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Pilgrims 1-0 Rushden & Diamonds

Coca Cola League

by Pete Brooksbank

A moment of genius from Danny Thomas was all that separated Boston United and Rushden and Diamonds in a woeful game at York Street last night. Thomas’ 27th minute screamer was enough to give the Pilgrims all three points, but only after a late scare when Rushden had an injury time equaliser ruled out for off-side. The game pretty much encapsulated the pressures the two clubs currently play under; Boston United struggling to establish themselves as genuine play-off contenders, while Rushden are battling to keep their head above water at the foot of the table. While Boston dominated in terms of chances, don’t be fooled into thinking this was a pretty game. United employed their familiar direct tactic of lofting long balls for Jason Lee, seeking flicks to feed Andy Kirk, who started ahead of Daryl Clare. It proved effective early on. Six minutes into the game, Lee caused panic in the Rushden box with one such flick. Chris Holland met his header but hit his shot against the post. The loose ball fell to Lee and the York Street crowd were treated to the impressive sight of an attempted bicycle kick, but the former Forest striker failed to connect. Four minutes later Rushden had another let-off. Kirk was put clean through and seemed certain to score; his lob beat Turley but went past the right hand post. Boston struggled to create attacks from midfield, with Matt O’Halloran being particularly disappointing. The only exception was Danny THOMAS, who was as lively as ever and created the only goal of the game from nothing. Collecting the ball midway in the Rushden half he responded to the crowd urging him forward and breezed into the opposition’s box. His beautiful 20 yard effort gave Turley absolutely no chance and will no doubt be a candidate for goal of the season. No doubt inspired, Thomas fired another long range effort towards goal four minutes later but Turley was alert and pushed the shot over the bar.

The only noteworthy Rushden chance was a tame Gary Mulligan effort that posed no danger to Nathan Abbey, who hardly featured in the opening period. Diamonds began the second half in a much more positive mood and pegged Boston back for the opening ten minutes. However, their pressure was being undermined by a lack of pace and presence up front and Abbey, much like the first period, was never seriously threatened, with only another Mulligan shot to show for their efforts. When Jason Lee won a free kick in a decent position on 55 minutes, Danny Thomas brushed aside Andy Kirk - who’d been eyeing up the ball - and lined up a shot for himself, leaving the Northern Ireland international to shrug in frustration at his bench. He needn’t have worried too much as Thomas unleashed yet another good long range effort that Turley did well to deal with. Then Boston missed two chances in as many minutes when Jason Lee and Andy Kirk both found themselves clear of the defence, but were caught out by the pace of the Diamonds back line. Daryl Clare replaced Andy Kirk on 73 minutes, and was looking for his first goal since re-joining from Chester. However his first contribution of note was to miss from three yards on 85 minutes when Thompson’s low drive into the box rattled around before falling to Clare. Turley made a great job of spreading himself but when the ball came again to Clare he could only scuff it past the right hand post. From then on, the match petered out until deep into injury time when Boston very nearly threw two points away. Drewe Broughton bundled the ball past Nathan Abbey and thought he’d snatched a later equaliser, only to be foiled by the offside flag. There were no serious protests, however, and Boston claimed another home win and maintain their unbeaten run at York Street.

United team: Nathan Abbey, Lee Beevers, Austin McCann, Dean West, Paul Ellender, Mark Greaves, Matt O'Halloran (Lee Thompson 62), Chris Holland, Andy Kirk (Daryl Clare 73), Jason Lee, Danny Thomas. Subs not used: Simon Rusk, Steve Melton, Courtney Pitt.

Match report copyright © Pete Brooksbank, 2004.