Three is still very much the magic number. Dayle Southwell’s second-half strike saw Boston United make it a hat-trick of consecutive wins in the National League North, while visitors Gloucester City were condemned to their third straight defeat on the road.
Southwell took his personal tally to five goals in as many matches with a stinging drive from just outside the visitors’ penalty area, finally beating Jas Singh, who had once again frustrated the Pilgrims with a series of impressive blocks.
Victory, however, came at a price as Zak Mills lasted just 54 minutes of his first league contest of the season.
The return of his hamstring woes could mean that, coupled with Carl Piergianni’s impending suspension, United head to Lincolnshire rivals Gainsborough Trinity without their first choice central defensive pairing on Saturday.
Prior to kick off Dennis Greene was forced to change the starting XI which claimed victories at the expense of Curzon Ashton and Brackley Town, a dead leg demoting keeper Jason Alexander to the bench as Henrich Ravas returned between the sticks.
Mills - withdrawn from the squad minutes before the season’s curtain-raiser at Stockport County - was given the nod alongside Piergianni in the heart of defence, allowing Scott Garner to move forward into midfield at the expense of Grant Roberts.
Kaine Felix remained out of contention with a sprained ankle.
Gloucester began the day with four points on the board after a victory over league newcomers FC United of Manchester and the midweek draw with Alfreton.
But away from Whaddon Road they left both Corby Town and Stalybridge Celtic pointless.
And their cause wasn’t helped any further as Obi Anoruo, who had scored two of the Tigers’ three goals prior to kick off, was ruled out through injury.
How Gloucester could have done with someone who could find the net today as chances were wasted.
After an opening 25 minutes where both sides failed to conjure up a serious goal threat between them, the first chance of the afternoon fell at the feet of Jay Rollins.
But as the unmarked winger was picked out by Dayle Southwell he was denied by the legs of Singh, who had a habit of annoying Boston with his former club Solihull Moors.
From the resultant corner Southwell met a low Kyle Dixon corner at the near post but flashed his strike across the face of goal.
At the other end, Harry White failed to trouble Ravas with a speculative 20-yard strike, but from the same distance Billy Jones went a lot closer as his free kick beat the wall and curled inches wide of the mark.
As the opening 45 drew to a close Dixon tried his luck from distance but Singh got down to smother the ball, which didn’t have enough pace behind it to test the Tigers keeper.
Nine minutes into the second half the Pilgrims suffered an injury blow as Mills pulled up holding his hamstring and had to be replaced by Jay Dowie.
The hosts again went close as Rollins was slipped through by Jamie McGhee, but as he charged down on goal Singh again frustrated the hosts.
When Rollins finally beat Singh he could only watch as his effort rebounded back off the post and into the stopper’s inviting arms.
In between those efforts a rare Gloucester foray saw Ravas hold onto Marc Richards’ headed effort.
It was back to business as the Tigers continued to frustrate Boston, Singh’s outstretched leg diverting Mark Jones’ strike wide. Seconds later and Piergianni’s effort was headed off the line by Mike Green.
But that breakthrough finally arrived in the 68th minute when Southwell smashed home a strike from the edge of the penalty area after displaying some quick footwork to set himself.
His thunderous effort certainly took a nick off Sam Avery on the way into the net, but the strike appeared to have enough pace behind it to beat Singh.
Gloucester had their chances to level, but Avery somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy while Ravas scooped Jones’ free kick over his bar after it had beaten everyone in a packed penalty area.
Southwell looked to double the advantage with a free kick but once again Singh was the Tigers’ saviour while, at the other end, another chance went begging as Lewis Hall headed Green’s cross wide.
UNITED: Ravas, Marrs, Mills (Dowie 54), Piergianni, Deen-Conteh, Rollins (Friend 89), Garner, Dixon, McGhee (Deacey 76), Southwell, Jones; Subs (not used): Roberts, Alexander.
GLOUCESTER: Singh, Green, Jones, Williams, Avery, Richards (Connolly 65), Liddiard, Hanks, White (Thompson 73), Symons, Parker (Hall 65); Subs (not used): Hicks, Hamilton.
Ref: Neil Hair.
Att: 990 (16).