A late Matty Warburton goal was enough to give Stockport County three points at a chilly Edgeley Park, as the Hatters move into the play-offs.
Off the back of an important win over Gainsborough Trinity at the weekend, it was imperative that Jim Gannon’s side kept up the momentum with another victory against a mid-table Boston United side, with the County manager naming an unchanged XI from the weekend as a result.
The game began cautiously, with both sides probing for potential weaknesses on a bobbly Edgeley Park pitch.
Jason Oswell volleyed over after 10 minutes and Adam Thomas came close shortly after, with both teams limited to half-chances in a dull opening 45 minutes.
Boston Goalkeeper Jon Stewart set the tone for the first half, wasting time at every opportunity as it became clear the visitors were happy to sit back and play on the counter.
HT: County 0-0 Boston
As a result, the Hatters came out with more urgency as they kicked towards the Cheadle End in the second half. Oswell forcing Stewart into a first meaningful save with a headed effort.
As the half wore on, the pattern of the match began to set in, with County asking all the questions whilst the Pilgrims appeared dangerous on the counter.
The pantomime villain Stewart was diving to the floor and wasting time at every opportunity, helped affably by Referee Garreth Rhodes, who refused to book any of a Boston side intent on running the clock down.
Darren Stephenson and Paul Turnbull were introduced as County chased a victory, with the former playing a big part in the breakthrough.
A Stephenson cross was met by Oswell, whose shot was blocked in the six yard box. Fortunately, Warburton was on hand to poke home the rebound and give the home side an all important breakthrough.
The sudden change in Boston’s play was miraculous to see, Stewart’s transformation into County’s official ball boy was heartily cheered by Hatters fans, with the former Bradford PA keepers’ tactics coming back to bite him.
Thankfully, after five minutes of injury time, the referee mercifully blew his whistle to send Boston back to Lincolnshire empty-handed.
FT: County 1-0 Boston
The victory sees County move up to 7th and into the play-offs, albeit only temporarily. Saturday sees another massive match at Edgeley Park with Leamington the visitors as we aim for a third straight victory.
Scorers: Warburton (85)
Squad: Hinchliffe, Cowan (Stephenson, 75), Clarke, Stott, Duxbury, Thomas, Winter (Turnbull, 63), Ball, Warburton, Turner (O’Halloran, 87), Oswell.
Unused: Ormson, Minihan.