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Stevenage Borough 1-2 Pilgrims

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

Herculean efforts in the face of adversity paid off admirably for Boston United as they kept the Conference title chase firmly in the melting pot. The Pilgrims, shorn of three imposing central defensive players, had to muster all their inner resolve and determination for a tough encounter in Hertfordshire. But a heroic team effort brought its reward with United sentencing Stevenage to only their second home league reverse of the season. And besides triumphing over the odds, the victory was also a success for manager Steve Evans' bravery in putting out an experimental back line in which 38-year-old former Scarborough boss Neil Thompson made his Boston debut alongside 19-year-old Antony Elding - more familiar in a strike role - plus Walsall loanee Dion Scott. Evans said: "We knew we had players injured and suspended and that the right players were not available for us to bring in. So, this formation was something we had worked on in training. I knew I would have been in for some severe criticism if it had gone wrong. But it worked well and full credit goes to the players who responded magnificently." By virtue of their eighth win in 10 away league matches in tandem with Dagenham and Redbridge only managing a 1-1 home draw against Northwich, the Pilgrims today sit just one point off top spot. Their heroics at Stevenage were evident right from the start when the home side exerted some pressure with a Matt Fisher header being held by Paul Bastock who, later on, did well to tip over an 18-yard drive by D. J. Campbell.

In reply for Boston, James Gould fired wide from long range, a fate which also befell a shot by Simon Weatherstone on 18 minutes. United almost broke the deadlock on 29 minutes when a stunningly forceful 20-yard free-kick by Thompson cannoned away off the underside of the Stevenage bar. Moments later the Pilgrims had a goal ruled out for a foul as David Town's shot hit the net. Borough replied with Martin Williams firing a shot inches past a post. But it was Boston who finished the half on top. Home keeper Dean Greygoose did well to hold a Mark Clifford cross-shot and then, on 44 minutes, got down well at the foot of a post to palm away another exocet free-kick by Thompson. After the break, both sides went close to breaking the deadlock with Greygoose clutching a shot from Weatherstone and then Darran Hay heading wide at the other end. On the hour, Stevenage's Campbell almost put his team ahead, but Bastock made an excellent one-handed save. In the 74th minute, Boston created the movement which saw them go ahead. On a swift counter-attack, Weatherstone set Daryl Clare free. His shot was tipped out for a corner by Greygoose. From Weatherstone's flag-kick, the ball was only partially cleared and CLARE volleyed home. Stevenage, though, drew level on 81 minutes when FISHER got a boot to a half-chance. But Boston replied again and four minutes from time TOWN hammered a powerful winner past Greygoose.

Boston team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Gould, 4. Elding, 5. Scott, 6. Thompson, 7. Rusk, 8. Town (Angel 87), 9. Clare (Cook 90), 10. S. Weatherstone, 11. Brown (Lodge 90). Subs (not used): Murphy, Conroy (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.