BROWNE ON THE BALL: You can never rule out Boston United’s Dayle Southwell having the last laugh

Dayle Southwelllooks dejected following his late Stalybridge miss.

Dayle Southwelllooks dejected following his late Stalybridge miss.

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Kyle Dixon took the ball in his stride, powered down the right wing and - after beating his man and edging closer to the byline - directed an inviting cross into the Stalybridge Celtic penalty area.

First to the ball was Dayle Southwell and, as the ball met his forehead, the next step was the wait for the net to bulge.

Dayle Southwell.

Dayle Southwell.

At least that was we thought in the Bower Fold press box.

Dennis Greene and Martyn Bunce in the away dug-out thought the same, as did Boston United’s travelling delegates in the seats behind, as both groups rose to their feet to grasp at the air before placing those same hands on the backs of their heads - almost in shock.

You see, we have grown accustomed to Southwell always having the last laugh.

Even on those days when everything he smashes at goal is somehow tipped, hacked or cleared away, he seemingly always finds the net at some stage.

Dayle Southwell.

Dayle Southwell.

Think back to those recent victories against Worcester City, Gainsborough Trinity and Hednesford Town.

All three were matches where the striker hustled, bustled, ran, tackled and shot, but it just didn’t look like it was going to be his day.

But on each occasion it was the forward who had the final say, scoring important goals which have helped shape United’s season into one of hope and belief.

Indeed, his 27 goals have come in 19 different matches, that’s not far off half of the 41 matches he has started, and a further three has joined later on.

But the even more stunning statistic is that, of those 19 games in which he has scored, only one of them, the 3-2 defeat at Stockport, saw United end up on the losing side.

On Saturday he could, and probably should, have taken his season’s tally to 28, if not 30 (which would have eclipsed Ricky Miller’s superb total of 29 last campaign).

On this occasion it wasn’t to be Southwell’s day.

But don’t for a second let that fool you into thinking that’ll be the last we hear from the former Grimsby Town man this season.

Many of Southwell’s goals can be attributed to his clever finishing, but it is his all-energy running and combative approach which frustrates and unsettles opposing defenders, often allowing him a sight of goal in the first place.

That and the fact he never gives up until the final whistle.

When the going gets tough, poor players go missing.

But Southwell, like many of his United teammates, revel in those big games and see it as as chance to up their games and get stuck in even more.

The best example of that so far was the victory at Hednesford.

When the hosts drew level, many would have allowed their heads to drop and the points to go the same way.

But on that day the Pilgrims refused to give up and it was Southwell again who struck the winning goal.

Saturday’s trip to Solihull will be similar to that day at Keys Park, against a physically tough side who have a knack of frustrating.

But with Boston United you have a team full of strong characters ready for a fight.

And when Dayle Southwell’s on the pitch, you’ve always got a chance of scoring another goal.

The season is still far from over, and don’t bet against Southwell still having the last laugh.