FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 1 BOSTON UNITED 2: Southwell secures victory with his 50th Pilgrims goal

Dayle Southwell.
Dayle Southwell.

Dayle Southwell smashed home his 50th goal for Boston United as the Pilgrims left Broadhurst Park with three points and, most importantly of all, their place in the top five intact.

Amazingly, the striker reached his landmark in just hist 81st appearance with the Pilgrims, yet to complete his second season at the Jakemans Stadium.

Doubling the advantage created by Kaine Felix’s third-minute poke, Southwell ensured that Boston’s superb record against FC United of Manchester continued.

They have now won all four of their fixtures on the road against the Red Rebels, winning six of the seven meetings in total.

But the stat which really matters this evening is where Boston sit in the National League North standings, and despite Tamworth’s victory against Chorley and Nuneaton’s draw with Telford, they survived a late wave of FC attacks to maintain the final play-off spot.

Forget the recent performances, this was the Pilgrims back to their best, possibly peaking at the perfect time?

Despite a few teething problems at the back, the defence dominated the second half, keeping the hosts chasing shadows as the imposing Carl Piergianni marshalled his back line superbly.

The midfield carried that perfect balance of solidity and attack-building quick passing, while in Dayle Southwell, on 20 goals for the season, they have a striker in devastating form.

The Pilgrims drew first blood with less than three minutes on the clock, Felix finishing off a rapid move which ruthlessly turned defence into attack.

Piergianni collected the ball in his own half and, after pushing three steps forward, he found Southwell with a perfectly placed 30-yard pass.

The striker collected the ball on his chest and slipped it into space where the pace of Felix saw him overtake Luke Ashworth and prod beyond the onrushing Dave Carnell.

Southwell doubled the advantage and reached his landmark with five minutes of the first half remaining.

Felix won the ball in midfield where Grant Roberts collected, played a one-two with Burgess and released Southwell, who smashed a low angled drive beyond the keeper’s dive, the ball nestling nicely in the far corner.

In stoppage time the Red Rebels made it nervy as Sam Sheridan pulled one back, ruffling the net with a perfectly-struck volley just inside the Boston box.

Despite the squaddy Broadhurst Park surface cutting up from the off, both sides were intent of playing passing, attacking football.

The hosts had a golden chance to cancel out Boston’s early lead when a corner snuck through to Sheridan, only for Fabian Spiess to beat away his thumped drive.

The Pilgrims responded with Felix smashing a drive from distance inches wide and Conner Robinson - back in the starting XI at the expense of Malachi Lavelle-Moore - was close to connecting with Southwell’s low cross.

As the game ebbed and flowed from end to end, Scott Garner got enough of his body in the way to deflect George Thomson’s effort over following some charitable defending.

Boston didn’t learn their lesson from that as moments later a lack of communication saw Burgess head beyond teammate Spiess, the defender making amends with a vital slide as Matthew Wolfenden looked certain to capitalise and slot into an unguarded net.

Southwell should have done better when he collected Zak Mills’ long throw at the back post but, on the turn, he failed to find the target.

But that miss was immaterial moments later as he doubled the advantage from the edge of the penalty area.

After the interval United went in search of that killer third, but Robinson’s weak effort was easily collected by Carnell while Roberts and Lewis Hilliard both saw efforts flash just wide of the mark.

Even midway through the half when the Pilgrims’ passing got a little sloppy, it was still they and not FC who carved out the chances.

When Southwell connected with Hilliard’s free kick his header took a deflection and skimmed the top of the crossbar.

In fact, it took the hosts until the 33rd minute to register their first effort on goal in the second half, substitute Tom Greaves seeing his header well held by Spiess.

And seconds later they’d created nother with the Boston keeper was scrambling across his goal, thankful to see Chris Chantler’s curling left footer fall the far side of his post.

Boston could have wrapped it up when Felix’s persistence saw him shrug off Dale Tonge with seven minutes to go, but almost on the byline he smashed his effort well over.

But that customary nervy finish was ensured when Sheridan reduced the arrears.

Deep into stoppage time the Rebels tested Boston with two corner kicks, but the head of Piergainni and hands of Spiess made sure of victory.

FCUM: Carnell, Tonge, Ashworth, Eckersley, Chantler, Sheridan, Kay, Thomson (Daniels 64), Winter (Wolfenden 8), Wright, Johnson (Greaves 73); Subs: Thurston, Brown.

BUFC: Spiess, Mills, Brown, Piergianni, Burgess, Felix, Garner, Roberts, Hilliard, Southwell, Robinson (Johnson 71); Subs: Robbins, Lavelle-Moore, Limb, Payne.

Ref: Tom Bramall.

Att: 3,544.