Pilgrims 0-3 Exeter City
by Barbara Singleton
Stability and success in football is all about consistency in performance levels. But Boston United showed virtually none of the scintillating style which had highlighted their display at Rushden and Diamonds only a few days earlier. If there was ever an example of "after the Lord Mayor's Show", then this was probably it. United were slow out of the blocks and allowed Exeter to dictate from the early phases. And once in the ascendancy, the visitors grew in confidence and never relinquished control. The match had offered the Pilgrims a golden chance to put a sizeable points difference between themselves and the nether regions of the table. But as results panned out, the whole basement zone placings are firmly back in the melting pot. Although Exeter opened brightly, with midfielders Martin Thomas, James Coppinger and Andy Roscoe at the centre of many good build-ups, there was little in the way of a direct threat on Paul Bastock's goal. But equally disappointing was the fact that United mustered nothing in response either. The first moment of potency came on 23 minutes when a Thomas shot was deflected into the path of Steve Flack, but his swift shot-on-the-turn was safely clutched by Bastock. Boston remained lack-lustre in the attacking third and paid the price for their subdued and strangely low-key approach when Exeter went ahead on 36 minutes. Roscoe made ground down the left and fired over a low cross.
The United defence failed to clear their lines and Carl Pettifer's subsequent drive from the edge of the box was inadvertently prodded past Bastock by Matt HOCKING. Throughout the first 45 minutes Boston's ineffectiveness was illustrated by the fact that City keeper Kevin Miller had not had a single troublesome moment. And nine minutes into the second half the home problems doubled when visiting substitute Reinier MOOR slid in unmarked to convert at close range a low cross from the right by Flack. It took United until the 65th minute to conjure up a shot on target, but even then substitute Stuart Douglas fired tamely at Miller. The Exeter keeper, though, had to genuinely earn his keep in the 74th minute when producing a sparkling save to push away a Ross Weatherstone volley following a cross by Tony Battersby. Immediately at the other end, Bastock performed similar heroics to thwart Moor. But MOOR was not to be denied in the 81st minute when he netted again with an exquisite lob after being found unmarked and in the clear on the left by a raking pass from Coppinger who had nipped in to dispossess Ben Chapman. United boss Neil Thompson said afterwards: "We were beaten by a better team on the day. We did not have enough tempo, lacked a spark and were poor overall. It is a puzzle, but we now need to get back to work and sort things out for a difficult run of matches coming up."
United team: (4-4-2) 1. Bastock, 2. R Weatherstone, 3. Chapman, 4. Warburton (Greaves 67), 5. Hocking, 6. Bennett, 7. Higgins (Douglas 67), 8. Angel (Cook 67), 9. L Thompson, 10. Battersby, 11. S Weatherstone. Subs not used: Redfearn, Conroy (gk).