TEN-MAN Yate Town ended Shortwood United’s ten-game unbeaten run to move into the play-off places for the first time since the start of September.
Lewis Haldane continued his red-hot form by scoring a goal in each half to give Yate a comfortable win, which appeared unlikely when Connor Clifford was sent off after just 22 minutes.
Although Shortwood enjoyed a lot of possession, Yate soaked up the pressure and were always a threat on the break with Haldane on his own up front just as good as having two strikers as he held the ball up, ran past defenders and was deadly in front of goal, making it eight goals in his last three games.
Yate have now won three games in a row and are the only team to take points off Shortwood in their last ten games, having drawn 0-0 at Meadowbank less than three weeks earlier.
Another great effort by the Yate ground staff meant that this was one of only three games in the division to go ahead after a pitch inspection in the morning, and both teams knew a victory would catapult them into the top five.
With the match getting underway in heavy rain and swirling winds, both sides took a while to settle.
Duncan Culley registered the first attempt at goal on 12 minutes when he noticed goalkeeper Martin Horsell off his line and the ball bounced up nicely for him to attempt the lob with a volley, which went wide.
Culley looked dangerous and fired narrowly over after being fed by Nick Price just two minutes after Ross Staley sliced wide from a similar position at the other end.
The game then appeared to swing Shortwood’s way when Clifford lost control of the ball after being put in trouble by Bradley Abraham’s pass and he caught Jake Parrott a fraction late as he tried to retrieve it. There was certainly no malice from Clifford and such a challenge would only have warranted a booking in less strict days gone by, but he went in slightly over the top with his studs first, leaving Parrott in a heap on the floor, and referee Mark Greenwood applied the letter of the modern law by sending him off.
However, it was the ten men who took the lead seven minutes later when Jake Cox, who replaced Clifford at left back, dispossessed Sam Avery by the touchline before skipping past James Coates to reach the byline and sending in a low cross into the six yard box which was coolly converted by Haldane.
Shortwood thought they levelled two minutes later when Culley tapped in Ross Langworthy’s cross but the linesman’s flag was up for offside.
Martin Horsell made a brilliant reaction save to keep the ball out 11 minutes into the second half when Mitch Tippins sliced the ball towards his own goal from John Cant’s free kick.
Tom King also made a fine stop when Haldane looked certain to score after getting the better of Coates and checking the ball onto his right foot in the box, only to see his effort palmed around the post.
Yate did not have to wait much longer for the crucial second goal, though, and it came from a counter-attack that started 25 yards from their own goal when Tippins made a good tackle on Cant. The right back played the ball to Haldane and surged upfield to receive it back before playing a lovely diagonal through ball to Sam Kamara. The substitute looked favourite to score himself as King rushed off his line, but his weak strike landed at the feet of Haldane, who slotted past Coates on the line to make it 2-0 with 21 minutes remaining.
Haldane came off before the end, bringing his hopes of scoring a third hat-trick in three games to an end, but his replacement Jordan Rogers had a great chance in injury time only to lash wide.
With Paulton Rovers suffering a shock home defeat against bottom side Fleet Town, Yate have moved up two places to fourth.
Yate are away to Bishop’s Cleeve on Tuesday, while Shortwood host Cirencester Town.
Yate Town: Horsell, Cox, Tippins, Chandler, Fletcher, Abraham, Clifford, Bryant (c), Ricketts (Harmer, 89), Haldane (Rogers, 84), Staley (Kamara, 68). Subs not used: Jackson, Meaker.
Shortwood United: King, Avery (Bennett, 74), Cant, Thomas, Coates, Richards, Price, Parrott (c), Langworthy(Slack, 62), Halpin, Culley. Subs not used: Herbert, Hancock, Brown.
Ref: Mark Greenwood.
Star men: Lewis Haldane (Yate Town), Duncan Culley (Shortwood).