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Pilgrims 1-0 Oxford United

Coca Cola League

When former player-manager Jim Smith - one of Boston United's "All Time Greats" - returned to York Street with his new side Oxford United, he got a hero's welcome from the crowd. However, it wasn't to be his day as a series of events conspired to see his team go home with nothing to show for their valiant efforts. It all began to go wrong well before kick-off. The Oxford team bus was held up in traffic which meant the players missed their pre-match lunch. Then the referee decided that Oxford's kit clashed with Boston's so Oxford ended up having to borrow Boston's youth team away kit to play in. They had no luck in the game either. Cast iron penalty claims were turned down, outrageous Boston challenges received no punishment and touchline rants by the Boston management team were ignored. Boston made three changes to the starting line up over the side that had beaten Peterborough on Saturday. Simon Rusk's knee injury meant he was replaced by Jamie Clarke. David Galbraith came in for Chris Holland and Brad Maylett was used in preference to Julian Joachim who was suffering from a slight hamstring strain, but was still fit enough to take a place on the subs' bench. With a strong wind behind them Boston opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Oxford 'keeper Billy Turley made a hash of dealing with a free kick taken by Austin McCann. His attempted punched clearance just sent the ball into the path of Alan WHITE who tapped the ball into an empty net.

Boston immediately went into time wasting mode, taking every opportunity to deny Oxford time to find an equaliser. White soon had another good chance, but this time his header at the back post following a cross by Jamie Clarke was just wide. Lee Canoville then limped off after falling awkwardly and he was replaced by Gary Silk. Long range efforts by Maylett and Galbraith both went wide. Oxford had their first shot on goal in the 40th minute when Barry Quinn's attempt was well saved by Michel Kuipers. In the second half Oxford dominated, but just couldn't find the breakthrough their play deserved. On fifty-four minutes a free kick by Tcham N'Toya was tipped onto the underside of the bar by Kuipers and Austin McCann was able to clear the rebound before the incoming forwards could pounce. Oxford should have scored when a drive across the face of the goal by N'Toya found Leo Roget, but he somehow managed to screw the ball wide from two yards out. Turley joined the attack in the dying minutes and knocked the ball just wide of the post following a corner. After the match Steve Evans said: "It was a game of two halves. When the wind blows like that in Boston, especially on a dry day it makes it harder and for me Oxford couldn't get out in the first half. In the second half we got hemmed in more than we would have liked to have done."

United team: Michel Kuipers, Lee Canoville (Gary Silk 17), Austin McCann, Alan White, Paul Ellender, Mark Greaves, David Galbraith (Julian Joachim 84), Jamie Clarke (Chris Holland 67), Danny Thomas, Bradley Maylett, Lawrie Dudfield. Subs not used: Steve Melton, Richard Chinn.

Match report copyright © Ken Fox 2006.