Persistence paid off for Matthew Warburton as the Stockport County striker rifled home an 86th-minute winner to sink a resilient Boston United.
After previously being frustrated three times by United keeper Jon Stewart he had the last laugh late on, finishing Scott Duxbury’s cross from close range.
It had appeared that Stewart - public enemy number one at Edgeley Park due to his mixture of acrobatics and time-wasting - was going to earn his first clean sheet as Boston put in a solid, if unstartling, away performance.
However, the Hatters grabbed that late winner.
The goalless first half lacked any real tempo although both sides could claim to have created decent opportunities.
County’s Warburton bought two routine saves from Stewart in the Boston goal while Jason Oswell and James Ball both saw efforts glance the wrong side of the post.
United’s Ashley Hemmings and Reece Thompson were enjoying space to run at the Hatters back line, but the Pilgrims failed to trouble Ben Hinchcliffe with an effort on target in the opening 45.
Hemmings sent a free kick and a 25-yarder wide of the mark, while Thompson came within a whisker with his low drive.
The second half began with Rhys Turner slapping an effort well over the Pilgrims bar before Hinchcliffe made his first save of the day, charging off his line to deny Thompson with a brave body block.
Back came County, Ryan Qualter clearing off his line during a melee in the box before Stewart pushed the follow-up wide.
The United keeper had to be at full stretch to push away another Warburton effort before a Boston break saw the lively Thompson dispossess Cowan on the byline, only to be denied by Hinchcliffe’s outstretched leg at the near post.
But just as the game appeared to be ending in stalemate, Warburton pounced.
COUNTY: Hinchliffe, Cowan (Stephenson 75), Duxbury, Winter (Turnbull 64), Clarke, Stott, Thomas, Ball, Oswell, Warburton, Turner (O’Halloran 88). Subs (not used): Minihan, Ormson.
UNITED: Stewart, Atkinson, Brogan, McGuire, Keane, Qualter, Wafula (Smith 88), Abbott, Thompson, Beesley (Igiehon 80), Hemmings; Subs (not used): Tshimanga, Hare, Willis.
Ref: Garreth Rhodes.
Att: 2,244 (37).