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Northampton Town 2-0 Pilgrims

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

Two woeful moments of defensive work in the final 18 minutes cost Boston United the chance of pocketing some sort of reward from their trip to Northampton. Goalkeeper Paul Bastock and full-back Lee Beevers were the guilty parties as errors of judgement gifted the home side the decisive strikes which sentenced the Pilgrims to another oh so familiar away-day defeat. And in tandem with other results, this result saw Boston’s relegation anxieties heightened substantially. It was a hugely disappointing outcome to an afternoon which, for 70 minutes, had looked like producing at least a share of the spoils for Boston. The first half was something of a mix of good passing football and a few decent chances - but also some phases of quieter play and occasions when possession was given away too freely for the liking of both camps. Boston started brightly and forced an early corner but it was the Cobblers who offered the first genuine threat through Eric Sabin - recruited by Northampton ironically from the Pilgrims via parent club QPR recalling him from a brief loan spell at York Street. He got into space down the right but drilled a shot against Paul Bastock’s legs. Boston managed to put up some good defensive resistance and gave the home side little chance to flourish until the 16th minute when a Martin Reeves free-kick forced Bastock into a tidy clutching save. In reply, Boston’s first real effort came on 19 minutes when David Noble and Jermaine Brown linked well and from the latter’s cross Graeme Jones, under a Chris Willmott challenge, screwed a 12-yard shot wide. Back at the other end Rob Ullathorne got in a good overlapping cross from which Martin Smith shot wide. In reply Lee Thompson burst into the home area but his close control let him down and the chance was lost. Northampton hit back and twice within a few moments Magno Vieira twice saw efforts fly straight at Bastock.

Then in the 32nd minute Boston failed to fully clear a Smith free-kick and Ullathorne headed goalwards only for the ball to bounce away off the top of the bar. Then Ullathorne got in a good cross but Sabin sliced wildly wide. As the half progressed, Boston became a more prominent force in proceedings with a Thompson cross-shot being gathered by home keeper Lee Harper and then from another Thompson centre Jones saw a header booted away from close to the home line by Luke Chambers. Then just before the break Brown burst forward before shooting at Harper. The second half was six minutes old before the first chance arrived and it fell to Boston with Brown and Noble linking well before the latter’s shot flashed inches too high. Moments later Jones tumbled under the dual challenge of Willmott and Sampson but United penalty claims were waved aside. Boston pressed again in the 62nd minute and won a free-kick, but Noble fired a drive straight at Harper. Northampton hit back and went close when Tom Bennett lost possession in midfield and paved the way for Sabin to embark on a surging run. But he fired wide under a challenge by Ben Chapman. This duo then went into referee Andre Marriner’s notebook for separate fouls on each other in quick succession - these flashpoints being the forerunner to the Cobblers taking the lead on 72 minutes when a speculative long range drive from Steve MORISON somehow squirmed under the diving frame of Bastock when a comfortable save seemed likely. From that point Boston heads dropped and despite the double introduction of Mark Angel and Stuart Douglas there was little attacking initiative from the Pilgrims. And five minutes from time their fate was sealed when Beevers tried to chest a Sabin cross back to Bastock but succeeded only in setting up Ian SAMPSON to put the issue beyond doubt.

United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Beevers, Balmer, Greaves, Chapman; Thompson, Bennett, Ellender, Noble (Angel 76); Brown (Douglas 77), Jones. Subs (not used): Croudson (gk), Hocking, Hogg.

Match report copyright © Barbara Singleton, 2004.