Gainsborough Trinity manager Steve Housham says that he never stopped believing his side would get all three points, despite leaving it late against fellow strugglers Leamington on Saturday.
Darryn Stamp’s late strike ensured a 1-0 win for the Blues, moving them off the foot of the table and extending their unbeaten run to three games – something that Housham described as a big morale boost for the team.
“I told the team at half time that one piece of genius would win us the game, and we got that from Simon Russell to set up Darryn for a birthday goal.”
“We knew we would get something out of the game if we stayed switched on.”
“We’ve got seven points out of nine this week, which we’d have taken at the start – even if we should have got all three on Tuesday. We’re off the bottom now, and that makes nice reading for us.”
The pace and persistence of Rhys Oates and Conner Robinson caused the home side’s backline problems early on, with Robinson in particular looking threatening when allowed to get into stride.
Despite looking the better of the teams going forward, Trinity’s defensive fallibility once again looked like being their downfall, with Lee Chilton forcing an athletic save from Phil Barnes on 29 minutes, moments after the veteran goalkeeper dived at the feet of Stefan Moore to deny the former Aston Villa striker.
The Blues were then spared again by Barnes, this time getting the faintest of touches to force Elliott Sandy’s shot onto the bar and away with 34 minutes gone.
Trinity’s best chance of the half came three minutes before the interval, when Oates forced his way past Paul McCone, only to drag his shot across the face of goal.
The home side continued in the ascendancy after the break, and should have taken the lead when Lee Chilton pounced on a poor defensive header from Josh Lacey, only to blast the ball high over the Trinity crossbar.
Oates’ liveliness kept Trinity well and truly in the game in the early stages of the second half - having a shot blocked on the line and sliding Liam Davis in for a chance that was eventually cleared by Liam Daly – before being replaced by Bradley Barraclough with an hour gone.
The introduction of Barraclough and Stamp coincided with Trinity’s best spell of the game, with Robinson and Lee Clayton both having shots blocked at close quarters in the Leamington box.
Sensing the possibility of an important three points, Housham urged his side to push on and break the deadlock, but the Blues were nearly made to pay on the break with 10 minutes to go, when Chilton headed against the post from close range when it was easier to score.
Just as the game looked to be drifting towards stalemate, Simon Russell’s 25-yard shot struck the post with Tony Breeden beaten, allowing Stamp to hammer the ball into an empty net and celebrate wildly in front of the visiting supporters.
With the Blues now off the bottom of the table, attentions turn to the FA Cup, where they take on Rushall Olympic at the Northolme on Saturday.
Leamington: Breeden, McCone, Morley, Magunda, Daly (Green, 90+2), Mace, Dodd, Sandy, S.Moore (Johnson, 69), L.Moore (Taylor, 79), Chilton. Subs not used: Husband, Fenney
Yellow: Morley (unsporting conduct, 4 mins)
Trinity: Barnes, Jonathan Williams, Ward, Roma, Wilde, Davis (Stamp, 73), Toner (Lacey, 44), Russell, Clayton, Robinson, Oates (Barraclough, 61). Subs not used: Martin, Josh Williams.
Yellow: Wilde (unsporting conduct, 56 mins), Ward (unsporting conduct, 78).
Referee: Mr A Hendley.