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Cheltenham Town 1-0 Pilgrims

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

The first match under the reign of club owner Jon Sotnick ended in defeat for Boston United. And the result saw the Pilgrims worryingly slip to within one point of the relegation zone in the Third Division table. It wasn’t for the lack of trying that the Pilgrims failed for the 11th time on their travels this season. But again, the lack of a clinical touch in the final third of the pitch proved their downfall as the home side prised out maximum spoils on the strength of John Brough’s 62nd minute header. The match, though, had seen United go close right from the first whistle with Adam Boyd almost sparking a wonder-start. However, the chance was missed - as was the first of many opportunities for Neil Redfearn when he shot wide in the seventh minute. The home side responded with a phase of pressure of their own, notably with Grant McCann being at the heart of most of their best work. But United keeper Paul Bastock was not unduly troubled in the first 20 minutes. But “Bazza” had to be alert on 21 minutes when he clutched a deflected 20-yard free-kick from McCann - a save which followed shortly after Redfearn had seen another fierce drive just miss its intended target. As the half wore on Boston came under more pressure. First Bastock and then Balmer had to intervene to thwart Brough and then shots from McCann and John Finnigan flashed wide of the Boston goal. Then on 35 minutes Jamie Victory got the ball into the United goal from a McCann corner only to see the effort ruled out for a pushing offence.

Boston responded with another attacking flurry and twice just before the break they went close to breaking the deadlock. First Adam Boyd was tripped and Redfearn’s free-kick from the edge of the “D” flew too high and then Boyd headed over from a Mark Angel curling free-kick from the right. Boston started the second half on the offensive again with Redfearn and Graeme Jones both going close. Then Lee Thompson fed Boyd whose shot under pressure was deflected for a corner. And next Redfearn’s firmly-driven flag-kick was pushed away by keeper Shane Higgs. Cheltenham hit back with McCann testing Bastock and then Balmer having to intercept well to prevent substitute Kayode Odejayi getting in an effort. But Boston were unable to prevent BROUGH getting on the end of a telling cross from Martin Devaney to head home what proved the 62nd minute match winner. Rookie management duo Jim Rodwell and Paul Raynor opted to ring the changes with the introduction at various intervals of Ben Chapman, Peter Duffield and Stuart Douglas. But the substitutions failed to inspire the Pilgrims to an equaliser - although another Redfearn free-kick pile-driver was blocked and then yet another shot from the veteran midfielder flew wide after being set up by Jones in stoppage time. Before those replies, though, Boston had been lucky to keep the deficit to one goal, notably when Odejayi shot wildly off-target in the 77th minute and when other efforts from Finnigan and Devaney drifted away from goal inside the final 10 minutes.

United team (3-5-2): Balmer, Ellender, Beevers; Thompson, Bennett (Douglas 84), Greaves, Redfearn, Angel (Chapman 65), Boyd (Duffield 76). Subs (not used): Hogg, Croudson (gk).

Match report copyright © Barbara Singleton, 2004.