GOALS from Mark Jones and Marc Newsham granted Boston United a thrilling 2-1 victory at FC Halifax Town.
The win made it five wins from six for the Pilgrims, who stuck to the game plan to smother one of the Blue Square Bet North’s promotion favourites.
Manager Jason Lee bravely opted to start with four strikers – Jones, Newsham, Spencer Weir-Daley and Ben Fairclough on the pitch.
While Fairclough and Newsham were sent out on the flanks, they had dual jobs: helping Ian Ross and Ben Milnes smother the Shaymen’s midfield and also bursting forward to play their part in counter-attacking football.
And it was a plan that worked to near-perfection…. Although the visitors had to ride their luck and pull off some cracking stops along the way.
Halifax had the better of the early opening exchanges, without creating any clear-cut chances.
However, it was United who took a ninth-minute lead.
Weir-Daley, back in the side following an ankle in injury, made an instant impact, slotting Ben Fairclough in with a clever reverse pass.
As the winger sprinted through, his stinging drive was parried by Matt Glennon.
But the predatory poacher Mark Jones was there to guide the ball into the unguarded net with his instep.
Halifax should have levelled minutes later, but Jon Worthington was guilty of a glaring miss.
Inside the six-yard box, the ball fell kindly at his feet.
But as he attempted to scoop the ball round Dan Haystead, he leant back and bent his shot across goal but off target.
Chris Worsley then had two decent shooting efforts for Town.
He dragged his first off target before seeing his second charged down by Ian Ross.
Gareth Seddon was introduced at the interval by the hosts, and he almost made an instant impact – but Haystead did well to hold on to his overhead kick.
Boston then created a decent chance, but Mark Jones’ hopes of doubling his tally were thwarted as Glennon tipped his 20-yarder over.
And seconds later, the Halifax number one did well to divert a Jones drive away.
But there was more to come, from the resultant corner, Glennon pulled off a tremendous reaction save, somehow denying Tom Ward’s rasping drive.
With Glennon in top form, it took a goal of the highest order to double Boston’s advantage.
Newsham had had a workmanlike afternoon until he latched on to Ian Ross’ through ball, suckering Glennon of his line before leaving him red faced with a cheeky lob.
However, Halifax turned the screw and after a succession of corners they levelled.
Haystead did well to turn Paul Marshall’s strike wide.
But after the deadball caused confusion in the United box, Seddon tapped home from close range.
Halifax were growing in confidence, and Johnson’s header looked to be going in until it struck Haystead, bounced off the top of the crossbar and behind the goal.
And at the death a perfectly-timed challenge from Gary Silk diverted a dangerous run from Halifax full back Jason St Juste.
So important was the challenge that captain Gareth Jelleyman and fellow defender Tom Ward smothered him as if he was a keeper saving a penalty.
How vital was that challenge?
Well, as the ball trickled away, so did the hosts’ hopes of a leveller.
TOWN: Glennon, Toulson, Lowe, Hogan, St Juste, Worsley (McManua 66), Marshall, Worthington, Hackney (Seddon HT), Johnson, Gregory; Subs (not used): Qualter, Bolland, Senior.
UNITED: Haystead, Silk, Jelleyman, Milnes, Ward, Stainfield, Fairclough (Smith 71), Ross, Jones, Newsham, Weir-Daley; Subs (not used) Drury, Marshall, Reed, Craven.
Ref: Matthew Bristow.