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Pilgrims 4-2 Havant and Waterloovile

Dr Martens League

by Barbara Singleton

Anyone who likes their football raw, physical, fractious and ill-tempered would have been in dreamland watching this York Street encounter. Boston United, giving league debuts to three new signings, chalked up their 19th Dr Martens Premier Division win of the season to maintain their 11-point lead at the top of the table. The Pilgrims' success was down to a mixture of spirit, character and determination against a forceful opposition who belied their mid-table position. Long spells of the game were far from pretty. Havant had plenty of physical power in their locker and were never afraid to play to their strength when needed. Out breaks of ill-tempered scuffles erupted on several occasions, to further heighten the afternoon's tension - including one huge fracas on the stroke of half-time involving both sets of players and members of both benches. United manager Steve Evans said: "It was crucial that we got the win. Certain things occurred both on and off the field that I feel do not have a part in football. But we rose above all that and despite going behind twice, our character and resolve finally won the day and saw us through fairly comfortably." Boston fielded Adie Hayes, a £4,000 signing from Diss Town, and gave Shaun Keeble, newly signed from King's Lynn, a starting place in attack. Evans also included midfielder Paul Raynor - recruited from Ilkeston just hours before kick-off on the bench. But the Pilgrims' new-look line-up suffered a setback in the second minute when Havant's prolific marksman James Taylor smashed his 31st goal of the season - netting with a low 18-yard shot after Colin Hoyle and David Rennie had failed to clear a curling free-kick by Gary McDonald.

Briefly, United looked a touch shaky, but in the 14th minute they drew level when Peter Costello squeezed a penalty beyond the reach of keeper Salvatore Bibbo after Andrew Stanhope had been chopped down by Simon Elley. United fell behind again in the 45th minute when McDonald rifled high into the net after Taylor had got a headed flick to a cross from David Milkins. But recovery was instant with Keeble bundling in a close range stoppage time equaliser after a Hayes shot had eluded the clutches of Bibbo. Costello put Boston ahead for the first time on 57 minutes sending a low 18-yarder through a crowd of players after Liam Daish had only half cleared a cross from Stanhope. And victory was clinched on 83 minutes when Keeble hit the target again, this time converting a near post cross from Costello. Elsewhere in the game, the first half saw Boston go close with a Keeble overhead kick and two near misses from the head and boot of Stanhope. After the break Bibbo denied Keeble, Hayes, Power and Stanhope. And further efforts from the ever alert Keeble and Costello just missed the target. In response, Havant also had some bright moments, notably with Nicky Wyatt (twice), Taylor and Tim Hambley all missing out. The latter blotted his copy book on 87 minutes when he was sent off for two yellow card offences in 30 seconds - feigning injury and then dissent.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Paul Wilson, 4. Colin Hoyle, 5. Peter Costello, 6. David Rennie, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Steve Charles, 9. Mickey Nuttell, 10. Shaun Keeble, 11. Adie Hayes, 12. Lee Power, 14. Paul Raynor, 15. Andy Lodge.

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.