Brackley Town hauled themselves right back into the mix for the title at the top of the Conference North with a crucial 2-1 victory at an in-form Boston United on Saturday.
Saints produced an impressive display to end Boston’s 10-game unbeaten run and leapfrog the Pilgrims into third place as their push at the top gathers momentum. With the top two both losing, Brackley are now just two points behind leaders North Ferriby United.
Saints started the game like an express train, taking the lead through Stefan Moore’s composed finish after just six minutes before creating chances to extend the lead through Ryan Austin twice as the home team were forced onto the back-foot.
The lively Jamie McGhee went close before bagging the equaliser as the half-hour mark approached, striking a free-kick on the edge of the box low to Billy Turley’s left as Saints were left to rue early missed chances.
Brackley finished the half with a nice passage of play, showing good passing and invention despite the difficult surface, the free-running Glenn Walker at the heart of the action on both flanks beating defenders at will.
The closest to a further goal for either side came from a piece of Walker magic on the left as, on 37 minutes, he produced a delightful cross for Izak Reid to meet on the volley but his effort just flew wide with Sam Vince beaten.
It was the Pilgrims who seized the early initiative after the break, taking advantage of wind-assisted goal-kicks launched deep into Saints’ half.
The key moment came on 72 minutes when Carl Piergianni inexplicably diverted Walker’s cross-shot past Vince to give Saints the lead and to set up a terrific final period of the game.
Boston pressed to salvage a point and Saints defended doggedly while retaining a threat on the break as on 82 minutes when Diggin raced towards goal only to be thwarted at the last.
Turley saved well from Ricky Miller, the Skrill Conference North player of the month for January, Miller again threatened on 85 minutes as he wriggled free in the penalty area but fired wildly off target when well placed before United won a succession of late corners to pile on the pressure.
Six corners in added time were each successfully repelled, the closest chance to an equaliser coming when Piergianni’s far post header was wide.
This will go down as a fine away win against in-form fellow play-off contenders and puts Saints firmly back in contention at the top of the table.
Brackley: Turley, Clerima, Langdon, Odhiambo, Sharpe, Austin, Reid, Solkhon, Moore (Mills 90+4), Diggin (Mulligan 90), Walker.
Subs not used: Nisevic, Bridges, Towers.
Boston: Vince, Marshall, Steer, McGhee (Fairclough 78), Garner, Piergianni, Weir-Daley (Semple 63), Dixon (Ross 78), Miller, Newsham, Agnew.
Subs not used: Galinski, King.
Referee: Ricky Wootton