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Pilgrims 4-0 Notts County

Coca Cola League

by Pete Brooksbank

For a match billed as "the biggest of the season" by manager Steve Evans prior to kick-off, this game, for 75 minutes at least, had the feel of a passionless end-of-season kick between two teams with nothing left to play for. The Pilgrim's faint play-off hopes may have depended critically on a win against a County team humbled at the weekend by Kidderminster, but a neutral might never have guessed. However, the nature of the final minutes of this demolition job will have warmed the hearts of Boston fans left cold by recent events off the field. Maybe, just maybe, there's life in this season yet. Just forget the first 45 minutes, which were quite simply dreadful. The opening moments were characterised by early Notts County pressure, as much as they'd offer all evening, the only incident being Paul Ellender's early booking for a foul on stand-in County keeper Rob Elliot. The game quickly descended into another scrappy League 2 midfield battle with neither team particularly eager to take the initiative. Indeed, Boston's David Noble made a number of mistakes, clearly lacking confidence and losing possession at every opportunity. As the game drifted on towards half-time the crowd sank into their seats, left uniformly unimpressed by both team's reluctance to attack the other. Steve Evans almost certainly concurred; the second half saw a re-jigged formation, with Chris Holland withdrawn - replaced by Lee Thompson - and United looking far more determined. County happily sat hunkered down in midfield, soaking up the pressure and looking to strike on the break, without actually trying to do so. But Boston were creeping ever closer to goal and when Daryl Clare smacked the bar with a header midway through the first half County didn't heed the warning signs.

Soon afterwards Ellender forced a good stop from Rob Elliot with his headed effort from Thomas' free-kick. Elliot made a mess of the resulting corner, dropping the ball and prompting some push and shove between Paul Ellender and Mike Whitlow. On 69 minutes, Steve Evans replaced Courtney Pitt with new signing Jermaine Easter as he searched for goals. Six minutes later, with the game still locked at 0-0, Boston got the breakthrough they deserved when David NOBLE'S crossed free kick eluded his intended target in Alan White, but also missed the County defenders and snuck past a stranded Rob Elliot. Boston almost immediately scored a second against the reeling Magpies, Jermaine Easter lining up a second only to be foiled by an excellent challenge from highly rated youngster Kelvin Wilson. The Pilgrims did not sit on their lead and sustained their attacking approach. County were struggling, teetering on disarray, and although they did briefly trouble Abbey on 83 minutes - Stefan Oakes swirling in a dangerous-looking free kick - they paid a heavy price for their efforts. Seconds after County's foray, Jermaine EASTER took advantage of a fortuitous deflection from Mike Whitlow's attempted clearance. Left one-on-one with Rob Elliot, Easter kept his cool and finished calmly - and impressively - for a debut goal with his new club. By this point, Boston looked rampant and as the game drew to a conclusion Notts County completely disintegrated. Lee THOMPSON scored another one-on-one following Elliot's horrendous clearance on 88 minutes, before Jermaine EASTER completed the rout with his second, rounding off a dream debut off the bench.

United team: Nathan Abbey, Dean West, Alan White, Austin McCann, Paul Ellender, Chris Holland (Lee Thompson 46), Simon Rusk, David Noble, Courtney Pitt (Jermaine Easter 69), Daryl Clare (Steve Melton 86), Danny Thomas. Subs not used: Stephen O'Donnell, David Staff.

Match report copyright © Pete Brooksbank, 2005.