tom Hamblin captain and slotting Jack Harris in at centre half. Scott Wilson was handed a start, along with Sam Rawlings and Adam Mann, while new keeper Chris Humphries made his home debut.
Scott Wilson tested Jan Budtz with a shot within the first minute, nipping into the box from the off. But a quick Stalybridge break saw Jack Rea beat Humphries with a long range effort on three minutes, setting the tone for a frantic first half where both sides showed their passing skills.
On eight minutes Darren Edwards beat the offside trap but couldn’t get past Budtz. With most of the action taking place in midfield neither team dominated, Darren Mullings, working hard alongside Dave Bird to contain Jim Harvey’s lively side.
Celtic were dangerous going forward and as Greg Wilkinson’s shot flew over the bar on 22 minutes, City looked exposed at the back.
Stand in skipper Tom Hamblin came close at the other end, with a powerful shot picked out of the debris of a free kick and a header from a short corner both saved by Budtz on the half hour mark and another effort blocked before half time.
City were quick off the mark after the break, Darren Mullings heading the ball into the post before Budtz bundled it over the line and into the goal to draw the scores level.
Humphries, playing three leagues higher than he is used to, looked comfortable in the City goal, commanding his area well.
But fumbled on 68 minutes leaving an open goal for sub Dennis Sherriff but the Celtic forward conspired to miss from a yard out.
Minutes later Sherriff made up for the blunder by easily beating Humphries to put Celtic ahead once more.
Matt Lock was sent off for an ugly lunge on Rea with 10 minutes to play. City pushed on, winning a pair of corners and fighting for possession but Celtic ground out the win which could take them to the play offs.
Gloucester City: C Humphries, S Rawlings (G Lloyd 79), J Harris, A Mann, T Hamblin, T Lewis, M Lock, D Mullings, D Edwards, S Wilson (T Webb 71) D Bird (M Liddiard) Subs: N Mustoe, M Green
Stalybridge Celtic: J Budtz, M Lees, A McWilliams, K Platt, C Lynch, J Rea, R Meynell, G Wilkinson (A Gnahou 61) , C Hobson, D Bembo-Leta (D Sherriff)S Brogan. Subs: M Austin,L Ellams, O Banks
Ref: S Plane
Star man: Darren Mullings