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Pilgrims 1-0 Darlington

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

Not much in the way of entertainment here. But the haul of three more vital Third Division points should not be under-estimated. Victory over Darlington courtesy of a scrambled goal right on the stroke of half-time - credited to Steve Melton - took Boston United past the 50-point mark which is generally seen as the total which guarantees survival. And it would now need a miraculous conspiracy of fates to see anything other than a comfortable finishing position for the Pilgrims. And this was arguably the result which once and for all removes all talk of relegation matters from the York Street agenda. The first half was mainly a tale of Darlington holding sway with some neat phases of play and a clutch of chances came their way. Three times in the first few minutes the visitors went close, first when leading scorer Barry Conlon fired over and then tested Paul Bastock with a header and then when Neil Teggart saw a deflected drive blocked by the home keeper. Boston seldom got into the argument as a cohesive attacking unit and their cause was not helped by a gashed foot injury which forced winger Danny Thomas to be substituted by Lee Thompson after just 12 minutes. Ten minutes later it took an amazing goalline clearance by Lee Beevers to prevent Teggart from converting a Craig Russell centre. Boston again had to look to Bastock in the 35th minute when he tipped away a Conlon header from a Neil Wainwright centre and then smothered the loose ball with two visiting strikers closing in to pounce.

It took Boston until the 45th minute to have any sort of effort directed at the Darlington goal. But then David Noble’s corner was headed down by Dene Cropper and scuffed seemingly into goal by MELTON. Doubts in many parts of the ground surrounded whether the ball had entered the net, but a linesman confirmed the matter to Boston’s delight. The Pilgrims were more of an attacking force in the second half, but only after Darlington had gone close again with Teggart seeing a shot on the run deflected wide off Paul Ellender’s sliding challenge. By the 58th minute United had used their full allocation of substitutes with Matt Hocking and Chris Holland coming on for injury victims Mark Greaves and Stuart Douglas. On the attacking front, Thompson and Noble had low shots blocked by the Quakers’ rearguard. And then in the 66th minute Thompson again just missed out when miscuing wide from a Tom Bennett centre. Then on 73 minutes Melton cut in from the left and smacked a curling right-footer across goal and past the far post. Darlington answered with a couple of attacking moves but again lacked the finishing touch as first Teggart blasted too high and then a low drive from Conlon was held by Bastock. As the visitors rallied in the dying throes, Daniel Graham saw a low shot booted away from close to his own line by Beevers and in their final serious foray, the visitors were again denied by Bastock with a tip over save to deny Mathew Clarke’s header from a Mark Convery corner.

United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Beevers, Greaves (Hocking 58), Ellender, Chapman; Thomas (Thompson 12), Bennett, Noble, Melton; Douglas (Holland 46), Cropper. Subs (not used): Hurst, Croudson (gk).

Match report copyright © Barbara Singleton, 2004.