BOSTON UNITED 3 AFC FYLDE 1: Pilgrims rip up the form book to topple league leaders

Carl Piergianni.
Carl Piergianni.

Carl Piergianni netted a brace as Boston United came from behind to topple Vanarama North leaders AFC Fylde.

Zak Mills also got on the scoresheet to cancel out Jamie Allen’s opener as the Coasters’ 14-match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end.

And there was even time for Joel Dixon to mark his debut with a penalty save.

There was no place in the starting line-up for St Kitts and Nevis international Zeph Thomas, the striker who signed on Thursday forced to bide his time as he began on the bench.

But on-loan Joel Dixon made his Pilgrims debut between the sticks, the Sunderland youngster replacing the suspended Sam Vince.

Dennis Greene made two further changes to the side which lost 2-1 to Solihull Moors last week, with Kyle Dixon and Kaine Felix replacing Michael Hollingsworth and Conor Marshall in a 4-3-3 formation which included a few twists.

Zak Mills joined Carl Piergianni in the heart of defence, flanked by Rene Steer and Liam Marrs.

This saw Scott Garner move forward to act as the midfield anchor, joined by Greg Tempest and Kyle Dixon, while Dayle Southwell, Mark Jones and Kaine Felix made up the front line.

Dixon was called upon to make his first save in a United shirt in the fifth minute, denying Rickie Allen’s close-range stinger with his body.

At the other end, a combination of Fylde keeper Ben Hinchcliffe and the crossbar somehow kept Felix’s 40-yard lob out.

But the Coasters took the lead in the 18th minute when Jamie Allen’s low strike flew below Dixon’s frame.

United’s first real chance to level came when Garner’s turn in the penalty area saw him prod goalwards with the outside of his boot, only for Hinchcliffe to pull off a firm near-post block.

Greg Tempest’s powerful left footer then brought another stop from the Coasters stopper as the contest began to swing in the home side’s favour.

Indeed, the Pilgrims turned the match on its head in a six-minute period as the first half came to a close, with both central defenders getting on the scoresheet.

Tempest’s 39th-minute corner was met by Piergianni and and - as the ball dropped to Mills - he prodded home from six yards out, his fourth of the campaign seeing him become the club’s second-highest scorer of the season to date.

Then on the stroke of half time Piergianni charged in to meet another Tempest corner, powering his header beyond Hinchcliffe.

And there was a carbon copy of that goal four minutes after the break as Piergianni powered home yet another Tempest corner to give Boston some breathing space, also taking his tally up to four.

Cue a period of midfield battling where neither side got a real grip on the game and chances were few and far between.

However, Thomas almost got his debut goal with 25 minutes left on the clock. After sprinting to meet Felix’s low cross at the near post his toe-poked effort beat Hinchcliffe but not the post.

Two late efforts from Fylde saw Danny Lloyd head over when unmarked from close range and Adam Sumner force a drive just off target.

Piergianni came close to completing a hat-trick of headers late on, but his stoppage-time effort was deflected wide of the mark.

There was still time for Dixon to make his mark with a low save to deny Richie Allen from the penalty spot following a handball in the box.

What drama.

UNITED: J. Dixon, Mills, Steer, K. Dixon (Thomas 63), Garner, Piergianni, Marrs, Tempest, Southwell (Marshall 63), Jones (Hollingsworth 73), Felix; Subs (not used): Galinski, Doran.

FYLDE: Hinchcliffe, Hughes, Sumner, Langley, Hannigan, B. Barnes, Tomsett (Lloyd 56), Potts (Rowe 56), J. Allen, M. Barnes, R. Allen; Subs (not used): Booth, Denson, Dion Charles.

Ref: Anthony Da Costa.

Att: 952.