Ryan Robbins’ left-footed drive saw Boston United complete a bizarre afternoon of football with three points against 10-man Alfreton Town.
With three central defenders out of contention and the Reds on the front foot, an away victory appeared inevitable as the physically imposing hosts put pressure on Dennis Greene’s ‘little dynamos’.
But against the run of play Cameron Johnson’s long ball freed the striker who powered home the winning goal.
Two minutes later and the hosts saw Cliff Moyo red carded, and victory suddenly looked a possibility.
But success - aided by some superb saves from Henrich Ravas whiel his opposite number didn’t make a single stop all game - came at a cost with debutant defender Richard Jones carried off on a stretcher.
Grant Roberts had given Boston a first-half lead only for Sam Jones to cancel out that advantage.
With Carl Piergianni suspended and Zak Mills ruled out with a hamstring injury the Pilgrims were forced to change their two central defenders - Scott Garner dropping back to line up alongside debutant Richard Jones, who made the switch from Stamford yesterday.
The new-look pairing were in for an afternoon of dealing with high balls pumped into the penalty area as Town looked to exert a physical advantage.
And from a 15th-minute corner that tactic almost paid off.
Tom Allan was the first to react to ex-Pilgrim Stefan Galinski’s knock down and his hooked effort looked set to rustle the net, only for Henrich Ravas to scramble across his goal and palm the ball over his bar.
But in an opening half of few chances Grant Roberts handed the hosts a 31st-minute lead.
Timing his run to perfection, the midfielder ghosted into the box to calmly side-foot home Dayle Southwell’s low cross from the left flank.
Town came within a whisker of equalising when Dan Bradley’s 20-yard strike - executed with a swish of the outside of his boot - beat Ravas but smashed against the crossbar.
The visitors were level, however, a minute before the break when Liam Marrs’ attempted clearance landed at the feet of Sam Jones, who gratefully hooked the bouncing ball home.
The Reds began the second half by going in search of a second, but Andi Thanoj saw his low 20-yarder fly wide of the mark and Sam Jones’ goalbound header was superbly denied by Ravas’ low one-handed stop.
Richard Jones’ afternoon ended in the 69th minute after suffering a knee injury.
As he left the pitch on a stretcher to be replaced by Cameron Johnson, a further defensive reshuffle saw Jordan Richards join Garner in the heart of defence.
Sensing blood, Alfreton turned the screw with Thanoj directing a free kick inches wide and another insgtinctive Ravas save denying Todd Jordan.
But just as all the odds seemed stacked against Boston, it was they who edged in front.
Ryan Robbins latched on to Johnson’s long ball and sprinted down on goal before beating Matt Duke at his near post with a left-footed thunderbolt in the 76th minute.
Two minutes later and Town were down to 10 men when Cliff Moyo needlessly picked up a second booking for hacking at Johnson.
From that moment onwards Town’s threat fizzled out and the hosts claimed the points... completing their hat-trick of wins against the teams relegated into the division from last season.
UNITED: Ravas, Marrs, R. Jones (Johnson 69), Garner, McEvoy, Dixon (Sarpong 53), Richards, Roberts, M. Jones (Walker 53), Southwell, Robbins; Subs (not used): Alexander.
ALFRETON: Duke, Moyo, Galinski (Berry 83), Allan, Wilson, Jordan, Jones (Ironside 83), Thanoj (Heaton 82), Bradley, Robertson, Leesley; Subs (not used): Draper.
Ref: Anthony Tankard.
Att: 1,126 (80).