Atherstone United 1-1 Pilgrims
Dr Martens League
by Barbara Singleton
Two points lost rather than one gained. That was manager Steve Evansí view of Boston United's latest result on the road along the Dr Martens League championship trail. The Pilgrims boss was far from happy with his team's share of the spoils against opponents currently battling hard to climb out of the Premier Division's bottom four. Boston opened up with a commanding display and were good value for their 16th minute lead given to them by the impressive Andrew Stanhope. However, one momentary lapse in defence on 32 minutes presented Atherstone with their first chance of the game - and the home side duly capitalised via the boot of Marvin Blake. And Evans was unhappy. He said: "For the first 25 minutes we were brilliant. Once we had gone ahead, we looked bright and busy in and around their box. But then Joby Gowshall had a few seconds of madness when not picking up his player from a throw-in and we were ultimately punished from the cross which came in. I do not normally have a go at individuals publicly and generally prefer to protect and stand by my players. But sometimes, things have to be said. Joby knows what happened, but couldn't explain why. People have to realise that 100 per cent concentration is needed at all times. The sooner our players realise that matches are played over 90 minutes and not 25, the better it will be all round. And after half-an-hour locked in the dressing room after the game, I left that view with them in no uncertain terms." However, the Pilgrims had set about their afternoon's business positively with Kevin Noteman on the left flank creating plenty of danger with his forceful running, tidy control and excellent distribution.
Early on, a Noteman cross was cut out by keeper Andrew Higgs, a curling free-kick by Paul Wilson drifted wide and a Mickey Nuttell header flashed just inches over the bar. A goal looked inevitable - and it arrived on 16 minutes when Noteman initially saw a centre blocked and fed back to him by Nuttell. The winger then fired over a low drive which STANHOPE converted with a sliding far post finish. Boston forced further close calls which ended with shots from Noteman and Childs. It wasn't until the half-hour mark that United keeper Paul Bastock was called into action, easily dealing with a Leon Kelly header. But two minutes later the home side were level. Danny Martin escaped the attentions of Gowshall and crossed for Kelly to bring a stunning parried save from Bastock. But the ball broke only as far as BLAKE who netted with a bobbling shot from eight yards. In the second half, Peter Costello was denied by a good save in a one-on-one confrontation with keeper Higgs while Lee Power fired too high on 55 minutes. And in the 88th minute a close-range shot from Nuttell was deflected over the bar at a time when United had withdrawn full-back Wilson in favour of David Norris as they sought a late winner. But by and large, United failed to sparkle. And had it not been for some solid defensive organisation from David Rennie and Colin Hoyle, the single-point reward might have been wiped out completely. Best openings for Atherstone saw Lee Middleton fire over with a long-range free-kick, a Blake centre being deflected for a corner, a Luke Vincent drive drift just wide, and - in the dying seconds - an unmarked Richard Lavery head just over.
United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Paul Wilson, 4. Colin Hoyle, 5. Peter Costello, 6. David Rennie, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Gary Childs, 9. Mickey Nuttell, 10. Lee Power, 11. Kevin Noteman, 12. David Norris, 14. Anthony Elding, 15. Steve Charles.
This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.