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Pilgrims 0-2 Lincoln City

Coca Cola League

In front of their record home Football League crowd of 6445 and a host of scouts from Championship clubs, Boston United were comprehensively beaten by local rivals Lincoln City in this re-arranged fixture that had originally been scheduled for Boxing Day. Both sides had late withdrawals from their squads that required adjustments to their playing formation. For Lincoln Gareth McAuley was missing and for Boston Lee Beevers failed a late fitness test. In a physical encounter the game was only fourteen minutes old before the first name went into referee Andy D'Urso's book after Ritchie Hanlon fouled the lively Danny Thomas. A couple of minutes later Boston almost took the lead when Andy Kirk saw his powerful drive rebound off the crossbar. Lincoln then had a string of chances. First Gary Taylor-Fletcher just failed to connect with a piercing cross from Simon Yeo, then Nathan Abbey had to rush out to claim the ball from the feet of Yeo after he raced onto a long ball forward by Hanlon. Abbey made two heroic saves on the half hour, first parrying Yeo's shot and then tipping Francis Green's follow-up away for a corner. Boston had a penalty claim turned down when Simon Rusk hit the ground following a challenge by Kevin Sandwith. Lincoln took the lead in the 36th minute following a slip by David Noble that let Hanlon gain the ball. HANLON took maximum advantage by scoring in spectacular fashion with a pile-driver of a shot into the top right hand corner from 30 yards out. Just before half-time Chris Holland saw his volley saved by Alan Marriott.

At the start of the second half Steven Boyack came on for Dean West, who had picked up a knee injury. Two minutes into the half Boston had a second penalty claim turned down after Danny Thomas appeared to be brought down by Matt Bloomer. Nathan Abbey picked up a gash to his head after making another brave save from Simon Yeo. The game was held up for five minutes as he received treatment from physiotherapist Lee Taylor. Boston almost found the net when Jason Lee nodded on Austin McCann's free kick to Paul Ellender, who hooked the ball just wide of the upright. In the 71st minute Lincoln extended their lead. A mistake by Emanuele Gabrieli gifted possession to Taylor-Fletcher whose throughball found YEO who slotted the ball past Abbey. Boston finished off the match searching for an elusive goal to get them back in the game. Marriot was forced to smother a shot by Danny Thomas, then another shot by Thomas ended with chaos in the Lincoln area as Jamie McCombie headed the ball onto his own crossbar. From the resulting corner Gabrieli saw his header kept out by Marriott. Right at the end Sandwith almost got a third goal for Lincoln but his free-kick went just wide. After the match loser Steve Evans commented: "We're out the play-offs now, we're finished, we'll just play out the season, we are not good enough."

United team: Nathan Abbey, Dean West (Steven Boyack 46), Austin McCann, Paul Ellender, Simon Rusk, Emanuele Gabrieli, David Noble (Lee Thompson 85), Chris Holland, Andy Kirk, Jason Lee, Danny Thomas. Subs not used: Stephen O'Donnell, Courtney Pitt, David Staff.

Match report copyright © Ken Fox, 2005.