BOSTON UNITED 3 SOUTHPORT 2: Pilgrims out of the drop zone following last-gasp winner

Ashley Hemmings.
Ashley Hemmings.

Brad McGowan and Kabongo Tshimanga struck in the final 10 minutes to secure a 3-2 win over Southport - and lift Boston United out of the National League North relegation zone.

The Pilgrims recorded back-to-back league wins for the first time since September last year, the Sandgrounders are now 16 matches without a win - but the stat which counts is that the hosts have leapfrogged their rivals to move out of the bottom three four the first time since October 21.

Ashley Hemmings gave United an early lead only for Jason Gilchrist to take his personal tally to five in two games with a brace.

But a fantastic late fightback saw super sub Tshimanga level in the 80th minute with his 11th of the season, his seventh off the bench.

And with mere seconds remaining McGowan completed the turnaround, which could be vital for United’s survival hopes.

Hemmings gave United a 22nd-minute lead from the penalty spot after Reece Thompson’s refusal to give up on a loose ball saw him beat Jon Worsnop, only to be tripped in the box.

The spot kick had enough power to find the net, despite Worsnop getting a hand to the ball.

But within 13 minutes two Gilchrist goals had turned the contest on its head.

The warning signs had been there as Jordan Hallam’s strike rattled the United woodwork, but Gilchrist levelled on the half-hour mark with a low finish after Jack Sampson’s pass dissected the static home defence.

And it was 2-1 when Gilchrist sent George Willis the wrong way from them spot after the United keeper had upended Hallam.

“One-one in the dodgy pens,” sang the Southport fans, but both spot kicks appeared to be the right decision from referee Scott Simpson.

In a first half of three goals there were few other chances, although Hemmings curled a free kick wide of Worsnop’s near post and Willis had two stand firm to beat away Gilchrist’s drive.

With Jamie McGuire unavailable after becoming a father for the second time, Pilgrims manager Craig Elliott gave Brad Abbott his first appearance in midfield.

And he dished out two more debuts with a double change at the break, Andi Thanoj and Stephen Brogan replacing Adam Curry and Brad Beatson.

Within seconds of the re-start Hallam sent a golden opportunity off target before Thompson did likewise at the other end.

When the Boston striker did force a header on target he was denied by Worsnop’s superb full-stretch save.

Appeals for a third penalty were turned down when Gregg Smith’s header struck an opponent’s arm before Worsnop made another vital intervention, denying James Clifton from close range.

It was all square as Tshimanga met Brogan’s pass and hammered home a low strike from almost on the byline.

And the comeback was complete as McGowan made the most of Worsnop’s spill to hook home in the 88th minute.

UNITED: Willis, Clifton, Curry, Keane, Beatson, McGowan, Rollins, Abbott, Smith (Tshimanga 75), Thompson, Hemmings; Subs (not used): Walker, Stabana,

SOUTHPORT: Worsnop, Jackson, Richards, Sheron, Howson, Priestley, Hallam (Dawson 85), Lynch, Gilchrist (Lowe 78), Sampson, Morgan (Schumacher 86); Subs (not used): Hine, Schumacher, Smith.

Ref: Scott Simpson.

Att: 784 (34).