Ilkeston Town 2-1 Pilgrims
Match Report by Chris Donkin
Travelling to this match in Derbyshire threw up one or two pleasant surprises. When the Boston College car-load stopped for our pre-match pint just outside Ilkeston, the locals seeing us bedecked in Amber and Black wished us "all the best" and "have a great day". Ten minutes later, lost and unable to find the ground, we pulled in to a petrol station to ask for directions. One bloke in the queue pipes up "I'm not actually going that way, but follow me and I'll take you there". So, with a feeling of renewed faith in human nature, the Boston College travelling contingent took our place on the Manor Ground terraces.
This feeling of well-being was short lived. Pretty soon tales were being relayed to us of a massive confrontation in the pub on the bridge nearest the ground. Stories of people being "glassed", bar stools being thrown and windows being broken were recounted. This nasty atmosphere seemed to have spilled over into the ground where, in the first half, Leroy was subject to racist abuse - Ilkeston fans chanting "Oooh Ooh OOh" every time he had the ball at his feet. Also the home side's forwards took every opportunity to make inflamatory gestures (clearly designed to provoke a hostile reaction) towards the Boston fans. Quite what Ilkeston's (black) manager Keith Alexander made of his "supporters" behaviour and why the Ilkseton no 10 (Moore) wasn't at least booked I really can't imagine. In the second half the nastiness persisted with Bastock seemingly hit by an object thrown from the crowd and an ugly scene at the dugout area just before full time. So ....... to the match itself.
The Pilgrims started promisingly and quickly settled into their passing game. Withe, Charles and the recalled Stanhope were showing up well in these early stages. However, from the tenth to the 35th minute the physically stronger Derbyshire side dominated the game.
They twice went close before opening the scoring in the 25th minute. Firstly a header went wide and then the Pilgrims survived an almighty scramble. Moore broke clear and his fierce shot was parried onto the post by the great Bald One, the ball bounced off the post and then cannoned off the shins of Withe and was hence propelled goalwards again. This time a goal line clearance kept the Boston goal intact. However the inevitable was simply delayed by a couple of minutes. A speculative ball into the Boston box was only half cleared and Carmichael fired home from the edge of the box. United came back into the match in the last ten minutes of the first half and went close in stoppage time. From a free kick just outside the box Stanhope bent his shot round the defensive wall only to see his effort miss the target by a matter of inches.
The second period was dominated by the Pilgrims, playing some lovely pass and move football. Unfortunately they were only able to convert one of the many chances that they created. The equaliser arrived after 60 minutes after a period of sustained United pressure. Stanhope took a free kick from the right that was flicked on by Chambers and converted from close range by Cavell. His third strike of the season seemed to inspire the old War Horse and Paul enjoyed his best spell in an amber jersey since returning to York Street in the summer. It seemed only a matter of time before Fee's men would take the lead. Cavell thumped in a rasping shot that unfortunately went straight at the keeper, Leroy went close with a header and after a Mason cross from the left was fumbled by the home keeper but United were unable to take advantage. Just when it seemed that Ilkeston were going to "escape" with a draw - they scored the winning goal. From an 85th minute corner Robinson headed goalwards. The ball was helped into the net by the alert Carmichael.
United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Chris Withe, 4. Greg Fee, 5. Martin Hardy, 6. Steve Charles, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Steve Appleby, 9. Paul Cavell, 10. Leroy Chambers, 11. Richard Mason, 12. Danny Marshall, 14. Paul Watts, 15. Chris Cook, 16. Mark Melson, 17. Neil Featherstone.