Sleaford Town player-manager Jamie Shaw insisted his players deserved all the credit after picking up their first point of the season on Saturday.
It looked business as usual for the United Counties League Premier’s bottom side as they fell behind to derby rivals Boston Town in the second minute to Harry Limb’s penalty at Eslaforde Park.
Sam Jackson scored Sleaford’s first goal for seven matches to level before Chris Shipley’s powerful close-range header put the Poachers back in front on 62 minutes.
Boston created and missed several chances to put the game beyond Sleaford who were reduced to 10 men for the last 10 minutes to a sinbin.
But a season which has been, at times, bizarre took another storybook twist in stoppage-time.
Having gambled and thrown himself into the fray as an extra striker in place of a defender, Shaw finished off the far post with his first touch.
“Credit to all the lads, I’d scrapped and scraped to bring some lads in from other local sides today and they all performed admirably,” Shaw said.
“Credit also goes to those lads who’ve stuck with us through thick and thin all season, such as skipper Ewan Armstrong who travels back from York every week to play.
“These are the lads who really deserve the credit for today’s point, I’m a mere facilitator.”
Few of his fellow managers would begrudge the Town boss a highlight for his unstinting and often thankless task to keep the team afloat.
While Town remain rock-bottom and in need of a miracle to secure another season in the Premier Division, Shaw’s endeavours have drawn widespread praise among the grassroots community.
“I would really like to say thanks for the messages of support I’ve been receiving,” he said.
“I don’t do this role to receive gratitude, but nevertheless the comments are really appreciated.”
Shaw added: “Boston were the better side on the day and created enough chances to have won a couple of matches,” he said.
“They have some top quality players in that side and bar some wayward finishing today could have been home and hosed.
“I said to the lads, though, before the game and at half-time that playing the bottom side brings a certain amount of pressure and expectation.
“We had to try and play on that and work hard enough to force errors and create doubt in their minds.
“It was important to me that despite the potential gulf in quality we didn’t become subservient to Boston and got in their faces.”
Despite the shocking opening, the home side stuck to the game plan and dug in to keep themselves in the game.
After several chances, Town caught the visitors cold with a well-worked goal from Jackson who finished off a passing move involving Jake Ellis and Ant Besford.
The second half was more of the same, with Boston enjoying much of the possession and territory, while Sleaford worked hard to close space and defend.
And when the overworked defence did crack, young keeper Justin Maxfield came to their rescue.
“As an 18-year old lad it’s hard to praise him enough for the two games where he’s stepped in at short notice,” Shaw said.
Boston restored their lead when Town failed to defend a short corner properly and Shipley headed in.
The hosts hung in, hoping for one more chance, but their task grew harder with a sin-binning 11 minutes from time.
Yet with time running out, for once this season, fate decided to favour Sleaford, and particularly Shaw.
“There is no point pretending we deserved a point on the balance of play,” Shaw concluded.
“However, I like to think for attitude, heart and a refusal to lie down that maybe we were just about worthy of one.”