Sutton Coldfield Town 0 Boston United 1
(Luke Shiels 69)
Boston United were looking for an FA Cup hero. Step forward Luke Shiels.
In a captain fantastic performance, the Pilgrims defender headed home the matchwinning goal against a resolute Sutton Coldfield Town, who ended the match with 10 men.
But equally as impressive - and important - was his first-half block, denying the hosts what appeared to be a nailed-on goal.
Those two vital moments ensured Boston are in the hat for Monday’s fourth-qualifying round draw, while the bank balance is £11,250 better off.
But there was late heart-in-the-mouth drama as United saw a penalty saved and the Royals almost snatched a leveller.
And seven minutes into time added on Dersean Martin received his marching orders for throwing a punch at Ben Middleton as a huge brawl broke out.
Last weekend’s Southport victory was a thing of beauty but this was more beast, United having to do the ugly stuff well to avoid slipping on what was very much a potential banana skin.
Boston’s Jay Rollins, who suffered bruising to his ankle after being stretchered off in last week’s win over Southport, dropped to the bench, replaced by Jordan Adebayo-Smith.
As the hosts - unbeaten in six - took the game to the Pilgrims Peter Crook was called upon to make a brave save at the feet of Jordan Francis.
But things didn’t go as smoothly for United’s number one when Isai Marsiela charged down his clearance on the left flank. As the ball spun back into the box Ryan Shaw looked to have the simplest of tap-ins, only for Pilgrims skipper Shiels to save his teammate’s blushes as he charged down the effort and cleared at the second attempt.
After weathering that early storm Boston began to find their footing on the artificial surface, where bounces were often erratic and second balls became a gamble.
While they controlled the majority of the play, the Royals stoically hacked and cleared waves of attacks into their box.
In-form United striker Jordan Thewlis broke clear at the other end, but his effort slid wide of the post. And when Brd Abbott turned in the box to create a shooting opportunity his ferocious drive flew over the bar.
Simon Ainge saw a header cleared off the line while further efforts from Tom Platt and Thewlis failed to hit the target as the opponents couldn’t be separated at the break.
Town keeper Lewis Gwilliam pulled off a fulls-tretch fingertip save to divert Dominic Knowles’ goalbound effort as Boston conjured up the first shooting chance of the second half.
Then, in the 69th minute, came the game’s defining moment as Shiels’ late burst into the box saw him meet Walker’s corner and head unmarked into the net.
Knowles had the chance to finish things off at the death but somehow forced Brad Abbot’s cross wide with an open goal to aim at while Jonathan Wafula - making his first appearance of the season after overcoming a knee injury - saw a penalty claim turned away.
And seconds later, from the penalty spot after Shaun Tuton was upended by James Beresford, Knowles was denied by Gwilliam’s low save.
The keeper pumping the ball upfield saw the hosts almost level as Marsiela forced Crook into a save.
As a Coldfield attack late in stoppage time was abruptly ended by Tuton a brawl broke out, Martin red carded for throwing a punch at Tom Platt.
Those opening 10 minutes aside, the Coldfield attack failed to give United any real scares. But as United walked down the tunnel, they knew they’d been forced to give everything to win the match.
SUTTON: Gwilliam, Dwyer, Christophorou (Poutney 83), Halsall, Mutton, Beresford, Shaw (Ahenkorah 67), Martin, Marselia, Leek, Francis (Okoro 54); Subs (not used): Gibson, Harrison.
UNITED: Crook, Middleton, Whittle, Platt, Ainge (Gibbens 60), Shiels, Adebayo-Smith (Tuton 87), Abbott, Knowles, Thewlis (Wafula 77), Walker; Subs (not used): Thanoj, Jackson Byrne, Rollins.
REF: Jacob Miles.