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Bristol Rovers 2-0 Pilgrims

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

Boston United’s poor away form showed no sign of improvement with a below-par second half performance contributing to their demise at Bristol. The Pilgrims’ fall-off in performance level proved costly as Rovers grabbed two goals from set-pieces inside the final quarter. The result was Boston’s third away loss in the league so far this term. And once again, the well-documented goals drought from the strike force - this time with loanee Andy White making his debut - showed no real sign of being ended. However, the first half produced some positive moments. But the old tale of failing to capitalise on chances proved a millstone once more. The opening period had, in fact, seen the Pilgrims start with something of a flourish and a couple of untaken chances materialised as the result of some tidy play. One came when Paul Ellender ventured up from midfield and executed a fine shot on the turn following a Lee Beevers throw. But the ball flashed over the bar. Then a Graham Potter free-kick was well held by home keeper Miller. Next Ellender tried to thread a pass through for Stuart Douglas but the home rearguard just managed to nip danger in the bud. Little was seen of the home attack in the opening 15 minutes, but then the rovers upped the tempo and enjoyed a purple patch of ascendancy with a handful of corners forced in a few minutes. However, Boston, well-marshalled at the back by Stuart Balmer and Beevers in particular held firm. The only real worry for Paul Bastock during this period was an 18th minute long range drive from Savage which the united keeper did well to hold. But Boston responded again with some controlled football and some purposeful attacking moves. The only frustration was that none of the chances created were converted. In the 32nd minute Weatherstone saw a fierce drive well saved by Miller and from the resultant corner, taken by Potter, Ellender saw a header drift too high. Moments later Miller was again called into action when saving well to thwart a header from Potter following a cross from the right by Rusk. Rovers hit back briefly with another drive from Savage which Bastock gathered well.

Then in response debutant White fed Stuart Douglas who in turn set up Weatherstone but his effort fly off target. Just before the break Boston missed the clearest opportunity of the half when Potter cashed in on home uncertainty on the half-way line and burst clear. But he lacked the vital control when in a straight confrontation with Miller and the opportunity was lost. The second half was a different tale, though. Boston were not the same force and allowed Rovers more time on the ball and didn’t look as composed in their own territory. And apart from one close call from a Beevers header following a Weatherstone free-kick, the Pilgrims had little to offer in attack with the service to White and Douglas being much less productive than in the first 45 minutes. As Bristol lifted their own forward momentum, Boston were forced to back-pedal and both Weatherstone and Ellender had to make good blocking tackles to keep the scores level. Rovers went close to breaking through in the 59th minute when from a scuffed free-kick by Lee Hodges, the ball was only partially cleared to Agogo and his follow-up effort was blocked by Bastock’s outstretched leg. United fell behind from a 67th minute free-kick taken by substitute Wayne Carlisle with the ball being delivered into the danger area where Paul TAIT got the decisive scoring touch. From that point, it was always going to be an uphill task as Bristol strove hard to put the issue beyond doubt. Graham Hyde drove just wide from distance and Tait almost wriggled through on another occasion. There was a brief reply in the guise of a blocked shot from Ellender after Rusk and Douglas had created a partial opening. But generally it was Rovers in command. And in the 79th minute Agogo caused danger in the visitors’ area before Ben Chapman intercepted at the cost of a corner. But the let-off was only momentary as Carlisle’s flag-kick was headed on by Tait and AGOGO forced the ball home with Chapman and Greaves colliding in the goalmouth melee, forcing the former to leave the field through a head injury. After that there was no way back for Boston who once again suffered from a second half lack of ideas and creativity.

United team (3-5-2): Bastock; Greaves, Balmer, Beevers; Rusk, Ellender, Weatherstone, Potter (Redfearn 78), Chapman (L Thompson 81); White, Douglas (Duffield 84). Subs (not used): Logan, Croudson (gk).

Match report copyright © Barbara Singleton, 2003.