Tommy Wright was left bursting with pride as Corby Town defied the odds to move back to the top of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division.
The Steelmen were deadlocked at 0-0 with play-off chasing Redditch United when goalkeeper Paul Walker was sent off in the second half.
Seventeen-year-old Sam Donkin came off the bench to play in goal and the 10 men went on to secured a fine 1-0 victory thanks to Spencer Weir-Daley’s goal.
With Poole Town suffering a shock 2-1 home loss to Bideford, Corby moved a point clear at the summit.
Poole still have three games in hand and both sides are back in action on Tuesday night with the Steelmen facing a trip to Slough Town.
But Wright was delighted with his players after they battled away to secure another priceless win.
“It was a challenge for the lads because they knew the scores at half-time,” the Steelmen boss said.
“They knew there was an opportunity at the top and to pull further clear in the play-off places.
“Paul got sent off but Spencer did what he does. He had one chance and scored. And from there, we got through it quite well.
“It was a big test and they stepped up to it and won a hard-fought game.
“I could not have asked for anymore than they gave me and I am very proud of them.”
As far as the sending-off was concerned, Wright had mixed feelings over the decision.
But he was full of praise for youngster Donkin as he stepped into the breach following Walker’s dismissal.
Wright added: “Their lad was potentially offside when he got in and I thought we had enough defenders around it for it to have only been a yellow card.
“Paul is something of a ‘sweeper keeper’ because he always plays pretty high up and sometimes we have got away with things when he has come out of his goal.
“He caught the lad on the this occasion, we won’t appeal it and we will take it on the chin.
“Sam came on and he did really well. There were a few corners and free-kicks put on him and he dealt with it all.
“He is 17 and I think it’s fair to say the experience of playing in the Red Insure Cup and Hillier Cup this season has been important for him.”