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Macclesfield Town 2-0 Pilgrims

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

An improved overall display, but one that still yielded a couple of costly defensive lapses. That was perhaps the best summary of Boston United's latest outing in the Third Division. Opponents Macclesfield cashed in on two moments of Pilgrims' back line uncertainty to prise maximum points from a match which was otherwise evenly contested. Confidence-wise the result will have done little to lift spirits in the Boston camp. But hopefully future progress can be charted if the positive aspects from United's performance can be harnessed alongside what will hopefully be more consistent harmony in the York Street camp. With the Daryl Clare issue now seemingly on the back burner and the arrival of tenacious midfielder Lee Thompson, United could at least have the basis of a platform on which to build. But that regular failing of keeping the opposition at bay in the opening half still needs rectifying. An almost instant reminder unfolded at Moss Rose on Saturday when Macclesfield plundered a sixth minute lead when Danny WHITAKER swept the ball home from a neat move down the left instigated by Andy Welsh, on loan from Second Division Stockport. Prior to that breakthrough, Boston had gone close with a drive by Neil Redfearn. But in response, Macclesfield also went close through an off-target shot from Matthew Tipton. Boston looked to respond and Thompson's burst through the middle almost played in Peter Costello. Back at the other end, Bastock made a fine save to deny Whitaker after the home midfielder had connected with Welsh's centre. In reply once more, Redfearn's header dropped wide after Thompson and the Clare had exchanged passes down the right to create the opening. Macclesfield went close again in the 35th minute, after referee Prosser moved a free-kick on 10 yards for dissent. Whitaker's kick was well blocked by Redfearn and then the same player forced a good save from Bastock.

Welsh almost doubled the lead on 41 minutes but saw his effort clip the top of the bar. Redfearn, arguably Boston's best player in the first half with plenty of skill and determination, then saw a low shot gathered by Wilson. In first half stoppage time, Bastock pulled off a great one-handed save to deny Kyle Lightbourne's free-kick as the Silkmen looked to increase their advantage. After the interval, Boston enjoyed greater territorial play. Redfearn's 48th minute free-kick was superbly beaten away by Wilson, then the legs of Paul O'Neill blocked Gould's low drive from just inside the box. Greaves almost equalised for Boston on 71 minutes when his header from Weatherstone's corner seemed destined for the top corner. But somehow Whitaker was there to head off the line from under the crossbar. United had a let off a minute later when Bastock fumbled Tipton's effort wide. However, their luck was to be short-lived as WELSH bundled his side further ahead after Whitaker's corner had only been partially cleared in the 73rd minute. Bastock thwarted another effort from Whitaker on 83 minutes after the Silkmen midfielder had capitalised on United pushing men forward to race clean through. Boston almost pulled a goal back in the first minute of stoppage time when Weatherstone saw his effort fly off O'Neill but with Wilson beaten, it deflected inches wide of the post. Reflecting on the match, United acting manager Neil Thompson said: "Again, we were punished for two moments of defensive weakness. It is perhaps that people make mistakes when a degree of confidence isn't there. But we have just got to keep trying to be positive. The players have got to have faith in themselves and believe that we can turn things around very quickly. Quite simply, we just have to learn that we need to be much stronger mentally."

United team: (3-5-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Hocking, 3. Greaves, 4. Warburton, 5. Costello (Clifford 87), 6. Bennett, 7. Redfearn (Elding 75), 8. L Thompson (Cook 75), 9. Gould, 10. Clare, 11. S Weatherstone. Subs (not used): N Thompson, Conroy (gk).