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Gainsborough Trinity 0-1 Pilgrims

Unibond League

Match Report by Chris Donkin

For football supporters Santa, turkey, alcohol abuse and couch potatoing all play second fiddle to the traditional derby fixtures. However, who exactly are the Pilgrims' local figures-of-hate. The Conference rivalry with Kettering always used to provide talking points. The much lamented local fanzines "From Behind Your Fences" and "Forever Amber" often used to make a big thing about the largely imagined contretemps between United and Lincoln City. Over at Tattershall Road, Boston Town would like to think of themselves as local rivals - but, quite literally, they are not in the same league. So in the late 90s we turn to our county neighbours Gainsborough Trinity to provide the "derby" opposition over the festive season. Trinity are a homely, friendly club who are not exactly next door neighbours - living as they do 55 miles away. However, the away match at Gainsborough is one of the highlights of the season. The Social Club (which is accessible at half-time) has to be one of the most hospitable licensed premises in the Unibond League. The catering facilities in the ground (check out those chips and mushy peas) are unrivalled. It is impossible to feel any "let's rub their noses in it" sentiments for the supporters of Trinity. However this was a match that the Pilgrims had to win .... and win it they did.

United's first half performance at the Northolme was as good as any Boston display this season. Fee had employed a defensive line up with five at the back (Gowshall, Fee, Hardy, Curtis and Withe) four in midfield (Armstrong, Appleby, Charles and Mason) and only Paul Watts left alone up front. This allowed the Pilgrims to dominate the midfield with their impressive passing game and to restrict the Blues to half hearted long range efforts. Watts was willing, if unproductive, in his lone ranger role until he was stretchered off in the 33rd minute. Chasing a loose ball that the home keeper was about to claim he collided with the Gainsborough custodian Sollitt. This was a fairly innocent collision as two young men tried to win a 50-50 challenge. The resultant clash however left Watts with ligament damage and unable to continue and Sollitt rather worse for wear. Sollitt did soldier on for a while but did not re-emerge for the second half. His place between the sticks was taken by ex-United forward Grant Morrow.

In the 40th minute United struck. Some good work by the impressive Armstrong and Gowshall ended up with a cross from the right being headed home by the fittest 38 year old alive - Steve CHARLES. Just before half time, Trinity shot themselves in the foot when their centre forward Kevin Riley got himself sent off for verbal abuse of a linesman.

The second half was a total non-event. One would have imagined that United would have thought that a chance to play against ten men with a stand-in goalkeeper would provide an opportunity to boost the goal difference.

However it was not to be and indeed United were left hanging on for a one goal victory as the numerically disadvantaged home side attacked with enthusiasm.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Chris Withe, 4. Greg Fee, 5. Martin Hardy, 6. Steve Charles, 7. Simon Armstrong, 8. Steve Appleby, 9. Paul Watts, 10. Richard Mason, 11. Len Curtis, 12. Paul Cavell, 14. Andrew Stanhope, 15. Danny Marshall

Pilgrims 1-0 Gainsborough Trinity

Unibond League

Match Report by Chris Donkin

Gainsborough Trinity have been languishing in the Northern Premier League for nearly thirty years now and it is a languish that they have learned to speak fluently. The only problem with Gainsborough is that they have not realised that their role in these fixtures is to lose and before Boxing Day they had only lost one of the eight league matches between the sides since United were relegated from the Conference.

The match had some similarities to the first game in that United won 1-0 thanks to a Charles first half goal. As a spectacle the match was something of a disappointment for the large bank holiday crowd, but at least the three points were safely pocketed.

United persisted with their 5-4-1 formation and indeed the only change to the 14 on duty at Gainsborough was that Filson (now free from suspension) replaced the injured Paul Watts. This ultra cautious approach caused the Pilgrims some problems late in the game as the men from the Northolme surged forward in search of an equaliser. Despite this, the lads hung on to record an impressive festive season double over the men from North Lincolnshire.

CHARLES' tenth minute strike was a terrific volley from just outside the box that soared into the top corner of the net. In the 55th minute Gowshall fired just wide after good work from Charles and Armstrong. The match ended with Filson getting booked for some argy-bargy with a Blues defender. I really can't remember any other incidents worthy of comment in a game that will be remembered more for the result than the performance.

So, at last the Pilgrims have managed to do the double over Trinity. The last time this occurred was back in 76/7, when we went on to win the League. Much as I would miss my annual visit to Gainsborough, let's hope this is an omen and that Kettering once again become the Boxing Day destination in 1998.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Chris Withe, 4. Greg Fee, 5. Martin Hardy, 6. Steve Charles, 7. Simon Armstrong, 8. Steve Appleby, 9. Martin Filson, 10. Richard Mason, 11. Len Curtis, 12. Paul Cavell, 14. Andrew Stanhope, 15. Danny Marshall