Scarborough Athletic finally put a halt on their slip down the Evo-Stik North table on Saturday as they collected a snatch-and-grab 1-0 win at Trafford.
A super late strike from midfielder Steve Mallory was a fitting decider for the fate of a vital three points
The long overdue victory was Boro’s first since August, but the performance was one that oozed confidence and composure, two traits that Athletic had been lacking in recent weeks.
Some of this may be due to the loan signing of Bradford City keeper Joe Cracknell, who breathed a more relaxed attitude into a back-line and that soon filtered through the whole side.
Cracknell was joined in the squad by another young Bantam in Sam Wright, whose arrival on the field as a substitute for the injured Paul Robson brought an impetuous fight that seemed to inspire his older teammates.
Both sides made a quiet start to the game, though the travelling Boro fans did their bit to create an intense atmosphere around Trafford’s tidy base.
Home stopper Luke Pilling was the first to grab a taste of the action as he plucked a vicious Mallory drive from the air.
The action soon gathered pace, with Cracknell spreading himself well to deny Phil Dean, at the other end Ryan Blott scooped over the bar when free inside the box.
Boro seemed to have been hit by a blow when Robson tweaked his hamstring on one of his many raids forward. Wright was sent on in the middle of the park, with Joel Dixon reverting to full-back.
Play continued to swing from end to end in the closing moments of the first half. Once again Cracknell was at his best to plunge at the feet of a well-placed Chris McDonagh, before Ryan Qualter saw his drive held by the equally impressive Pilling.
There was no reduction in pace at the beginning of the second half, though good opportunities were at a premium.
Gary Bradshaw snatched at one of these chances, dragging a low shot just past the post.
Then Cracknell held onto a powerful effort from Trafford centre-back Ryan Ledson.
Trafford began to assume the upper-hand on the hour mark, but Cracknell continued to earn his corn with a line of outstanding saves.
Centre-back Qualter was unlucky not to break Boro’s duck when he volleyed inches over. He then made two fine goal-line clearances to keep his side in with a shout.
Boro gritted their teeth and dug in as the minutes ticked on and this rocked Trafford onto the back foot.
Dixon thumped a drive at goal from all of 35 yards, but it was brilliantly tipped away.
Then, from the resulting string of corners, the ball fell at the feet of Mallory out wide on the left.
He ghosted past his man before lifting a shot over a sea of bodies and into the back of the net.
This sparked mass celebrations and huge feelings of relief on the Boro bench and in an jubilant shed behind the Trafford goal.
The final moments of the game ticked away and Mr Hilton’s whistle was met by more long-awaited euphoria from everyone involved with Boro.