Exeter City 0-2 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Goals moments from the end of each half fired Boston United to three vital Third Division points - and hoisted the Pilgrims to their highest-ever position in the football ladder. Victory away to fellow basement area dwellers Exeter was secured thanks to decisive strikes from Neil Redfearn and Stuart Douglas. The win elevated Neil Thompson's side up to 18th in the table and helped to avenge an earlier 3-0 defeat sustained against the Grecians at York Street. Reflecting on United's triumph at St James' Park, Thompson said: "It was perhaps a nervy and scrappy game, but I felt we deserved the three points. It would have been nice if we had taken one or two chances to make things safe well before we got our second. But the end result was terrific." Boston had opened positively with Redfearn seeing an early free-kick flash inches too high. Exeter answered with Justin Walker's 14th minute free-kick being blocked. However, within seconds the Pilgrims attacked again with Stuart Balmer and Ben Chapman combining to free Simon Weatherstone whose cross was headed away by Adrian Whitbread as Richard Logan found himself in a prime position to open the scoring. A further untaken chance fell to Logan after Miller's poor clearance went straight to the United hit-man although he dallied too long and allowed Brazilian defender Santos Gaia to get in a last-ditch tackle to deny his shot. For Exeter, Sean Devine's opportunist 29th minute strike from Miller's long clearance drifted over the bar as Bastock back-pedalled. The Pilgrims' keeper then did well to drop on Devine's shot after he had turned to connect with Don Goodman's low cross. Bastock made another great save in the 39th minute, to keep out Walker's fierce shot and he saw the subsequent rebound deflected over the bar. Boston took advantage of this escape and took the lead in the 44th minute.
REDFEARN fired home a spectacular 30-yard lob over Miller and into the net after seizing possession following the home keeper's nervy, headed clearance from the edge of his own box. Goodman then tried to replicate something similar at the other end in stoppage time but saw his effort sail well over. At the beginning of the second half, Devine's shot-on-the-turn was held by Bastock as Exeter sought a quick equaliser. But Boston responded with James Gould seeing a shot gathered by Miller after Logan's knock-down. The same player was denied again by Miller in the 62nd minute after he had cut in from the right to meet Peter Duffield's low centre. A minute later, Weatherstone's persistence saw him beat three defenders before firing just wide of Miller's post. Boston then received a let-off when Devine beat the offside trap but fired inches wide of Bastock's far post. The Pilgrims had an excellent chance to sew up the game in the 80th minute as Weatherstone went clean through after springing the offside trap. However, he glaringly fired wide with only Miller to beat - in much the same fashion as he had failed to capitalise fully a fortnight earlier at Bournemouth when United sought to increase a 1-0 advantage. Within a minute Boston were grateful to Bastock as he made a great save when he dived at the feet of Devine to claim the ball after the Grecians' striker had got past the United back line. Another United chance then fell Duffield's way but he was unlucky not to find the net when he saw a low shot come back off the post after Miller had parried Douglas' effort. However, the three points were eventually secured in the second minute of injury time when DOUGLAS raced onto long Ben Chapman headed clearance to coolly fire past Miller and send the visiting fans into rapturous celebrations. Then right at the death, Tom Bennett almost made it 3-0 but was denied by Miller after getting on the end of Weatherstone's low pass.
United team: (4-4-2): 1. Bastock, 2. McCarthy, 3. Hocking, 4. Balmer, 5. Chapman, 6. S Weatherstone, 7. Bennett, 8. Redfearn (Ellender 83), 9. Gould, 10. Logan (Douglas 72), 11. Duffield (George 90). Subs (not used): Town, Conroy (gk).