CIRCLEVILLE — Although the circumstances weren't as severe as last October, Jackson had this game circled for months.
It was its chance to get revenge against the team who ended its season last year, and it didn't waste this opportunity.
Battling for a tough 80 minutes and not budging an inch, the Ironmen defense came through and held Circleville to just five shots to help pull out a 1-0 victory over the Tigers on Saturday.
"Our defense came up strong all game," Jackson coach Lee Lord said. "We really didn't give Circleville a lot of chances except for a few towards the very end. This is our third 1-0 win this season. Those guys stayed strong, kept things clear and got it done for us."
Coming off back-to-back losses to South Webster and Alexander, Jackson knew it couldn't afford a third-straight loss.
The Ironmen came out of the game aggressive and looking to strike early. They maintained ball possession, communicated well in the middle of the field and took shots at every possible open look.
Although shots weren't going in, the attack mode they were in sensed that a goal was almost imminent.
With time running out in the first half, Jackson got another shot off and Colt McManis hustled to get the ricochet, attacked the goal and put it in the back of the net with four seconds left in the first half.
"Every time I went for a header, I kept getting knocked down," McManis said. "But I kept getting back up and I wanted it. I had the chance, took it and connected. It gave us a lot of momentum for the second half."
Feeding off the McManis goal, it was the defense's job to keep the score that way for the final 40 minutes.
Jackson kept the ball in the middle of field and made its way into Circleville territory despite not getting a shot off on a number of occasions.
"We played a pretty solid game," Lord said. "We controlled the majority of the game despite it getting tight towards the end. You could tell both teams were getting frustrated and it was changing how we could attack one another because neither of us wanted to risk losing a player down the stretch."
Sensing the end of the game approaching, the Tigers started assuring their own aggressive play offensively and creating some chances.
They had a couple chances to equalize but missed on a header by mere inches and pushed a shot attempt too far to the right, which ultimately sealed the Ironmen victory.
"This was a pretty big one for us," McManis said. "It was nice to bounce back and we couldn't afford a third straight loss, so getting this one really helps."
Jackson now enters Frontier Athletic Conference play in three of its next four games, beginning Tuesday at Hillsboro, Thursday at Washington Court House, Monday at home against Logan Elm and next Tuesday at home against Chillicothe.
"Hopefully this gets us back on track going into this upcoming week," Lord said. "We're getting into conference play and hopefully we can get two wins this week and set up a big match with Chillicothe."