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Pilgrims 4-3 Kettering Town

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

As derby encounters go, this was one to rank among the all-time greats. It had everything - two sendings off, full-blooded challenges, an excellent atmosphere and a feast of goals in a real see-saw twist in fortunes. Not for years has York Street witnessed a clash quite like it. Boston United eventually got the better of their neighbours from Northamptonshire. But it was a titanic struggle with a couple of trigger-points adding to the drama. The first came in the 66th minute at a time when the Pilgrims were clinging to a 3-2 lead. Loanee midfielder David Norris tangled with Kettering defender Colin Vowden. Referee Anthony Green adjudged it a two-footed over-the-top challenge and hoisted the red card. Kettering almost immediately drew level, but then saw any rewards snatched from them when Vowden upended Gary Mills to incur a second yellow card and concede the 18-yard free kick from which Paul Wilson smacked home United's 75th minute winner. But those incidents were just part of the story. The visitors belied their rock-bottom status in the Conference by producing a 25-minute spell of free-flowing, attack-minded football. The big surprise in this period was the fact that Kettering prised out only one goal - a fact not lost on Boston manager Steve Evans. He said: "For the early part of the first half we just weren't in it and could easily have been three or four goals behind. But the character and durability of our players paid off for us." In the opening minutes Darren Collins seized on a misplaced defensive header by Lee Howarth but fired wide when well placed. Then home keeper Paul Bastock punched away under pressure from Collins. Next, in the 18th minute, Martin Matthews headed wide from a cross by Carl Adams, who then fluffed a golden chance when blasting off-target after Brett McNamara headed down a Collins cross. The visitors finally cashed in with a 22nd minute goal when MCNAMARA rifled in off a post from 18 yards, Dale Watkins having created the opening.

The only Boston chance up to that point was when Mark Rawle glanced a 15th-minute header wide. But after being stung by Kettering's goal, Boston suddenly came to life with a three goals in a ten minute burst. Paul RAYNOR equalised on 33 minutes when looping the ball in after an edge-of-the-area scramble. Five minutes later, the match was turned on its head when RAWLE forced his way down the left and crashed home a long angled drive from the corner of the box. In the 43rd minute, the lead was stretched to 3-1 with NORRIS heading in from a Paul Wilson corner - his fourth goal in three appearances on loan from First Division Bolton. But any thoughts that the match was all over were soon dismissed by Kettering's renewed positive approach at the start of the second half. The visitors powered forward again and exerted plenty of pressure on the home rearguard, movement which forced Howarth and Colin Hoyle to make separate goal-line clearances. Kettering pulled a goal back in the 55th minute when WATKINS forced the ball home from a teasing corner by set-piece expert Adams. Drama then erupted with Norris being dismissed on 66 minute and United's woe was compounded three minutes later when a curling flag-kick from ADAMS rattled off the far post and dropped in to level the scores. Boston's forays were hugely infrequent and Evans seemed to settle for a point when withdrawing Ken Charlery in favour of Gary Mills. But ironically, it was a purposeful run from Mills which ended with Vowden chopping him down on the edge of the box in the 74th minute. And seconds after the Kettering defender trudged off, WILSON fired home what proved to be the winner with an arrowing free-kick. Boston still had a late scare to weather when Joby Gowshall headed away from close to goal as Collins looked to convert a Matt Fisher cross.

United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Gowshall, 3. Lodge, 4. Hoyle, 5. Howarth, 6. Wilson (Fewings 80), 7. Norris, 8. Charlery (Mills 66), 9. Raynor (Costello 76), 10. Rawle, 11. Dick. Subs (not used): Nuttell, Conroy (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.