Do the best things really come to those who wait? Liam Marrs may well think so.
The left back marked his 40th appearance for Boston United by sliding home an equaliser which earned the Pilgrims a vital point at home to fellow Vanarama North play-off hopefuls Stockport County.
A scuffed effort at Tamworth and a saved strike at Harrogate had been as close at Marrs had got before today’s close-range finish.
But although United’s point was valuable - it keeps them in the hunt for a top five finish and prevented the Hatters overtaking them in the standings - there was a sense of frustration in the home camp after they dominated most of the match.
Nicky Walker has played a big part in Boston United’s recent resurgence, and he was granted the day’s first sight on goal when slipped in by Dayle Southwell. However, the winger couldn’t add to his three Pilgrims goals as he dragged his effort wide of Danny Hurst’s goal.
The hosts received a let off when Jack Ryan came within a whisker of handing County the lead when he lunged at Chris Churchman’s cross, but he couldn’t make any contact when unmarked at the back post.
A week of snow and rain left the Jakemans Stadium turf heavy, boggy and damp. Any miscued clearance could spell disaster in a penalty area, and with that in mind Zak Mills’ long throw-in soon became Boston’s weapon of choice.
From one such ball Carl Piergianni, ghosting into the box late, headed wide against his former employers.
It was Ryan who handed Stockport a 27th-minute lead, a mixture of beauty and beast. Using his body strength he shielded a looping ball, despite Piergianni’s best efforts, before striking a low volley on the turn which had enough power to beat Joel Dixon from 20 yards out.
But United levelled four minutes before the interval with a classic counter attack that begun and ended on Wearside.
On-loan Sunderland keeper Dixon did well to firmly catch Churchman’s in-swinging corner before hurling the ball out to Southwell. One cross-field pass later and Massiah McDonald - making his full debut in place of Kaine Felix, who was suffering from tonsilitis - burst into the penalty area and lay a low pass across the six-yard box, where Liam Marrs was on hand to slide home.
Marrs, an ex-Black Cat youngster, celebrated his first senior goal and 40th Pilgrims appearance by running to the home support and brandishing a triumphand fist.
Southwell had two chances to add to his 18 goals after the re-start, but the striker was denied by the legs of Hurst before firing a further effort off target.
Sandwiched between those two incidents County had a shout for a penalty - after Marrs had used his body to upend Christian Dennis - turned down by referee Tom Nield, the man who took charge of the Hatters’ 3-2 victory over Boston at Edgeley Park in September.
United turned the screw further and should have edged in front when Walker’s driven corner landed at the feet of Scott Garner. But as the captain took a touch in the crowded penalty box he could only direct his strike towards Hurst.
Seconds later and Southwell broke the offside trap, but again he couldn’t find the target.
As United’s attacking became relentless, Stockport’s defending was more and more desperate. But somehow Mark Jones volleyed wide and Garner lashed another effort the wrong side of the post, both from good positions.
Marc Newsham replaced Southwell and came within a whisker of grabbing the game’s third goal as he latcheds on to Mills’ brilliant ball into the box. But as the ball squirmed through Hurst’s legs, the keeper reacted quickest to smother.
In response, Churchman almost sprang a surprise with a low strike which deflected inches wide of the United goal.
With a minute left Garner’s drilled effort looked goalbound, but a fingertrip from Hurst was enough to divert the ball onto the crossbar.
UNITED: Dixon, McNamee, Marrs, Roberts, Garner, Piergianni, McDonald (Felix 57), Mills, Southwell (Newsham 78), Jones, Walker; Subs (not used): Saebe, Hollingsworth, Vince.
COUNTY: Hurst, Jacobs, Duxbury (Todd 78), Churchman, Lees, O’Halloran, Baker, Glover, Ryan (Sharp 71), Dennis, Russell; Subs (not used): Lofthouse, Woolfe, Ormson.
Ref: Tom Nield.