Ambergate FC remained at the top of the Midlands Regional Alliance Division One despite a disappointing 4-0 defeat at in-form Ripley Town.
Starting the game with a 3-5-2 formation, Ambergate were looking the better side as chances were slowly being created in the Ripley half.
However, this passage of good play was halted on 12 minutes when Richard Briggs was given a straight red card.
Ripley broke away and sent a striker clear on goal but a tangle of legs between him and Briggs meant the referee had an easy decision as he was the last man.
This did not seem to bring Ripley much into the game though as some stubborn defensive work all over the pitch from Ambergate was thwarting much of the threat and even when Ripley had a chanceStephen Waite was on hand to make a save.
The deadlock was eventually broken just after the half-hour mark. A low free kick was missed by both sets of players but found its way to the back post where an unmarked Ripley forward tapped the ball home.
Ripley tried to assert themselves on the game but Ambergate were still holding strong and could have gone in at half-time level.
Good work on the left by Richard West and Josh Squires allowed Ryan Walters to get a strike at goal but it hit the side netting from the angle.
The second half continued with Ambergate holding firm but they could do little about Ripley’s second goal after 60 minutes. As the ball was cleared from the area, an onrushing midfielder struck the ball low first time from 25 yards into the bottom corner, giving Waite no chance.
Ambergate now started to create a number of chances with West heading a corner over from inside the six yard box and Gary Conway having a delicate chip over the ‘keeper cleared off the line after a brilliant ball over the defence from Ryan Walters.
It was Ripley who got the goals to kill off the game as they struck twice in the last ten minutes.
Firstly a low strike on the angle from around 18 yards eluded Waite and went into the corner and then some poor defending down the left allowed the Ripley winger to cut the ball back to a forward to tap home from two yards out.
This was a disappointing day after it had initially started so brightly.
This weekend, the first team have a free weekend but the reserves welcome Pastures Reserves to The Thomas William Ground in Heage for a match that kicks off at 2pm kick off.