Swansea City 0-0 Pilgrims
by Barbara & Craig Singleton
Against ever-lengthening odds, Boston United prised out a crucial point in the face of immense adversity at Swansea. The Pilgrims manfully held out for a goalless draw despite playing for a large chunk of the second half with only 10 men - and for the final 10 minutes with just nine amber shirts on the park. The reason for the steadily diminishing numbers was the fact that referee Paul Taylor chose to wield his cards at regular intervals, with United midfielder Tom Bennett and striker Stuart Douglas both finding themselves on the receiving end of a double dose of yellow to incur early departures from the action. It was a match United could ill-afford to lose. So when the twin dismissal kicked in, many loyal followers must have feared the worst. However, the remaining nine heroes dug in magnificently to thwart the best Swansea could muster. And on a night when the likes of Bristol Rovers and Exeter both won, the vital nature of this share of the spoils was plain to see. United went into the clash with a reshuffled line-up, but the desire to succeed was not diminished. Exchanges in the opening 15 minutes were generally fairly even and with little in the way of clear opportunities - although an untaken headed half chance fell to John Williams from a Roberto Martinez cross for Swansea while at the other end Simon Weatherstone was off-target with a long-range effort after keeper Neil Cutler had miscued a clearance. Boston came desperately close to breaking the deadlock with their first real opening on 23 minutes when Balmer got on the end of a Neil Redfearn free-kick but saw his header parried by the keeper. Then, Costello's follow-up cross-shot hit an upright. In the 28th minute Weatherstone triggered a fine breakaway move for the Pilgrims with a surging run down the left. He fed Bennett, but his shot was deflected wide. Moments later Cutler was called to action as a drive by Redfearn also went close.
Swansea, with Martinez and Leon Britton at the heart of most of their good work, were quick to launch attacks of their own and the Boston rearguard had to be alert to fend off the assaults - particularly one spell of pressure around the 35 minute mark. In reply, Boston broke again just before the break and Cutler saved easily from a tame effort by Douglas. The second half was six minutes old before the first sniff of a chance arrived. It fell to Richards, but his effort from a Leon Hylton cross failed to trouble Paul Bastock. Boston responded with good link-up play between Richard Logan and Costello with the latter seeing a fierce effort deflected wide. The tempo lifted with chances arriving in quick succession at both ends. First Bastock performed heroics to save a header from Williams from a Nugent cross and in reply Logan fed Weatherstone, but his shot was diverted into the side netting. Boston found themselves down to 10 men when Bennett was dismissed on 67 minutes for a second bookable offence when fouling Martinez. Swansea increased the pressure and Ben Chapman had to defend desperately to deny Nugent at the expense of a corner. More Swansea pressure brought further attacking threats on the Boston goal with Bastock superbly tipping an effort from Nugent away to safety off the bar. The United anxiety intensified in the 81st minute when sensationally Douglas was sent for an early bath after fouling Martinez and incurring his second yellow card. The Pilgrims withdrew Logan in favour of Simon Rusk to try and bolster their dwindling ranks and understandably, the United rearguard came under siege and Bastock again did well to palm away a shot from James Thomas. As the excitement levels looked set to develop still further, the Pilgrims managed to work the ball up to the Swansea end as three minutes of stoppage time began and successfully wind down the clock to net a valuable share of the spoils.
United team: (4-4-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Hocking, 3. Balmer, 4. Ellender, 5. Chapman, 6. Costello, 7. Bennett, 8. Redfearn, 9. S Weatherstone, 10. Logan (Rusk 83), 11. Douglas. Subs (not used): Duffield, Angel, Town, Price (gk).