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Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 Pilgrims

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

Boston United stand seven points off the pace in the race for a Football League spot after an Ashley Vickers goal handed Dagenham & Redbridge victory in last night's crucial Conference clash. Defeat at the hands of their main title rivals in front of the live Sky Sports cameras - the second time Boston have lost on the box this season - has given Dagenham a healthy advantage in the race for the title. While Steve Evans' Boston continued to lack fluidity and must now reply on others to come to their aid as they look to bounce back from a dismal run of three straight defeats. Last night's encounter in a tough clash at Victoria Road was arguably a case in point in a match where scrappy play largely dominated. The first half in particular saw little in the way of creative or cohesive play as both sides cancelled each other out with tactics bereft of genuine width. Of the few clear openings that did emerge, it was Dagenham who possessed the greater potency and inside the first few seconds Paul Terry found space on the edge of the box only to slice his shot on the run well wide. In response, Boston made a brief foray when Anthony Elding and Mark Clifford linked well before Daggers keeper Tony Roberts gathered the resulting cross. His opposite number, Paul Bastock was called into action to save well after 15 minutes when Dean Hooper fired in a shot towards the near post. But Boston's attempts to find a way through a resolute home back line looked laboured throughout the first period with only a miscued shot on the turn by Elding, a deflected snap-shot by Simon Weatherstone and another cross by Clifford posing any danger. Back at the other end, Bastock had to do well to tip away a 32nd minute curling free-kick by Steve Heffer.

But he was unable to prevent the Daggers from breaking the deadlock five minutes later. A deep free-kick out on the left was headed on by Lee Goodwin on the 18-yard line and VICKERS cashed in on slack defensive work by Neil Tarrant and ex-Dagger Jim Rodwell to net with an eight-yard right-foot drive. Despite losing the services of Weatherstone through injury to a tackle from Matt Jones which earned the Daggers man a yellow card, the Pilgrims shuffled their pack and turned in a more determined display after the break. However, the desperately sought-after equaliser never materialised. There was certainly more purposeful foraging with Daryl Clare far more effective operating in attack and several times his neat work almost helped to conjure up openings. In the 53rd minute he broke free, shook off two defenders, but then scuffed a 20-yard drive past a post. Later on, Elding was inches away from reaching a superb curling cross at the far post. And in the dying throes, another Clare flick created space for Darren Beesley, but again Boston were off-target. The nearest Boston came to grabbing an equaliser was in the 70th minute when Clifford played a neat short throw-in to Simon Rusk, got the ball back and whipped over a forceful cross for Mark Monington to bullet a header off the crossbar. As close as United came to salvaging a point and as they pressed forward, spaces opened up for Dagenham and they could easily as have doubled their advantage. After initial second half near misses through efforts by Ken Charlery and Mark Stein, the home side went closest on 83 minutes when Vickers rose to meet a Jones corner and forced Bastock into an excellent tip-over.

Boston team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Lodge (McGarry 84), 4. Thompson, 5. Monington, 6. Rodwell, 7. Rusk, 8. Tarrant (Angel 46), 9. Clare, 10. S Weatherstone (Beesley 46), 11. Elding. Subs (not used): Brown, Conroy(gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.