Northwich Victoria 3-1 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Boston United's quest for a positive run in the FA Trophy crumpled at the first hurdle. Arguably the key talking point behind Saturday's defeat was a 52nd minute penalty appeal by United overruled by referee Andrew Green when Daryl Clare appeared to be fouled. At the time, the Pilgrims were chasing an equaliser. But immediately Northwich broke clear, doubled their lead and effectively put the tie beyond reach. Boston boss Steve Evans said: "Daryl was scythed down, but the referee booked him. And I think it was a big decision which turned the tie." In the tie's opening exchanges, both sides had half-chances for an early breakthrough. For United, Jamie Cook saw a header from distance held by keeper Paul Gibson while in response forceful running by striker Gregg Blundell forced Ross Weatherstone and then Paul Bastock into hurried clearances. The home side, though, drew first blood on 17 minutes when Mark DEVLIN fired home from 10 yards. Boston tried to hit back quickly, but Elding's shot lacked power after being set free by Clare. Towards half-time, United almost grabbed an equaliser when, from a long clearance by Bastock, Peter Costello saw a shot skim inches wide of the far post.
In between these moments of ascendancy, Boston also had to rely on Bastock's agility to keep them in the hunt. In a bid to trigger a revival, Evans threw on substitutes Mark Angel and Andy Lodge at the start of the second half. But it was Northwich who almost netted next when Devlin crossed and Blundell saw a header booted off the line by Simon Rusk. At the other end, Clare saw a drive smothered by Gibson. And then came the penalty appeal flashpoint when the United striker went down under a challenge from Denny Ingram. A yellow card was hoisted by the referee for an alleged diving offence, and then straight away Boston's deficit became 2-0 when Craig Skinner crossed from the right for QUINN to head home. Boston threw caution to the wind at this point. First CLARE saw a shot saved by Gibson. But then on 57 minutes, the same player reduced the arrears when tapping in after the home keeper parried an Elding drive. Close calls from foraging full-backs Mark Clifford and Lodge almost produced an equaliser. But the Vics made sure of progress when Blundell broke clear to supply a pass for QUINN to drill home.
Boston team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Gould, 4. R Weatherstone, 5. Scott, 6. Ellender, 7. Rusk (Town 87), 8. Elding, 9. Clare, 10. Costello (Lodge 46), 11. Cook (Angel 46). Subs (not used): Monington, Newton (gk).
This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.