Pilgrims 1-2 Dover Athletic
by Barbara Singleton
Two catastrophic defensive lapses proved the trigger for disaster as Boston United were left still seeking their first Conference win. The Pilgrims were unquestionably the dominant side for most of their York Street clash against Dover. But a double press of the self-destruct button ultimately undermined long spells of good work to leave United in the division's basement area with just three points out of a possible 15. The first moment of woe came in the 43rd minute when midfielder Simon Livett tried to over-elaborate inside his own penalty area, ultimately prodding a short pass to colleague Colin Hoyle. But he in turn lost possession to Joff VANSITTART who turned smartly to bury a shot beyond Paul Bastock. The trauma doubled in the 60th minute when HOYLE inexplicably prodded the ball past his own keeper from an acute angle after seemingly being caught in two minds over whether or not to shepherd the ball out with Vansittart in close attendance. That made it 2-0 to the visitors. And although home striker Miquel DE SOUZA halved the deficit in the 75th minute, the twin disaster proved too much to overcome. United boss Steve Evans said: "I just don't know what went through Simon's and Colin's minds at those crucial moments. But at this level you simply cannot afford to make these mistakes.
And as a manager you just cannot legislate for individuals' actions. We were certainly the dominant side for the first 20 minutes and then throughout the second half when Dover hardly got over the halfway line. We had plenty of chances, but didn't have any luck in front of goal." There was certainly plenty of early encouragement for Boston - enough to suggest it might have been their day. After only 15 seconds, Livett fired just too high with an 18-yard drive. Five more chances came and went before the match reached its 20 minute mark, with shots from Andrew Stanhope (twice) and Lee Howarth and a header from the hugely influential Andy Lodge all missing the target by inches. Dover eventually responded with Matt Caruthers seeing a shot blocked by Joby Gowshall. Next, Tony Browne volleyed over from eight yards and then Jake Leberl was thwarted by a fine double save from Bastock. After the early disaster in the second half - ironically just seconds after Mark Rawle had seen a shot saved by Dover keeper Paul Hyde - Boston stepped up the pressure and exerted immense pressure. But Dover, with defender Lee Shearer in tremendous form, held out until De Souza sweetly volleyed in from a Stanhope cross. The final 15 minutes saw frantic action in and around the Dover area with De Souza, Stanhope, Raynor and Lodge all going agonisingly close to an equaliser.
United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Gowshall, 3. Lucas (Fewings 65), 4. Hoyle, 5. Howarth, 6. Lodge, 7. Stanhope, 8. De Souza, 9. Rawle, 10. Livett (Costello 46), 11. Raynor. Subs (not used): Minett, Elding, Martin.