BOSTON UNITED 2 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 1: Jones and Southwell hand Pilgrims advantage in the play-off push

Mark Jones.
Mark Jones.

Football always has a way of surprising you.

Mark Jones once had handfuls of Monopoly money thrown at him by angry Boston United fans, their way of showing displeasure at his cross-county move to Gainsborough Trinity.

Back then he was dismissed as a mercenary by those supporters in amber and black who thought he had put his pocket before his ambitions.

But after being deemed surplus to requirements at the Northolme, the in-form striker is back at Boston and back in the hearts of those fans.

There were no fake notes - just cheers - as Jones headed home the opening goal of the day as the Pilgrims beat Gainsborough Trinity 2-1 at the Jakemans Stadium.

Refuse to celebrate against your former club? Not Jones, who ran gleefully to the Town End to enjoy that moment, a goal against the team who didn’t believe he had enough of them in him.

And there was no tame raised hand from Dayle Southwell either as his 82nd minute penalty, following Liam Davis’ equaliser, settled the contest in Boston’s favour.

A finger over the lips to the Trinity fans who had goaded him before his run up was the delighted forward’s response.

Possibly those two celebrations were a little triumphal, but today’s victory was a big moment for Boston.

Those three points, coupled with results elsewhere meant United returned to the Vanarama North’s top five.

Their mission statement is now simple: win your final six matches and you’ll be in the play-offs.

Trinity are no strangers to winning at the Jakemans Stadium, having left Boston with county cup victories both this season and last.

But results in the Conference North tell a different tale, one of Pilgrims dominance in recent seasons.

You would have to go back seven meetings and almost three years - to April 2012 - to find Trinity’s last league win at the expense of United, that day a 2-1 success at this very ground.

Since then Boston have recorded four victories and two draws against the Blues.

There may be more than 55 miles between the two sides in this Lincolnshire derby, as it is still referred, but judging by the Vanarama North league table and those most recent results, the distance between the two as a sense of success is even greater.

With Zak Mills still sidelined following the foot injury he picked up at Gloucester City last week, Nicky Walker returned to the United starting XI.

Trinity brought Paul Beesley and Liam Davis back into their team with Darryn Stamp - often Boston’s tormentor over the years - dropping to the bench and Dan Clayton omitted from the squad.

The contest began in a nervy and edgy manner taking 20 minutes for the first chance to arrive to arrive. And what a golden one it was.

But as Dayle Southwell loomed down on goal, Trinity’s on-loan Hull City stopper Rory Watson made himself big and saved the low strike.

Jamie Yates - who went from hero to villain after switching from Boston to Gainsborough in the summer 2011 - revels in his role as chief antagonist when these two sides meet.

The attacker didn’t have to be asked twice to try his luck from a 30-yard free kick, but as his low strike flew under the United wall it screwed wide of the mark.

As that chance disappeared so, it seemed, did the away side’s foothold in the first half.

Kaine Felix’s quick feet and direct running took him into the Blues’ penalty area but his scooped effort was comfortably gathered by Watson.

The breakthrough came in the 35th minute as more good work from Felix, this time down the right wing, teed up Jones, whose header had enough power to beat the Trinity number one at his near post.

It was third time lucky for Jones who had seen two half chances go begging previously, one blasted over the bar and a second saved.

Looking to double their advantage the Pilgrims continued to boss the remainder of the half, but Scott Garner’s looping header and Felix’s tight-angled effort couldn’t find the net and the hosts had to settle for the slimmest of advantages at half time.

Superb link-up play between Nicky Walker and Rene Steer created a shooting chance for Southwell as the contest resumed, but his side-footed effort saw Watson get down well.

A 1-0 lead always gives the opposition a chance to force their way back into the game, and Trinity should have been on level terms when Beesley found space to shoot in the United box. However, he skied his chance.

But Gainsborough were level in the 63rd minute as the hosts failed to clear a corner, Liam Davis getting the final touch on Stephen Brogan’s strike.

The contest entered a lull after thatv goal, until the 80th minute... when things got really interesting.

United substitute Jake Sheridan rattled the Trinity woodwork and Watson somehow clawed Garner’s follow-up wide.

But from the resulting corner Adam Quinn handed the advantage back to Boston with a needless pull on Carl Piergianni’s shirt.

Southwell confidently grabbed the ball and sent Watson the wrong way for his 25th of the season.

Chasing the game, Trinity pumped long balls into the United box, but Max Stryjek - who didn’t have a save to make all afternoon until a stoppage-time drive - comfortably dealt with those hopeful hits.

UNITED: Stryjek, Marrs, Steer, Roberts, Garner, Piergianni, Felix, Dixon, Southwell, Jones, Walker (Sheridan 68); Subs (not used): Newsham, Saebe, Hollingsworth, Vince.

TRINITY: Watson, Roma, Lacey, Binns, Quinn, Byrne, Russell, Davis (Hamilton 76), Beesley (Stamp 85), Forrest, Yates (Brogan 60); Subs (not used): Toner, Picton.

Ref: Anthony Tankard.

Att: 1,319 (53).