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Pilgrims 0-0 Stevenage Borough

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

One point is always better than none and this erratically-earned share of the spoils was good enough to keep Boston United still at the head of Conference affairs. But now the title race pressure is likely to hit new heights as the Pilgrims and chief championship rivals Dagenham and Redbridge effectively go neck-and-neck into the final five games of their respective seasons. Last night, while Boston toiled in vain to prise a way through a well-organised Stevenage rearguard, the Daggers just got the better of relegation haunted Stalybridge in a 2-1 success at Victoria Road. The two results left the promotion protagonists locked together on 74 points from equal matches played. But United's superior goal difference kept them in charge at the top. However, the intensity of the two clubs' remaining fixture programmes will make for an intriguing run-in. After watching his team struggle to find any genuine cohesive pattern, United boss Steve Evans said: "We didn't really get going for the first 60 minutes. And I think it has to be down to nerves because too many good players looked to be finding it hard. But in the second half we had a few chances and one of them - Mickey Brown's close range header - certainly looked to have been over the line. But the linesman missed it.

We have just got to pick ourselves up from the disappointment of dropping two points against Stevenage and prepare for five more terrifically important games." Last night, it was the visitors - fielding a completely different starting XI to the one which won their FA Trophy semi-final first leg at Morecambe - who showed their strength in depth with some purposeful early poise. In the opening phases, the tricky Paul Armstrong dragged a shot wide after being set up by Jack Midson. Then, the same player tested Paul Bastock with a low 20-yard drive. And finally Steve Wormull drilled wide. Boston's responses were nervy and tentative with only tame headers from Gez Murphy and Ray Warburton giving Borough goalie Dean Greygoose anything resembling an anxious moment. Stevenage hit back as the interval approached and a period of sustained pressure almost culminated in a 43rd minute lead. But a curling 20-yard free-kick by Paul Sturgess was superbly held by Bastock. Boston's brightest piece of play came in the 53rd minute when Jamie Cook and Mark Angel linked down the right with the latter's cross being met by Simon Rusk. But his snap-shot was beaten away by Greygoose.

Boston team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Gould (S Weatherstone 82), 4. Ellender, 5. Warburton (Costello 62), 6. Rodwell, 7. Brown, 8. Murphy (Cook 38), 9. Clare, 10. Rusk, 11. Angel. Unused subs: Tarrant, Conroy (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.