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Pilgrims 0-1 Hayes

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

December started with the darkest of days for Boston United - at least in terms of footballing fortunes. The Pilgrims turned in a lacklustre display in a match where big things were expected of them against opponents who had alarmingly slithered to seven straight Conference losses. Steve Evans' side had been hoping to break out of their own sequence of eight league fixtures without a victory. But for whatever reason, the United aspirations went pear-shaped with Hayes prising out maximum spoils from a largely drab encounter. The visitors clearly looked content to settle for a share of the spoils. So a three-point haul more than bettered their expectations. Boston manager Evans said: "We lacked any sort of fluency and passion and just couldn't seem to open them up and create chances like we had done against other teams in previous weeks. Up to this match, I had been delighted with some of our performances. We had picked up some great points on our travels. But it's no good if we can't look after our home form. We have got a free week ahead of us now. And it's likely that there will be two or three departures and a couple of new faces arriving in time to improve things ready for our busy schedule over Christmas." On Saturday, both United and Hayes were ineffective forces in the opening half-hour. During this spell, the best half-chances for Boston saw weak headers from Colin Hoyle, Lee Howarth and Ken Charlery all fly off-target.

In response, Hayes full-back Bobby Bazardi whipped in a cross-shot which Paul Bastock tipped round a post and later on it took a terrific challenge from Joby Gowshall to deny Steve McKimm. It took until the 39th minute for Boston to have a shot on target with Paul Raynor testing giant keeper Bertrand Bossu with a curling free-kick. The same scenario unfolded again three minutes later from another set piece. In between, Howarth shot over from an Andy Turner corner. Boston exerted pressure again briefly after the interval with a couple of corners posing more threats to the Hayes' rearguard. But the visitors survived and then carried out a classic counter-punch by taking a 59th minute lead. Dave STEVENS skipped clear onto a pass from McKimm. And despite being forced wide by Bastock's advance, Stevens retained control and buried an acute angled drive as the home rearguard tried to cover. Boston went close to levelling matters in the 75th minute when Howarth stabbed wide after Charlery had flicked on a Stanhope corner. Then Stanhope saw a shot superbly blocked by Bossu after being set free by Charlery and substitute Mark Rawle. At the other end, Bastock kept Boston in the hunt with two good saves from shots by Barry Moore. Boston stepped up the pressure in seven minutes of stoppage time, but the closest they came was from wayward finishes by Howarth, Charlery and Rawle.

United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Gowshall, 3. Lodge (Lucas 85), 4. Hoyle, 5. Howarth, 6. Mills, 7. Stanhope, 8. Charlery, 9. Raynor, 10. Fewings (Rawle 65), 11. Turner. Subs (not used): Nuttell, Wooding, Martin (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.