Leyton Orient 3-2 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
The agony rolls on for Boston United and their supporters. Defeat at Leyton Orient was another major jolt to the Pilgrims' hopes of climbing clear of the Third Division danger zone. Although none of their other rivals in the basement area managed to win, this result was one where at least a share of the spoils was seemingly tossed away. And frustratingly, the reverse was largely down to some indifferent defensive work from a United rearguard looking far from the stable unit which had done so well for countless weeks since just before Christmas. The Pilgrims had to weather an early siege from the home side which yielded a cluster of chances and, crucially, an early breakthrough for the Londoners. The goal came in only the second minute. The United defence failed to clear a dangerous ball in from Chris Tate and debutant Wayne PURSER cashed in to bundle home from six yards. Tate and Matt Lockwood came within a whisker of adding to that breakthrough as Boston continued to live dangerously. But gradually United forced their way into the reckoning. Their first effort stemmed from a Neil Redfearn free-kick and which led to Stuart Balmer seeing a fierce shot tipped away by home keeper Lee Harrison. Orient hit back with Gary Alexander seeing a shot held by Paul Bastock. Then Ciaran Toner drove just wide from 25 yards when another opportunity opened up in the 26th minute. Boston, though, hit back in decisive fashion when Paul Ellender flicked a pass through for Richard LOGAN to race clear and beat Harrison in a one-on-one confrontation on 28 minutes. Back at the other end, Tate struck a drive too high for Orient and then Purser missed out in a scramble following a Toner corner. In the 32nd minute, however, the home side regained the lead when PURSER was again on the mark to drill home after United had once more failed to clear a threatening cross. Boston again hit back and two Redfearn corners produced more pressure on the home rearguard, the latter on 41 minutes presenting a chance to Ellender.
But he sliced wildly off target from a position close to goal. Orient retained a powerful tempo at the start of the second half with Gary Alexander twice going close to increasing his side's lead. First he headed against a post with Bastock beaten and then he just missed out when a shooting opportunity arose. More feeble defending from Boston, with Ellender scuffing an attempted clearance, led to an open invitation for Tate. But the Orient front man failed to capitalise. Boston again had to weather the storm but then hit back, initially with Angel (reverting to the left after a first half on the right hand side) and Tom Bennett getting in dangerous crosses in quick succession from opposite flanks. However, in the 53rd minute, the Pilgrims got back on level terms again with REDFEARN whacking home a trademark free-kick from outside the box which left Harrison motionless. Further attacks ebbed and flowed as both sides seemed uneasy in their defensive work. Boston looked purposeful in their build-up work and two corners by Redfearn were cleared by the home rearguard. Then Angel raced onto an astute pass from Logan but saw his low drilled effort blocked at the expense of another flag-kick. Orient replied again with some forceful momentum, notably with Alexander, Tate and Purser all ensuring Stuart Balmer and Matt hocking had to keep their defensive wits about them. The Pilgrims introduced Stuart Douglas and Peter Costello in quick succession as they sought to press ahead for the first time in a topsy-turvy clash. However, the United defending was found wanting for a third time in the 79th minute when, from a Toner corner, PURSER just managed to claim the decisive flick which sent the ball into the net to complete his hat-trick. Boston almost instantly won a free-kick at the other end. Again Redfearn stepped up. But this time his kick lacked the required power and Harrison was able to cover the effort. Apart from this effort, though, Boston had the sting taken out of their play as Orient seemed determined not to surrender their advantage for a third time.
United team: (4-4-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Greaves (Costello 76), 3. Balmer (Weatherstone 85), 4. Hocking, 5. Chapman, 6. Angel, 7. Redfearn, 8. Bennett, 9. Ellender, 10. Logan, 11. Duffield (Douglas 63). Subs (not used): Gould, Price (gk).