AFC Bournemouth 2-1 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Seldom can so much devastating heartbreak have been felt by Boston United and their supporters. With stoppage time arriving, the fourth official hoisted the board indicating four minutes of additional play to be negotiated. The Pilgrims led by a goal of stunning quality from winger Mark Angel. But then the home side delivered the cruellest of double blows to completely turn the match on its head and leave United with no points from a match which had looked like yielding three. It was all a bit much to absorb for all Pilgrims' connections - not least manager Neil Thompson, who said: "It shows what a cruel game it is. Our dressing room was in pieces. It is so difficult to handle the emotions everyone felt straight after the game. At 1-0 up we had chances to have won comfortably, but we didn't take them and that is the hardest part to accept." It was a match which had looked a tough assignment on paper, but one - as things progressed - seemed well within United's grasp, moreso when Angel struck in spectacular fashion in the 77th minute. However, there was nothing to prepare the Boston players for the anguish which unfolded so late on, notably after Mark Greaves had been controversially sent off for two yellow card offences, the latter apparently only being spotted by a linesman after the referee had initially waved play on. Early in proceedings, both sides opened positively with Paul Bastock gathering Wade Elliott's low shot and then Angel's right-wing free-kick being parried by Chris Tardif. The Cherries' keeper was then forced to punch away Redfearn's return ball into the box as Richard Logan threatened. Tardif made a great save in the 11th minute when he denied Simon Weatherstone in a one-on-one situation. Next, Bastock did well to cut out Elliott's centre after he had skipped past Ben Chapman and Matt Hocking. Then a Weatherstone volley dropped wide of a post. Boston suffered a worrying moment on 36 minutes when Chapman clattered into the advertisings boards while attempting a clearance.
But he soon recovered. Carl Fletcher's intervention denied Greaves for Boston as he closed in on Weatherstone's low centre moments before Bastock made a good save to deny Danny Thomas' 44th minute drive, after he had skipped past Balmer to fire goalwards. At the start of the second half, Logan's low shot was gathered well by Tardif from Peter Duffield's knockdown before the Cherries keeper was forced to make another save as he presented the ball straight to Greaves who fired in a shot from 35 yards. Bournemouth were certainly unlucky not to take the lead on 58 minutes when Brian Stock's 20-yarder came back off the angle for Bastock to claim. Garreth O'Connor's great run past three Boston defenders into the box was then halted by a superb tackle from Hocking as the forerunner to a spell of intense home pressure which had boston at full stretch to repel. Substitute Feeney's shot-on-the-turn then went over from Lewis Buxton's low assist. Then Stock's 75th free-kick, after Balmer fouled Feeney, was headed away by Chapman for a corner as Boston continued to defend excellently. The Pilgrims's efforts were rewarded when they grabbed the lead in the 78th minute when ANGEL rattled home a 35-yarder past a stunned Tardif. But Boston suffered a setback when Greaves was red-carded a minute later for a foul on Feeney, his second yellow card of the afternoon despite the referee missing the foul and relying on an assistant's decision. Weatherstone had the chance to wrap the game up a minute later when he went chasing onto a long ball from Chapman but saw his fierce shot parried wide by Tardif. Logan then fired just over in the 89th minute after Weatherstone had played him in. Those misses proved costly as Bournemouth equalised in stoppage time when Neil REDFEARN appeared to bundle the ball over his own line from Stephen Purches' low driven centre. And the unthinkable happened two minutes into stoppage time when FEENEY fired in after Bastock had done well to parry Stock's shot, to seal a somewhat fortuitous win for Bournemouth.
United team: (4-4-2): 1. Bastock, 2. Chapman, 3. Hocking, 4. McCarthy, 5. Balmer, 6. Greaves, 7. Redfearn, 8. Angel (Gould 85), 9. S Weatherstone, 10. Logan (Town 90), 11. Duffield ( Bennett 82). Subs (not used): L Thompson, Conroy (gk).