YATE Town continued their recent domination against Mangotsfield United to remain in contention for a play-off place.
Ross Staley’s scrappy goal two minutes before half-time, which was typical of the game, was enough to give Yate their sixth successive South Gloucestershire derby win in all competitions and virtually end Mangotsfield’s hopes of a top-five finish.
The seventh-placed Bluebells moved to within two points of the play-offs with four games left, although Shortwood and Paulton above them both have two games in hand, while Mangotsfield are now six points adrift with just five games remaining.
Mangotsfield manager Richard Thompson has not won on three visits to Yate now since being sacked by the club in 2009 and his miserable afternoon was compounded when he was sent off from the dugout for something he said to the referee at half-time.
Both sides were understandably nervy and struggled to settle on a bumpy surface, but Mangotsfield went closest early on when a fired-up Ashley Williams drove just over the bar from 30 yards, shortly after Lewis Powell had a shot blocked by Joe Chandler.
At the other end, Lewis Haldane looked like he was about to pull the trigger after latching onto Jordan Rogers’ flick-on and bearing down on goal but opted to cross instead, allowing goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer to gather, before the same player turned and shot harmlessly wide after being found in the box by Jordan Ricketts.
The game became increasingly tetchy with both defences on top, but Mangotsfield’s back four was breached by Ricketts’ ball over the top, only for Rogers to wastefully shoot wide first time from long range when he had time to close in on goal and pick his spot.
Yate went ahead four minutes later. Staley was set off down the left wing by Billy Fletcher’s clearance and he pulled the ball back into the box for Rogers, whose shot was blocked. Jordan Ricketts also had an effort kept out by a defender in the goalmouth melee, but the ball broke to the unmarked Staley, who finished into the roof of the net.
Rob Cousins’ side could have gone into the break with a bigger advantage but Rogers could get no power on his volley from Haldane’s cross, giving Sawyer an easy save.
After a flat start to the second half, Yate were given a warning when they made the hash of clearing their lines from a free kick and the ball broke to Darren Edwards in the box, but the striker inexplicably fired wide when he should have scored.
Seven minutes later Martin Horsell’s goal kick somehow found its way through to Haldane, who kept his composure as he approached the goal before his shot was saved by Sawyer’s legs, and Neil Arndale cleared with Staley ready to pounce.
Sawyer was called into action again to tip substitute Michael Meaker’s glancing header away after a well worked short corner between Staley and Haldane.
Mangotsfield had thrown on Lewis Sommers by then, but the giant striker, so often the scourge of Yate in the past, was unable to make much difference and fluffed his only chance when he chested Josh Egan’s dangerous cross straight to Horsell with ten minutes to go as Yate held on comfortably.
Yate Town: Horsell, Clifford, Tippins (Cox, 63), Chandler, Fletcher, Abraham, Ricketts, Bryant (c), Rogers (Meaker, 72), Haldane, Staley (Kamara, 84). Subs not used: Harrison, Guest.
Mangotsfield United: Sawyer, Arndale (c), Parrinello, Kite (Fortune, 87), Sysum, Osman, Egan, Williams, Edwards (Sommers, 72), Powell, Robbins (Best 52). Subs not used: Diallo.
Ref: Mr T Wood.
Gazette star man: Billy Fletcher – Like a brick wall in the centre of defence.