Trailing 1-0, everything but a goal, and the big Wealdstone electronic clock was reading 90 minutes and two seconds. But those two seconds were all that young Dean Bown needed to turn Borough’s afternoon around.
Again and again, the Sports had flooded forward against a Wealdstone side hanging desperately on to their slim first-half lead.
And one last time, Jay Lovett and Simon Johnson combined to set Gavin McCallum free for a perfect cross – met at the back post by Bown’s header for 1-1.
It may have been only a point, but it felt like a victory for Tommy Widdrington’s team, stitched together to make best use of all his available resources – from 17-year-olds Bown and Ryan Worrall right through to their mentor, Academy coach Jay Lovett. And it turned into a tactical master-class.
With skipper Ian Simpemba suspended, and Adam Watts, Charlie Lossaso and Sam Beale all injured, Lovett slotted into a back three alongside ex-Palace youngster Kiran Khinda-John and Marvin Hamilton.
McCallum and Johnson pushed on relentlessly from the wing-back positions, while Dean Sinclair and Matt Aldred held the midfield.
Up front, Worrall and Darren Lok wove patterns around the powerhouse figure of Richard Pacquette.
On paper, it looked an improbable task, and there were early wobbles against a buoyant, freshly promoted Wealdstone.
Scott McGleish should have given them an early lead but fired wastefully high, but Borough steadied the ship and had their own chances with a Pacquette shot and a Sinclair header narrowly wide.
But on the half-hour Luke Pigden skipped on to a flicked header beyond the centre-backs and smashed Wealdstone ahead from the edge of the area.
It was a lead they held until the break, and they were marginally worth it.
The second half could not have been more different. McCallum and Johnson were terrorising Wealdstone down the flanks, and with the Sports playing as high as they dared, the home defence was squeezed back and back. Keeper Jonathan North produced several fine saves and home defenders put bodies on the line to keep their goal intact.
On the hour, McCallum was upended in the box, and Sinclair’s low spot-kick was well saved by North. But with not a hint of dejection, Tommy’s troops simply redoubled the pressure.
Pacquette’s goalbound header was miraculously cleared off the line, and Lok hit a brilliant shot on the turn which North somehow tipped away.
Eleven second-half corners had still brought no breakthrough, and a game that might have been won three or four times over seemed to be slipping away.
But then came the two-second turnaround – and Borough’s season was under way.
Borough: Carey; Khinda-John, Hamilton, Lovett; Johnson, Sinclair, Aldred, McCallum; Worrall (Bown 66min), Pacquette, Lok (Walker 80min). Sub not used: Welch.
Wealdstone: North, Mills, Martin, Hamblin, Cronin, Godfrey, Wright, Pigden, McGleish, Hickey, Malcolm. Subs: Parker, Turner, Collins, Little, Hammond.
Referee: Andy Serrano
Borough MoM: Gavin McCallum – full of running and skill