Harrogate Railway won for the first time in nine games when they beat Clipstone in dramatic fashion, on Saturday.
Steve Bromley’s injury-time header earned the men from Station View a 1-0 success and a priceless three points that should go a long way to securing their NCEL Premier Division status.
Victory for Ray Green’s side leaves them 11 points clear of the relegation zone and means that 20th-placed Parkgate - the only team in the bottom three who can overtake them - will most-likely need to win four of their remaining five fixtures to have any chance of escaping the drop zone.
The first half of the match was a fairly even affair and was largely played out in the middle third of the pitch.
The one real incident of note during the opening 45 minutes arrived early on when Clipstone’s Gareth Curtis used his pace to work himself a shooting opportunity on the left-hand side of the penalty area.
Railway goalkeeper James Webster couldn’t hold Curtis’ effort and Luke Walker hit the underside of the crossbar from the rebound before Webster recovered in time to grab the ball before it crossed the line.
The home side began to play with more confidence as the half wore on, but struggled to make the ball stick in the final third and were unable to create anything in the way of clear-cut scoring opportunities.
The second period saw Rail come out of the blocks with real purpose and Roy Fogarty lashed a 25-yard strike just wide of the target.
Right-winger Adam Carter then came even closer to opening the scoring, nodding against a post after Fogarty climbed highest to flick on a free-kick into the Clipstone box.
After Railway’s fast start to the new half, the visitors gradually began to come back into the contest and they could have gone in front when they switched the ball from right to left to find Curtis, who was left completely unmarked at the back post, but Webster got down to save with his legs.
As the game began to get a little stretched and open up, Railway brought on Chris Ovington for Carter down the right, but at the other end Clipstone’s Rob Paling was afforded a clear sight of goal inside the box, only to sidefoot straight at Webster.
Brendon Williams then gave Green’s men a scare when his cross-cum-shot dropped onto the crossbar with Webster back-pedalling furiously.
Substitute Ovington looked lively following his introduction and fired a free-kick just too high after Fogarty had been felled on the edge of the area, before the same player had a 20-yard strike tipped around his right-hand post by visiting stopper Gary Doncaster.
With the game delicately poised heading into its final few minutes, Clipstone probably looked the more likely to go on and pinch a decisive goal as gaps began to appear in the Railway defence and midfield.
However, having survived a late flurry of corners, the hosts launched a 92nd-minute attack down the left and Lewis Riley swung an inviting cross into the six-yard box.
Timing his lung-bursting run from near halfway and into the danger area to perfection was Rail’s tireless skipper Bromley who planted a firm header past Doncaster and into the back of the net to spark scenes of jubiliation among the home contingent.
While there were strong performances across the park as the Railwaymen brought to an end their eight-game losing run with a determined and gutsy showing, there were a number of stand-out individual displays.
Given his lack of experience at this level, young right-back Jack Lazenby fared superbly, and fellow 17-year-old Albert Ibrahimi also displayed some touches of genuine quality in the centre of midfield.
Captain Bromley led by example and thoroughly deserved his goal, while the central defensive duo of Harry Higgins and Daz Munday - both recent arrivals from West Yorkshire League Premier Division outfit Ilkley Town - added some much-needed physical presence and helped shore up what has been a porous defence.
Veteran Liam Gray also deserves a mention, returning to action to make a first appearance in some time and using his vast experience to provide a calming influence in the middle of the park.