Gloucester City grabbed a 92nd minute winner to deny Brackley Town a precious point in a bottom-of-the-table clash in the Conference North.
A batting Brackley side, who had been reduced to 10 men after Tom Sharpe was red carded for a clumsy challenge on former Saints striker Charlie Griffin, defended doggedly, only to succumb at the death when a precious point appeared all but secure.
Saints spurned a golden chance to take an early lead when Ebby Nelson-Addy’s low shot was saved by Jasbir Singh, but the visitors were ahead inside 10 minutes when Tigers captain Jack Harris turned Connor Waldon’s low cross past his own goalkeeper.
In atrocious conditions of driving rain and swirling wind, young Dan Farrell, making his league debut in goal, saved well low down as City increased the pressure in the closing stages of the first half.
The game-changing moment came on 42 minutes when Sharpe felled Griffin and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red card. Defender Stuart Pierpoint came off the bench for his first appearance with striker David Moyo sacrificed as Saints led at half-time.
The game was in danger of abandonment as the incessant rain poured down onto a saturated pitch, but the two teams battled on and the Tigers were immediately on the attack from the restart before levelling through Chris Knowles.
A scrambled clearance, deflected shot over the bar and flying finger-tip save by Farrell from Joe Parker’s curling effort kept the sides level before Saints survived a goalmouth scramble after Farrell had picked up what was deemed by the referee as a back pass.
As the clock ticked into the 92nd minute, Saints’ defence was tested one more time and this time it was beaten as a shot from the right held up in the muddy goal-mouth, allowing an eager Parker to pounce and stab into the net to ignite jubilant celebrations as City claimed an invaluable victory.
The defeat means Saints continue to hover dangerously close to the drop zone in 19th ahead of the return game at St James Park on New Year’s Day.
Brackley: Farrell, Samuels, Carruthers, Eddie Odhiambo, Sharpe, Austin, Addy-Nelson, Whittall, Rowe, Waldon (Kaziboni 76), Moyo (Pierpoint 44).