Glossop North End took a huge stride towards to the NWCFL title, winning at relegation-threatened Barnoldswick.
This result, combined with Runcorn Linnets’ loss at home to Ashton Athletic, leaves GNE three points clear at the top with three games in hand.
However, a baffling refereeing decision left a sour taste lingering from the game afterwards.
A strong first-half wind ruined the game as a spectacle but not before the Hillmen had taken a 10th-minute lead.
Jason Carey turned his man right in the corner of the box and was tripped.
Dave Young resumed penalty duty and despatched the kick into the net for his 15th of the season.
After that it was a very scrappy game, with possession changing hands regularly as the wind took hold.
What few chances that did come came for GNE, with Lee Blackshaw forcing a save at the near post, Kelvin Lugsden heading over and then Kieran Lugsden seeing a goal chalked off due to an offside flag.
The second half started in a similar vein until a 62nd-minute incident that left spectators scratching their heads.
As Greg Hall kicked from the back something happened in the middle of the park that led to the referee showing Carey a red card.
Carey was as baffled as the crowd as to what he had been sent off for.
After the game both players involved said it was a simple coming-together of feet as they both chased the same kick but the referee was adamant that he had seen Carey softly flick his leg at the Town man.
Whether this would have constituted a red card offence in any case must also enter the debate.
There is little doubt that the club will work as hard as they can to overturn the dismissal.
The sending-off lifted Barlick for a spell, and Hall was forced to make a terrific save from mark Threlfall when the big striker rose highest from a free kick.
Hall had to stretch to the top corner of his goal to flick the ball behind.
However, on 73 minutes the hosts’ pressure was ended when Michael Bowler drilled in a corner that found Mark Reed completely unmarked eight yards out.
Reed was so free he had time to work out where to place the ball into the net, which indeed he did.
That sealed the game, and GNE comfortably saw it out.
The only further incident was an act of petulance by Barnoldswick’s Tom Henderson that saw him shown a second yellow card and dismissed.
It was the sixth caution of a game without a bad tackle, plus the mystery red card.
It is fair to say that the marks for the man in the middle won’t be terribly high from either side.
Nevertheless, this was a significant day in the life of the Hillmen.
The season’s main goal is now seven points away with a trip to Runcorn Town on Monday then Silsden on Wednesday.
It’s possible that next Saturday’s home game with Nelson could end in a celebration for the Hillmen in what has been a truly remarkable campaign.