SOUTHPORT 2 BOSTON UNITED 3: Walker’s late free kick seals Pilgrims victory

Nicky Walker.
Nicky Walker.

That’s how it feels! Nicky Walker’s last-gasp free kick sealed Boston United’s victory at Southport.

It was a taste of their own medicine for the Sandgrounders, who claimed a stoppage-time victory in Lincolnshire in November. While Boston, often on the receiving end of a late goal this campaign, finally got to celebrate one.

The two sides played out a ding-dong battle in the wind at Haig Avenue, which lacked real class at times but offered plenty of entertainment.

Bradley Bauress put the hosts in front before Jake Wright opened his Pilgrims account and Gavin Allott edged them in front.

Jordan Archer thought he’d snuck a point but Walker had the final say.

Jay Rollins and Jonathan Wafula returned to the wings for United, replacing Max Wright and Nicky Walker, while Allott overcame illness to start in attack.

Southport kicked off in search of the 7,000th league goal of the club’s history, and it was Bauress who claimed the honour 14 minutes in.

Three hopeful Port efforts had failed to trouble George Willis before the breakthrough, Dion Charles twisting and turning in the Boston box and, just as it appeared the opportunity had been lost, Bauress arrived on cue to sweep into the open net.

It wasn’t vintage defending from the Pilgrims by any means, but Ashley Jackson was adamant he was fouled by Charles in the build-up as he looked to clear, berating referee Richard Aspinall at the hosts celebrated.

The Pilgrims’s first real foray into the Port box saw Ben Davies’s long throw cause panic. Dan Hanford got enough behind a scrambled effort which involved Wafula and Allott before Ryan Astles - who had earlier lapped up huge cheers from the home fans after executing a Cruyff turn to clear danger in his own area - hooked off the line.

The Port number one then held onto Allott’s effort on the spin before Jake Wright’s volley looped closer to the roof of the Jack Carr Stand than the goal.

Bauress looked to add to his opener with a curling free kick which had Wills scurrying across his goal before drifting wide.

Wafula almost sliced a clearance into his own net seconds into the final 45, but the next meaningful attack was to prove key.

Wright’s close-range strike was somehow deflected wide. However, Nicky Wroe’s resultant corner caused panic and, with the ball looping up kindly at the back post, Wright’s goalpoacher instinct saw him react first, heading into the net from virtually on the line with 62 minutes gone.

The wind had frustrated United in the first half, but it was finally in their sails. Ryan Qualter’s drive hit the woodwork before Wright forced Hanford into another vital save.

It was Allott’s firm finish that edged the away side ahead in the 77th minute. After sneaking ahead of the Port defence his first touch took him wide, but a low angled drive proved too hot for Hanford to handle.

But six minutes later the sides were level again, Jordan Archer looping a header over the stranded Willis.

Yet there was another sting in the tail as Walker’s free kick from out on the left evaded all amnd nestled into the net. A cross? Maybe. But the club’s leading scorer didn’t care one bit.

Back came Port again, Willis having to beat away David Morgan’s rasping long-ranger, a match-clinching save.

SOUTHPORT: Hanford, Richards (Archer 56), Ogle, Platt, Astles, Parry, Lacey (Davies 65), Morgan, Charles, Sampson, Bauress (Homson-Smith 80); Subs (not used): Green, Tibbetts.

UNITED: Willis, Davies, Jackson, Thanoj, Middleton, Qualter, Rollins (Walker 66), Wroe, Allott (Harris 90), J. Wright (Abbott 90), Wafula; Subs (not used): M. Wright, Johnson.

REF: Richard Aspinall.

ATT: 1,025.

STAR MAN: Jake Wright - A thorn in the hosts’s side.