Pilgrims 0-0 Carlisle United
by Barbara Singleton
The relegation zone in the Third Division shows now sign of getting any less congested for the half-a-dozen or so sides toiling to escape being sucked through the trapdoor. And Boston United had reason to curse some wretched luck in front of goal as fellow strugglers Carlisle clung on to a share of the spoils which arguably pleased them more than it did the York Street connections. On at least six occasions, Neil Thompson's men came within a whisker of breaking down a stubborn and generally unadventurous Cumbrian side. But in the end, it was an afternoon of frustration, although one point against neighbours in the basement area wasn't the end of the world. Thompson said: "Obviously it was disappointing not to get the right final outcome. But we certainly had enough chances overall to have won. But at least we maintained the level of consistency we have been able to achieve over the past three months. We are certainly looking a solid unit. What we need to do now is just string together as many points as we can as quickly as possible." Against Carlisle, the Pilgrims started brightly enough with Stuart Balmer heading just wide from a cross by Simon Weatherstone - a move which followed a partially-cleared corner by the latter. Before the game had hit its quarter-hour mark, Boston saw two further opportunities pass by. First Mark Angel exchanged passes with Stuart Douglas before shooting wide and then Richard Logan lost his balance when sliding in to try and connect with an Angel centre and visiting keeper Matt Glennon was able to drop on the ball close to his line. Carlisle's responses were somewhat limited as they persisted with a resolute 4-5-1 formation. However, midway through the half, shots from distance by Stuart Green and Mark Hudson zipped wide of the target as Paul Bastock's goal briefly came under threat.
Boston were repeatedly finding trouble in piercing the visitors' back line well marshalled by Paul Raven and Darren Kelly. But in the 34th minute Douglas came close when glancing wide another Weatherstone cross. At the start of the second half, Logan was substituted due to a knee injury. His replacement, Peter Duffield, saw a 47th minute shot cannon back off a post following Balmer's deep free-kick. At the other end, Hudson was next to test Bastock but the United custodian was more than equal to the effort. In reply midfielder Neil Redfearn then saw a 20-yarder deflect wide off Murphy. The subsequent corner eventually led to Redfearn whistling another 20-yard effort inches wide of Glennon's post. Apart from Green dragging a shot well wide across the face of the Boston goal, Carlisle spent most of their time on the defensive as the Pilgrims continued to dominate. And Weatherstone's dipping volley went wide after Redfearn had played the ball over the top of the Carlisle defence. Next, Duffield had a shot blocked by the head of Raven and then as the ball pinged about in the box, nobody could connect with the loose ball. Moments later, Angel saw a low drive held by Glennon before the United winger was guilty of a bad miss when he lashed over from eight yards after Weatherstone's cross had eluded the Cumbrians' defence. Boston had further chances when Paul Ellender fired over from 14 yards from Redfearn's pass, Douglas saw a low shot parried by Glennon and then Redfearn's fierce 20-yarder was swallowed up by the grateful goalkeeper. Carlisle offered little in the way of real chances in reply although Bastock was forced to make a good save to deny a curling effort from sub Richie Foran in the 72nd minute. Back at the other end, Douglas had a further chance when he met Weatherstone's centre. But he nodded wide of the target and Boston's last meaningful chance was gone.
United team: (4-4-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Hocking, 3. Ellender, 4. Balmer, 5. Chapman, 6. S Weatherstone, 7. Bennett, 8. Redfearn, 9. Angel, 10. Logan (Duffield 46), 11. Douglas. Subs: Greaves, Costello, Town, Price (gk).