SALFORD CITY 1 BOSTON UNITED 2: Salford are going up, but will the Pilgrims be joining them?
It was the result that suited everyone as the Pilgrims beat the Ammies 2-1, Harrogate’s defeat at Bradford Park Avenue ensuring the hosts were crowned champions.
However, as the hosts were collecting the National League North trophy, Craig Elliott’s side couldn’t help but look at the table with something of a grin, Boston four points off the play-offs with two games to play and suddenly in with an outside chance of a top-seven slot.
After beating challengers Harrogate in midweek, Boston had promised not to roll over and gift their hosts the title.
And they remained true to their word, beating the top two in the space of four days.
United controlled the first half and took a 2-0 lead into the break.
Reece Thompson opened the scoring in the 27th minute, freed down the left by Andi Thanoj’s clever pass and setting up Kabongo Tshimanga, only to run in and sweep beyond Tim Erlandsson after his strike partner’s effort landed kindly for him.
The man who admitted that he revelled in his role as a wind-up merchant this week offered a finger to the lips as he celebrated in front of the shocked home support.
And it was two seven minutes later, Jordan Keane meeting Ashley Hemmings’ inswinging corner and wheeling away in celebration as his header made its way through the packed penalty area and nestling in the net.
Boston were playing without the pressure the hosts had on their shoulders and enjoyed a free-flowing opening 45 minutes, even if some neat interplay lacked a final, telling pass.
Keane flicked a volleyed effort wide and Thanoj’s free kick dipped neatly over the wall but into the grateful arms of Erlandsson.
The closest the Ammies came to getting on the scoresheet was Liam Hogan heading over, while George Willis took the cautious approach and palmed Tom Walker’s free kick away from his goal.
The second half had a different look as the Amnmies, with the crowd coming to life, had thing more their own way.
Lois Maynard flicked home a header over Willis to reduce the arrears with 66 minutes on the clock.
Salford had chances to pull level but the unmarked Walker smashed wide and Willis spread himself to deny United old boy Carl Piergianni.
And when Mike Phenix swept the ball into the United net, his celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.
City were reduced to 10 men with five minutes remaining as Gus Mafuta tripped Thompson as he loomed down on goal, his second booking of the afternoon.
United had a let off into stoppage time as Walker’s free kick 10 yards into his own half evaded Willis but clattered against the post, and seconds later an almighty scramble saw the Boston keeper body block Horgan’s close-range effort.
As the six minutes of time addd on played out the Ammies fans chanted ‘we are going up’.
But who will be joining them? Boston? Don’t rule it out.
SALFORD: Erlandsson, Nottingham, Touray, Maynard, Piergianni, Hogan, Walker, Mafuta, Dieseruvwe (Allen 58), Redshaw (Phenix 66), Haughton (Askew 58); Subs: Burton, Dudley.
UNITED: Willis, Clifton (Middleton 84), Brogan, Thanoj, Keane, Qualter, Wafula, Abbott, Thompson (Igiehon 90), Tshimanga (Smith 76), Hemmings; McGuire, Igiehon, Stewart.
Ref: Scott Simpson.