ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division - Boston Town 0 Holbeach United 1
It certainly wasn’t pretty to watch – but Holbeach United knew how to get the job done again.
At the seventh attempt, Tigers manager Darren Jarvis finally celebrated his first away league win in charge.
Fittingly, it took a goal from a defender to settle Tuesday’s derby date because this was all about determination to hold onto that advantage.
Chris Ward’s superb strike on 34 minutes was enough for three points – but only just.
Exactly a year since their 2-1 away win over Boston Town, it was a similar story of Holbeach digging deep and showing plenty of character.
They had to battle on for an hour without skipper Jamie Stevens who appeared to suffer ankle ligament damage in his right ankle following a nasty fall.
Typically, though, Matt Warfield slotted into the heart of the defence without too many problems alongside Jonny Clay.
The Tigers came under second-half pressure from the Poachers who could consider themselves unfortunate not to take a point.
Indeed, the visitors should have been playing with ten men.
Striker Tommy Treacher was very lucky to escape a red card for a poor challenge on former Holbeach left-back Craig Parker.
That incident came seconds after Boston complained that Richard Ford had been elbowed in an aerial battle and referee Richard King could have avoided what happened next by stopping play due to a head injury.
Treacher’s lunge on Parker somehow only brought a booking and before the start of the second half Jarvis made sure that he got the message over the importance of keeping 11 men on the pitch.
In between Stevens’ injury and Treacher’s lucky escape came the winner.
Parker conceded possession when he might have settled for a throw-in, Holbeach switched the play and found Ward in space.
He still had plenty to do but a left-foot drive flew past James Doughty into the far corner of the net.
At that stage it was no more than the Tigers deserved.
Josh Ford, facing one of his former clubs, missed the target with a couple of early opportunities while Doughty held onto Jake Clitheroe’s corner.
The only concerns came on the counter-attack as Rick Drury denied Alex Beck soon after Jack Wightwick wasted a golden chance with a weak effort.
The Poachers, though, were more positive after the interval and at times Holbeach were desperately holding out.
Beck and Wightwick forced smart saves from Drury who was generally well protected.
However, the defensive work was almost undone by sloppy marking at a set-piece as midway through the second half Matt Kennedy’s corner found Lori Borbely who sent a free header off the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
That was a warning but Richard Ford twice threatened an equaliser and Holbeach’s only real response came when Treacher tried to find the top corner but Doughty held on.
Right at the end of stoppage-time there was another scare but the Tigers claimed another clean sheet - it’s now nearly five hours since they conceded a goal.
This was a big test of their title credentials in extending the unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions since the opening day of the season.
After four wins out of five league matches in August, Boston were level on points at the top of the table.
But they couldn’t find a way past Holbeach’s battling display.
While you might expect the Tigers to produce free-flowing football - and they surely will do that - this was a different side and sometimes you have to ‘win ugly’.
4-2-3-1: Doughty; Lambley, Ashton, Stevens, Parker; Ford, Fleming (sub Kennedy 65 mins); Eyett, Borbely, Wightwick; Beck. Subs not used: Wood, Jencsi, Basker.
4-4-2: Drury 8; Worthington 8, Clay 8, Stevens 6 (sub Maltby 32 mins, 6), Ward 8; Clitheroe 6, Tidswell 6, Warfield 8; King 6; Ford 6 (sub Limb 74 mins), Treacher 5 (sub Madigan 88 mins). Subs not used: Roberts, Cartwright.
Ward (34 mins, 0-1).
King, Treacher, Wightwick, Ashton, R Ford (fouls).
Chris Ward – fantastic winner and superb defensive display with key role to protect that advantage.
Oadby Town (H) – Saturday.