MELLOR 3 AFC OLDHAM 2
Mellor Firsts completed the double over AFC Oldham after overcoming 90 minutes of thuggery from the visitors.
Oldham had a man sent off and three more booked as they lost by the same score as their corresponding home game in September.
It was a bruising encounter and one irresponsible push on Rob White near the touchline after 41 minutes saw the full back hit his head on the rock hard surface and lay prone in the same spot off the pitch for more than 35 minutes.
He was still in pain after the match. Mark Oldham replaced him.
It was only AFC Oldham's fourth reverse of the season and effectively ends their title challenge. Although it is still mathematically possible, they are eight points behind leaders Cheadle Hulme Villa with four games left.
Barlow and Clarke on the charge
Mellor were disconcerted by the non appearance of keeper Kev Cooney and Cody Wharton - called from the gym - was a hurried replacement.
Oldham might have scored with the second kick of the match, sending in a long range effort that whistled a yard over but would have probably beaten Wharton had it been on target.
The visitors were fired up and dominated the early exchanges.
The tone was set early on by a two footed tackle on the blind side of the referee, which luckily did not make contact, to send the ball out of play for a throw in.
Dave Whelan challenges for a cross
Chances were few in the first period and neither keeper was seriously troubled.
On 18 minutes Bruce Clarke was sent beyond Oldham's back line but he shot wide under intense pressure.
Teenager Clarke led the line well and showed no fear against taller and stronger opponents.
Mellor kept faith with their passing game knowing that almost every connection with the ball was quickly followed by an often ferocious tackle.
Matt Peck outpaces the Oldham defence
On 49 minutes Matt Cotton, who had an excellent game, tried a chest pass but the ball flew to Oldham's danger man winger who moved it on, cut inside and sent a superb shot high beyond Wharton's flailing left hand into the net for 1-0.
Mellor struck back within a minute, Dave Whelan sending in a looping header over the visitors' keeper for 1-1.
A minute late Clarke raced clear of the Oldham back line but blasted over.
On 62 minutes Mellor were awarded a penalty after an Oldham defender wrestled a Mellor player off the ball as the visitors cleared a corner.
Dave Whelan slid the ball home, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Dave Whelan sends the keeper the wrong way from the spot
On 65 minutes Dom Randle replaced Clarke.
Oldham then had their full back sent off after a second yellow offence.
Matt Cotton sent a header wide from a good position.
But on 78 minutes 10-man Oldham equalised from an innocuous move which ended with a square pass and a tap in.
Maybe Wharton might have moved quicker from the six yard box to quell the danger.
Matt Cotton waits for an error
Oldham sensed a victory and tried to exert pressure but they left gaps at the back.
On 82 minutes Mellor had a three on one situation but man of the Match Whelan opted to shoot when he had two players in support to his left and the ball flew over.
The midfielder made amends on 85 minutes and completed his hat trick, breaking clear again and sending the ball just inside the keeper's left hand post for 3-2.
Mellor Thirds drew 3-3 against Bury Ams Reserves. Rick Axford scored with a free kick and James Hanson and Craig Fairfield also found the net,
The Fourths are still seeking their first league win with only one game to play after losing 7-2 on the plastic at Curzon Ashton against AFC Oldham Reserves. Carl Brindley and Kye Davidson scored.
Thank you to all those players who agreed to play at short notice because of changing circumstances.