Brackley Town survived a dramatic second half comeback that included a red card for goalkeeper Billy Turley to clinch a vital three points against Boston United at St James Park on Saturday afternoon.
Saints appeared on course for a comfortable three points after taking a 3-0 half time lead, but Boston hit back with two second half goals before Turley saw red for dissent.
Jon Brady’s side survived the Boston bombardment, however, to secure a 3-2 victory after a match ruined by blustery wind and torrential rain.
Saints started on the front foot and took a fifth-minute lead in freak circumstances. The goal came from a harmless-looking Steve Towers punt forward, as he lifted the ball over the home defence and it appeared to be an easy catch for goalkeeper Ashley Timms, but the Boston stopper misjudged the bounce and the ball flew over him into the net.
A swirling wind made things hard for both teams, with the ball constantly flying out of play and clear-cut chances at a premium - although Boston enjoyed a greater share of possession and went closest when Ricky Miller sent a 30-yard shot just over.
Just as it looked the visitors were getting on top, Brackley doubled their lead when, after a rare foray into the Boston half, Mills was fouled 20 yards out and Izak Reid struck the resulting free-kick sweetly into the far corner.
Boston continued to shade the play despite the deficit, but Brackley, as so often this season, were proving hard to breakdown with the biggest threat coming from long-range as Turley tipped Ian Ross’ 30-yard effort around the post.
Boston’s defensive woes persisted, however, and another horrific mistake from Timms gifted Brackley a third as his kick went straight to Brett Solkhon, who squared to Ben Mills and the striker, who was making his debut, finished well.
It had been a bizarre half with the visitors marginally the better side but two howlers from Timms, whose game was turning into a horror show, and a superb Reid free-kick had given Saints a 3-0 half time lead.
Unsurprisingly, Timms was subbed at the start of the second half, with 17-year-old Sam Vince coming on, and Boston made the ideal start to the period when Scott Garner headed Ross’ free-kick into the top corner, giving the visitors a lifeline six minutes into the second half.
Boston continued to show positive intent and although the wind was making things difficult, the visitors put Brackley under constant pressure, forcing the hosts, who have looked so solid all season, into mistakes at the back.
First, Rene Steer’s dangerous-looking shot was deflected into Turley’s hands, before Boston pulled within one when, on 68 minutes, Saints failed to clear on the edge of their own area and the ball fell to Marc Newsham, who finished well past Turley.
Now with the initiative, Boston put Brackley under severe pressure, but Glenn Walker remained a threat on the break and he nearly sealed the points when he broke down the left, cut inside and fired towards the near post, but Vince saved well.
The visitors remained on top for the closing stages and piled the pressure on in the final five minutes with Turley having to be at his best to produce a superb reaction save after Steer’s shot took a wicked deflection.
Then, out of nowhere, Turley was shown a red card for what appeared to be dissent, leaving Eliot Sandy to go in goal for the final two minutes plus the five added on.
The pressure mounted on the home goal, and Boston came close to snatching a point on several occasions - Carl Piergianni and Newsham causing panic in the Brackley penalty area before the addition of five added minutes made for a dramatic, nail-biting finish in the lashing rain.
Again the visitors were denied by some last-ditch defending as Saints somehow survived a goalmouth scramble before Sandy spilt a cross and Austin had to clear under his own goal, which proved to be the final action of an absorbing encounter that saw Brackley take the three points.
Brackley: Turley, Story (Newton 67), Sharpe, Austin (c), Roberts, Reid, Towers, Solkhon, Walker, Sandy, Mills (Griffin 87).
Subs not used: Nisevic, Odhiambo, Diggin
Boston: Timms (Vince 45), Marrs, Steer, Marshall (Aujla 81), Garner, Piergianni, Ross (c), Hall, Miller (Sanders 65), Newsham, Weir-Daley.
Subs: Galinski, Milnes
Referee: Alan Young