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Celebrations after Clare's goal

Pilgrims 3-1 Darlington

Coca Cola League

Manager Steve Evans decided to give striker Daryl Clare a start in what on paper looked like it would be a very tough test against in-form opposition who posed a real threat of breaking Boston's unbeaten home record in the League this season. It turned out to be a magnificent decision as Clare and Andy Kirk tore the Darlington defence apart giving the Pilgrims an even easier win than the 3-1 scoreline suggests. In the first half they produced one of the best performances seen at York Street this season. Darlington started the livelier of the two sides, winning a series of corners that the Boston defence at times were fortunate to deal with. On the quarter hour Boston had their first good opportunity when Mark Greaves volleyed over the bar following a cross from the right wing. Boston took the lead a couple of minutes later after Curtis Fleming pushed Clare to the ground as he ran into the box. Andy KIRK had to re-take the resulting penalty, but he found the net with both attempts. Boston increased their lead on 41 minutes when Boston broke out of defence and Kirk found CLARE who picked his spot with a shot across the goal that arrowed into the bottom left hand corner. With only seconds left in the first half Boston scored their third goal. Again a Darlington attack broke down and Boston went forward in numbers.

With the ball at his feet, Danny THOMAS sped towards the Darlington goal and ignoring Clare and Kirk alongside him, fired in a wicked shot that keeper Sam Russell couldn't quite deflect from its target. Darlington almost got off to a dream start in the second half, but Adrian Webster finished off a good move by shooting straight at Nathan Abbey. Five minutes later Darlington got a goal back from the penalty spot after Dean West was adjudged to have fouled Alun Armstrong. Craig HIGNETT scored from the spot kick. Armstrong almost got another fifteen minutes later, but his shot was just wide of the left hand post. Boston then saw two shots hit the post, the first from Chris Holland, the second from Kirk. The match finished with lots of Darlington pressure with nothing to show for it as Abbey made a series of good saves. First was a snap shot from Armstrong as he turned and shot from the edge of the area. Then Abbey tipped over a long range screamer by Brian Close. Finally a good combination by Armstrong and Adolpho Gregorio ended with a dangerous looking cross but Abbey claimed the ball well.

United team: Nathan Abbey, Lee Beevers, Austin McCann, Dean West, Paul Ellender, Mark Greaves, Chris Holland, Steve Melton (Lee Thompson 85), Daryl Clare (Simon Rusk 90), Andy Kirk, Danny Thomas (Courtney Pitt 89). Subs not used: David Staff, Jason Lee.

Match report and photograph copyright © Ken Fox, 2004.