With Boston United, you have to learn to expect the unexpected.
And that was yet again the case last night as heroics from Spencer Weir-Daley and Dan Haystead earned the Pilgrims their first-ever win at Bower Fold.
Jason Lee had called on Weir-Daley and Ben Fairclough to put in a match-winning performance before they begin their three-match suspensions.
And they – along with the rest of the side – responded in style.
Weir-Daley struck a 57th-minute winner for the Pilgrims.
But that was merely the tip of the iceberg as United put in a performance of sheer doggedness to fully deserve the three points.
Boston lost Nathan Stainfield early on, suffering a nasty head injury.
While Haystead earned his clean sheet, saving Adam Pepper’s 74th minute penalty.
With blood pouring from his head, Stainfield was unable to continue.
Gary Silk replaced him, playing at left back as Gareth Jelleyman slipped into central defence with Tom Ward.
United had the better early chances, with Alex Cairns having to deny Silk and Weir-Daley seeing an effort blocked on the goalline.
Celtic, meanwhile, threatened through Tom Buckley’s strikes at goal.
After the break, Weir-Daley put United ahead, firing past Cairns after latching on to Ian Ross’ through ball.
Back came the hosts, with Haystead denying Buckley and Ward blocking Pepper’s free kick.
Referee Simon Bennett handed Stalybridge a late lifeline, after adjudging Ben Milnes had done enough to bring down Mitchell Austin in the penalty area.
However, Haystead guessed right, to parry the spot kick.
United had further chances to put the match beyond doubt, but Weir-Daley fired wide and Marc Newsham saw a strike deflected.
Meanwhile, Haystead denied Johnny Lindsay and Austin to deserve his clean sheet.
STALYBRIDGE: Alex Cairns, Jordan Barrow (Callum Warburton 60), Mark Lees, Kristian Platt, Jonny Lindsay, Prince Hayward, Adam Pepper, Tom Buckley, Byron Walker (Dennis Sherriff 65), Vinny Mukendi (Mitchell Austin 55), Corey Gregory. Subs (not used): Jamie Mullan, Joel Bembo-Leta. UNITED: Dan Haystead, Conor Marshall, Tom Ward, Nathan Stainfield (Gary Silk 9), Gareth Jelleyman, Ben Fairclough (Korey Dyer-Stewart 84), Ben Milnes, Ian Ross (James Reed 80), Jason Stokes, Marc Newsham, Spencer Weir-Daley. Subs (not used): Charley Sanders, Ricky Drury.
Ref: Simon Bennett.