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Pilgrims 2-2 Doncaster Rovers

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

Last-gasp double goal hero Daryl Clare helped Boston United to preserve their Conference table-top status with a a 2-2 draw against Doncaster Rovers. The Pilgrims' goal ace was the man at the centre of a sensational finish to earn his team a share of the spoils from a seemingly hopeless position. With last night's high-profile Conference clash ticking into stoppage time, Boston trailed by a 2-0 margin. But first up popped Clare with a 90th minute tap-in. And then three minutes later he showed coolness in a spot-kick pressure-cooker when firing in to equalise. It was the sort of finale seldom seen at any level of football. But it was one of those nights which seemed to feed on the high-octane, high-adrenalin nature of the encounter. Doncaster, buoyed by the addition of £150,000 striker Justin Jackson from Rushden and Diamonds, had manoeuvred themselves into what looked an unassailable position. And victory would have taken them to the top of the tree. But when they lost the services of midfielder Jimmy Kelly, sent off for two bookable offences, Boston upped the tempo and finally managed to grab a point. The drama at the conclusion of the match was a fitting climax to what had always been an entertaining and keenly contested derby clash. Boston began speedily with Clare bringing two good saves from former Lincoln City keeper Barry Richardson inside the first 10 minutes.

In reply, Kelly fired wide for the visitors with a shot from distance. United custodian Paul Bastock did well to clutch a Matt Cauldwell 25-yard drive. But his counterpart, Richardson, was much busier - saving superbly from a Ken Charlery header in the 27th minute, tipping away a 31st minute volley by Simon Weatherstone, and then dashing out to point at point-blank range as Charlery threatened again. Jackson got his one and only sniff at goal in the 44th minute when meeting a centre from Cauldwell but he fired too high. Early in the second half Simon Marples tested Bastock while at the other end Simon Weatherstone screwed a shot wide from 10 yards. Doncaster ignited the scoring frenzy on 64 minutes when KELLY forced the ball home after a Neil Campbell header from a Marples cross had been superbly blocked by Bastock. In the 77th minute Kelly saw red for kicking the ball away, having already been cautioned. Boston rallied with agonisingly close calls for Mark Monington, Mickey Brown and Peter Costello. But then Rovers went 2-0 ahead when Gareth OWEN netted from the spot after Ross Weatherstone had upended Campbell. Boston threw on striker Gez Murphy and cut the deficit on 90 minutes when CLARE tapped in from a cross by Paul Ellender. Then, deep into stoppage time, CLARE was bundled over by Barry Miller and showed enough bottle to score from the spot despite Richardson getting a hand to his shot.

Boston team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Lodge (Murphy 90), 4. R Weatherstone, 5. Monington, 6. Ellender, 7. Costello, 8. Charlery, 9. Clare, 10. S Weatherstone, 11. Cook (Brown 70). Subs (not used): Town, Angel, Conroy (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.