Boston United 1-0 Swansea City
by Barbara Singleton
Boston United's eventful start to the season took yet more twists and turns on a night when possibly the 90 minutes of football played second fiddle to the post-match drama of Neil Thompson calling time on his role as acting manager at York Street. In addition, almost as an ironic sideshow, player-boss of opponents Swansea, Nick Cusack said he was preparing for news today that he would be leaving his position with the Welsh club. Former Wrexham manager Brian Flynn is widely touted as the man likely to step in after the Swans slipped to the bottom of the pile for the first time in their history. Cusack's announcement added to the frantic post-match developments with the media corps scurrying to representatives of both camps to get the low-down on issues which followed a productive night for United out on the pitch. And that in itself yielded a notable end result for the Pilgrims. Victory, albeit tight, enabled Boston to swap places with their rivals and start out on what fans hope will be a steady climb towards mid-table respectability. Simon Weatherstone was the hero with his volley on 36 minutes enough to pocket maximum spoils. He might have also soothed late-match nerves by smacking home an 82nd minute penalty. However, his spot-kick was saved by keeper Roger Freestone. By this stage of the match, the visitors had been reduced to 10 men with joint leading scorer Jamie Wood being shown the red card for throwing a punch at home substitute Matt Hocking. Overall, the most important statistics from a Boston perspective were that one goal and a welcome clean sheet yielded three points, which meant a rise to the dizzy heights of 23rd spot in the table. Boston's success was built on the platform of a reshaped team line-up, both in terms of personnel and in its formation. There was no sign of striker Daryl Clare, still obviously at loggerheads with Thompson after their disagreement prior to kick-off against Oxford on Saturday. In his absence, Thompson paired Steve Burton with Stuart Douglas in a twin strike force. Jamie Cook operated "in the hole" behind the front two. In midfield, the quartet of Simon Rusk, Simon Weatherstone, Neil Redfearn and Jamie Gould kept a tight and competitive rein.
But it was arguably the immense three-fold presence of Paul Ellender, Mark Greaves and Ray Warburton as a central defensive unit which proved the rock on which Swansea foundered and upon which Boston were able to work for their ultimate success. The back line links stayed solid even when Greaves had to depart early due to injury. His deputy, Hocking slotted into the groove. The visitors were by no means a good side. It was perhaps easy to see why they have hit the basement rung. Little confidence, little cohesion and little incisiveness. Memories of last night's clash are still fresh, especially the moment in the sixth minute when Ellender ventured upfield to round off a crisply constructed move with a rising angled drive which Freestone clutched well. Later Cook headed wide from a Weatherstone corner and then Redfearn and Burton had firm, low shots well held by the City custodian. The first foray of note for the visitors took 25 minutes to materialise. And its incisiveness was simple, with a through ball from Michael Howard splitting the home defence which allowed Wood a run on goal. But Bastock dashed out to smother at the striker's feet. The action switched to the other end and Boston took a 36th minute lead when Simon WEATHERSTONE swivelled well on the corner of the City six-yard box to smash a right-foot drive past Freestone, after Burton flicked on a Warburton free-kick. Swansea pressed again just before the break. Their best effort was a long-range drive from Paul Reid, which flew straight at Bastock. A testing cross from Howard on 51 minutes found James Thomas, but he headed wide. In reply, the Pilgrims went close to doubling their advantage in the 63rd minute when Burton shot over the angle after a Weatherstone corner had caused panic. The red card flashpoint came 12 minutes from time when Wood committed his indiscretion. Four minutes later Boston should have settled the issue when David Theobald tripped Cook in the area but Weatherstone's fiercely driven spot-kick was pushed aside by Freestone. The miss almost proved costly but thanks to safe handling by Bastock, the Pilgrims were able to negotiate a tricky final few moments with shots from Gareth Phillips and Thomas being expertly held by the Boston custodian.
United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Rusk, 3. Greaves (Hocking 52), 4. Ellender, 5. Gould, 6. Redfearn, 7. Warburton, 8. S Weatherstone, 9. Douglas, 10. Burton (Elding 90), 11. Cook. Subs (not used): R Weatherstone, Lodge, Conroy (gk).
This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.