Scarborough Athletic fans could be forgiven if they played the theme tune of the Great Escape at full blast all the way back up the A1 and A64 after their game at Retford United on Saturday.
Two dramatic late goals from forward pairing Ryan Blott and Tony Hackworth gave Boro an unlikely away win in Nottinghamshire, to take them second in the table.
A Sam Denton header with 20 minutes to go started a comeback required after a slow start put Boro on the back foot.
But Retford’s two early goals, and the sloppiness in which Boro conceded them, were forgotten as the players and manager Rudy Funk left the pitch, all smiles and punching the air with a result they desperately needed after a run of just one win in five league games.
Funk returned to the dugout after missing the previous two matches due to a family bereavement, and brought back Andy Milne, Tom Adams and Tony Hackworth to the side which won 2-0 in the cup in midweek at Liversedge. Dave Kemp kept his place at left-back with Paddy Miller unavailable once again due to work commitments.
The early stages of the first half belonged to Retford, and they took a 2-0 lead before 15 minutes had been played.
Both goals came from corners. The first a direct header from 12 yards from Liam Slack, and the second a close range finish from Brett Lucas after Boro failed to fully clear their lines.
Boro’s only sights of goal in the first quarter of the match fell to Pete Davidson, one effort a cross-shot which went out for a throw, and the second a 20-yard shot which flew harmlessly over the bar.
James Bennett did have the ball in the net on 25 minutes, but his effort past Retford’s debutante keeper Alessandro Barcherini was ruled out for offside.
Boro picked up the pace a little as the half wore on; after they start they had, they had to.
On 36 minutes Blott shot low and on target but was foiled by Barcherini, the keeper just managing to hold on to the spilled ball before Davidson could follow up.
Bennett and Hackworth were combining well through midfield to the edge of the box, and on two occasions the pairing almost fashioned a goal, but two Hackworth efforts missed the target.
Right on half-time Adams rose highest to head Bennett’s corner goalwards, but the ball cannoned off the top of the bar.
Funk resisted a change at half-time, empowering his players to get themselves out of the mess they had created. And they did so… eventually.
After Adams and Blott had seen angled efforts saved, a Matt Plummer cross was headed goalwards by Hackworth. The ball was deflected for a corner. Bennett swung out the corner to the penalty spot, where Sam Denton was waiting to leap and direct a powerful header past Barcherini to give Boro new impetus.
Retford were now on the retreat, as Boro’s confidence grew, and although their chances were few, they kept plugging away.
Jermain Hollis and Robbie Hawkes gave the side fresher legs, and the former played a ball into Blott on 85 minutes, the Boro striker fouled 22 yards from goal. He stood up and claimed the free-kick for himself, waving away other players’ requests to take the kick.His self-confidence was justified, as he placed a perfect deadball shot into the top corner.
A point rescued? No, Boro had grander ideas.
As the game headed into injury-time, a looping pass sent Hackworth on a one-on-one battle with Lucas. He out-muscled the defender with a show of strength before slotting a shot into the corner via the hand of a despairing Barcherini.
Cue wild celebrations all round, as Hackworth dived into the group of fans behind the goal; and cue the obligatory booking for Hackworth’s joyful celebration.
Retford almost snatched a point themselves at the death, but Wilson was alert to stop Tom Dorgan’s 10-yard effort.
A first ever win for the Seadogs against last year’s NCEL champions, and one which will give Funk’s men confidence heading into a crucial winter schedule in which they face both the third and first placed sides.
Boro (4-4-2): Steve Wilson 7, Matty Plummer 6, Dave Kemp 7 (Denny Ingram 82), Andy Milne 7, Sam Denton 8, Pete Davidson 6, James Bennett 6 (Robbie Hawkes 80), Tony Hackworth (c) 7, Ryan Blott 7, Tom Adams 6, Ollie Banks 5 (Jermain Hollis 60, 6). Unused: Tom Claisse, Ray Ford.
Retford Uinted (4-4-2): Barcherini, Smith, Severn, Walkden, Lucas, Ward (Gausmann 46), O’Neill (c), Dorgan, Slack (Phillips 88), Johnson, Scott. Unused: Hutchinson, Walker, Swannack.
Goals: Boro – Denton 69, Blott 86, Hackworth 89; Retford – Slack 1, Lucas 13.