Scunthorpe United 2-0 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
It was a day when nothing went right again for Boston United - a third successive defeat, three straight matches without a goal, defender Mark Greaves sent off plus two moments of refereeing controversy. And with fellow strugglers Swansea and Carlisle winning, the result at Glanford Park fuelled a sense of depression amid the ranks of Pilgrims' followers with United fortunes taking a sizeable dip after the highs of October. The match was notable in particular for referee Paul Danson awarding a dubious first-half penalty for the hosts and then in the second half, in conjunction with one of his assistants, allowed a second Scunthorpe goal to stand - although it appeared unclear whether the ball had actually crossed the line. Contentious decisions aside, it was a somewhat scrappy match which either side could have won, although Scunthorpe admittedly seemed to have the sharper cutting edge. Early on, Boston had a let-off when the returning Paul Ellender failed to clear a centre against his former club and Wayne Graves saw a shot blocked by Tom Bennett. Next, Paul Bastock saved a low shot from Graves on 10 minutes, after Tony Battersby had given away possession on the half-way line. Scunthorpe went ahead on 15 minutes when Peter BEAGRIE fired home from the penalty spot, despite Bastock getting a hand to the effort which had followed an apparent tugging offence by Ellender. The Iron looked to build on their lead and Beagrie fired a 21st minute shot just wide after cutting in from the left-hand side. Boston's first shot on goal arrived on 34 minutes when Lee Thompson's 20-yard effort went wide after he latched onto Battersby's knockdown from Bastock's clearance. Boston were unlucky not to equalise in the 40th minute when Alex Higgins saw a header come back off a post after Ellender had nodded a Simon Weatherstone free-kick back across goal.
At the start of the second half, Thompson went charging through on goal but despite appearing to be upended by Stuart Balmer, referee Danson waved play on. Weatherstone then tested Tommy Evans with a dipping shot and back at the other end, Carruthers somehow managed to head wide from Torpey's centre. Moments later, Weatherstone fired a 20-yard effort wide from Battersby's cross from the right. Boston fell further behind in controversial circumstances on 67 minutes when TORPEY claimed a headed goal, although Bastock appeared to grab the ball before it crossed the line. The assistant referee did not immediately flag for a goal, but as the Boston keeper restarted the match with a kick downfield, the assistant (who appeared to have his view obscured) belatedly signalled. After a consultation between Danson and his colleague, the goal was given, much to the frustration of the Boston contingent who felt the header had not crossed the line in the first instance and were annoyed by the time it took the officials to reach their decision. Within three minutes of the goal, Boston's misery was compounded when Greaves was dismissed after receiving his second booking for a foul on Beagrie. For a while from that point, Boston played with renewed vigour - clearly triggered by the sense of injustice which had been dealt to them. Weatherstone, Bennett and Angel all went close to reducing the deficit, but without success. Understandably with the Pilgrims down to 10 men and chasing the game, the home side were able to exploit some gaps. Torpey went close to adding a third but twice missed glaring opportunities. In response, Battersby set Angel through and his shot was sensationally tipped away by Evans. Then, Battersby's downward header from Weatherstone's free-kick went agonisingly wide of Evans' right-hand post as Boston's frustrations rolled through to the final whistle.
United team: (4-4-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Hocking, 3. Ellender, 4. Greaves, 5. Chapman, 6. L Thompson (Rusk 71), 7. Higgins (Angel 64), 8. Bennett, 9. S Weatherstone, 10. Battersby, 11. Douglas. Subs (not used): Elding, R Weatherstone, Conroy (gk).