HAVING watched his 10-man 1874 Northwich side pick up a huge three points at Ashton Athletic, co-manager Wayne Goodison could not heap enough praise upon his players.

In fact, he went as far as to say their victory was up there with the best of what has been an excellent season so far.

Scott McGowan was in the thick of the action – scoring the game’s only goal before being sent off before half-time for an off-the-ball incident.

Ashton pressed but the Greens remained strong to ensure the points went home with them to Northwich.

“We’ve got an unbelievable three points there tonight,” Goodison said.

“If it’s not the best win of the season, it’s certainly up there.

“I thought we were the better side when it was 11 vs 11 anyway. We were in control of the game.

“Then too play an hour with 10 men against a free-scoring side, we really restricted them to pumping balls into our box and they never got behind us.

“We defended so well and stayed so organised.

“I can’t praise the players enough for the way they adapted and saw the game out.

“It’s testament to them and how disciplined they can be under strange circumstances.”

1874 started strongly, with McGowan and Taylor Kennerley bristling with intent going forwards while behind them, skipper Matt Woolley dictated things in midfield.

When the goal came, it was hardly a surprise.

Kennerley’s cross from the left was flicked on by Jake Parker into the path of McGowan. From the centre of the penalty area, he was never going to miss.

Kennerley nearly went from provider to scorer after a mazy run into the box, but the Ashton keeper just about got enough on his shot to keep it from going in.

Then, the whole dynamic of the game changed.

After a coming together off the ball, the referee immediately flashed the red card. After a few moments of confusion, it was McGowan who trudged off.

“The referee’s seen it as he’s seen it and that’s fine,” Goodison said.

“What we’re unsure about is what he’s deemed to have took place, neither bench saw it as that.

“In real terms, it’s a bit of a coming together.

“A usual North West Counties ref would have told them to sort themselves out and get on with it. There was nothing really in it.

“We’ll look and see if there’s anything on the video that’s different to what he says he’s seen and go from there.”

That put 1874 on the back foot and put the onus on Ashton – scorers of six goals in each of their past two games – to unleash an onslaught.

However, Tony Agayhere in the Greens goal only had two regulation saves to make as those in front of him defended resolutely and with purpose.

In the end, the hosts were reduced to panicked long balls – playing right into the visitors’ hands as they ended up comfortably seeing out the victory.

“I’ve been in that situation myself – you throw as many forwards on as you can, you haven’t really got a shape and players end up getting in the way of each other,” Goodison said.

“We knew as long as we defended properly and stayed patient, they would struggle to break us down.

“For the last 10-15 minutes when they were just knocking balls in, I thought we looked really comfortable.”