Pilgrims 1-2 Bristol City
LDV Vans Trophy
by Barbara Singleton
Yet another hugely contentious refereeing decision haunted Boston United and proved a contributory factor in their exit from the LDV Vans Trophy. This second round tie had ticked into its 112th minute when the man in the middle, Alan Butler, awarded the visitors a corner when most players and observers expected nothing more mundane than a goal-kick. However, Bristol seized their opportunity and Brian Tinnion's flag-kick was firmly met by young defender Danny Coles whose close range header beat Paul Bastock and settled what had been a well-matched tie. It was a controversial golden goal end to a clash in which both sides had played some free-flowing football. Protests followed on after the match and United boss Neil Thompson later confirmed that Mark Angel had apparently been sent-off by the referee for continued comments about the matter in the tunnel area. Thompson, too, was unhappy about the way the match had concluded, particularly as it followed on from two hotly disputed decisions at Scunthorpe on Saturday. He said: "This is the third time in two matches we have suffered from poor decisions. It is just so disappointing that they impact on matches and affect the results." Up to that crucial moment, though, the Pilgrims had virtually matched their high-riding Second Division opponents, notably with some excellent passing football in the opening 20 minutes. United were, in fact, denied a goal after just 70 seconds when Tom Bennett's header from an Angel centre was brilliantly pushed away by Steve Phillips. Then, on five minutes, Simon Weatherstone flashed a long-range shot well wide from 20 yards. Soon afterwards, Coles headed Alex Higgins' effort off the line from Lee Thompson's centre.
Weatherstone went close again on 22 minutes when he rifled a shot just over the top after Ben Chapman and Bastock had combined to play a long through ball for the United front man to chase. But it was Bristol who broke the deadlock on 33 minutes when Scott MURRAY fired low past Bastock after outpacing Chapman to latch onto Christian Roberts' precision pass. Bastock did well to stop Roberts' low 25-yard free-kick after it squirmed under the defensive wall. As the first half drew to a close, Bastock made a fine block at the feet of Rosenior. But in reply at the other end, Boston deservedly drew level on 43 minutes when THOMPSON bundled the ball home from Angel's centre from the left. Chances were generally more at a premium in the second half, although Bennett latched onto a long pass from Angel and saw his low shot well gathered by Phillips. The same United player, though, almost got his name on the scoresheet at the other end when inadvertently diverting a header against his own bar from a Brian Tinnion free-kick. In the dying throes Thompson fired a snapshot wide of Phillips' goal while in reply, Liam Rosenior and Lee Peacock both went close for City and then, on 85 minutes Tinnion's 85th minute header was well held on the line by Bastock. City arguably had the better of the extra-time chances with Coles heading over, Peacock curling a shot wide and Bastock saving well after Murray's shot lopped up off Matt Hocking. For Boston, Thompson saw a 103th minute shot deflected wide by Butler after Battersby had crossed from the left. But a minute later it took a dramatic goalline clearance by Simon Rusk to foil Murray. However, the reprieve lasted only until the 112th minute when COLES had the ultimate say from City's dubiously-won flag-kick.
United team: (4-4-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Rusk, 3. Hocking, 4. Greaves (R Weatherstone 39), 5. Chapman, 6. L Thompson, 7. Bennett, 8. Higgins, 9. Angel; 10. S Weatherstone (Douglas 88), 11. Battersby. Subs (not used): Elding, Gould, Conroy (gk).