Brighouse Town Ladies travelled to south Yorkshire to face an in-form Barnsley side at Oakwell, with this top-of-the-table clash having been eagerly anticipated as a potential title decider .
And it was the ladies from Hove Edge that got their reward.
Played on the club’s Academy 4G pitch due to the recent poor weather, it was Town who came out on top with a 2-1 win, increasing their lead at the top to 11 points but having played two games more.
The prize at the end of the season is a place in the Women’s Premier League, the elite of the winter women’s game and, with only one available spot up for grab,s Town held their nerve to secure a memorable victory and give themselves some breathing space.
Although there is still plenty of football to be played, it is firmly in Town’s hands now
The game itself wasn’t one of Town’s best performances and they started on the back foot with Barnsley asking the early questions and giving Rob Mitchell’s side a lot to think about.
Town had keeper Seana Potts to thank with a couple of superb saves early on, followed by a fast-flowing counter-attack from the home side which required some last-ditch tackles to keep the score level.
Town then sparked into life and settled into the game with a couple of chances of their own before they opened the deadlock.
Emma Dobson carried the ball out of defence before passing to Jodie Redgrave who turned and slipped in player-of-the-match Claire Needham with an inch-perfect through ball; Needham managed to create an angle to squeeze the ball into the bottom corner to give her side the lead 1-0.
Town nearly doubled their lead when Annabelle Cass hit a deflected shot into the ground, it bounced up and nearly caught the goalkeeper off guard, but she managed to tip the ball over for a corner.
Barnsley themselves looked dangerous on the break and moved the ball around well, with their pace out wide a constant threat.
The second half started with Town still not really playing to their full potential, allowing Barnsley too much time on the ball and inviting early pressure.
They did, however, fight for every ball and there never-say-die attitude gave them every chance of securing the win.
That belief was increased midway through the half when Jordane Allison picked up the ball inside the Barnsley area before cutting back to Redgrave, who unleashed a wonderful strike into the far corner to make it 2-0.
Town then dominated the next period of play with Cass again coming close on a couple of occasions, one just sailing over the bar and another from an impossible angle, catching the ball sweetly and hitting the underside of the bar.
With 10 minutes to go, a long punt up the field bounced beyond the Town defence, allowing the striker to fire into the net to make it 2-1 and ensure a nervy finish.
Town did hit Barnsley on the break a couple of times before the hosts had a last-minute free-kick which tested the back line once more before being cleared.