Pilgrims 3-2 Northwich Victoria
Cup draws seem to have a tendency to pair teams who are just about to meet in the league, and thus Boston United found themselves playing a Conference fixture against the side that had knocked them out of the FA Trophy the previous Saturday. This time however they had home advantage and striker Simon Weatherstone back from suspension. The Boston team had also been further bolstered by three midweek signings - Darren Beesley, Neil Tarrant and Steven McGarry having joined the club from Airdrie, Ross County and St. Mirren respectively. Boston started well. Simon Weatherstone had two goal attempts that came close. Northwich then hit back when a through pass split the Boston defence setting Gregg Blundell free, only to be brought down by Paul Bastock running out of his area. Bastock's name went into the referee's book and Northwich failed to capitalise on the resulting free kick. On twenty four minutes Northwich took the lead. A deep pass from inside their own half cleared the Boston back line allowing BLUNDELL to nip in and plant his shot under the despairing dive of Bastock. Boston now piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser. A long range curler from Simon Weatherstone was only inches away from the top left corner. Then Daryl Clare saw a shot pass across the face of the goal. On forty-four minutes Boston equalised.
An attempted clearance of a cross from Angel on the wing was knocked into the path of SIMON WEATHERSTONE who drilled home. With half-time rapidly approaching there was a moment of drama when Daryl Clare tumbled to the ground following a challenge inside the area, but the referee was unmoved. Northwich's relief was however short lived as Boston went in front during injury time at the end of the half. A long pass forward by Angel was headed back towards his keeper by Mark Barnard, but it fell short into the path of SIMON WEATHERSTONE who accepted his chance well. Five minutes into the second half Boston increased their lead. A long punt downfield by Paul Bastock bounced nicely for Anthony ELDING, allowing him to head the ball over the advancing keeper into an empty net. Boston then began to dominate the game. A succession of corners were won and it seemed only a matter of time before their lead would be increased further. But it was Northwich who scored the only remaining goal of the game when BLUNDELL forced the ball home after Paul Bastock had made an initial save of Mark Devlin's penalty. With Dagenham & Redbridge only managing a draw against Forest Green Rovers, Boston have extended their lead at the top of the table to four points, though the "Daggers" do have a game in hand.
United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Lodge, 4. Scott, 5. Monington (R Weatherstone 61), 6. Ellender, 7. Beesley (McGarry 69), 8. Elding (Tarrant 83), 9. Clare, 10. S Weatherstone, 11. Angel. Subs not used: Costello, Newton.
Match report and photo by Ken Fox.