Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
As victories go, this was probably one of the most critical in Boston United's history. Nothing sophisticated, it was basically down to sheer guts and determination. And although it does not guarantee the Pilgrims' Third Division safety, the three points netted at the expense of fellow strugglers Shrewsbury provides a lot more comfort than the alternative outcome would have done. Admittedly the Shrews had more of the possession and a much greater share of the chances created, but it all boils down to the number of opportunities converted. And in this instance the Pilgrims took two while Shrewsbury only managed to take advantage of one of the half-a-dozen or so which came their way. Boston connections, of course, do not have to concern themselves with Shrewsbury's woes at a time when self preservation is the overriding issue. And goals either side of the interval by Peter Duffield and Neil Redfearn gave Boston the platform for success, despite a worrying response from Ryan Lowe midway through the second period which made for a nail-biting finale. Boston went into the clash by adopting a loose 4-3-3 formation to try and counteract Shrewsbury's forceful style of play. Both sides produced some neat exchanges in the opening phase, but without being able to conjure up a direct effort on either goal. The first moment of danger came in the 14th minute when the home side forced the game's first corner. It was partially cleared before Sam Aiston fired back into the danger area. The ball hit Nigel Jemson and fell to Lowe. But somehow from just six yards he blasted over the bar. Boston hit back with a good cross from Duffield which almost picked out Richard Logan but for a good intervention from Matt Redmile. On 27 minutes, Lowe again wasted a good chance. He burst through the Boston defence and fired beyond Paul Bastock - and wide of the far post as well. United hit back with a surging run by Logan. But his shot from the edge of the D drilled wide. Moments later, more good work by Logan then set up an opportunity for Tom Bennett.
But his attempt to get into a shooting position was snuffed out. Back at the other end, more attacking work by Lowe saw him fire at goal. The shot was blocked and then Jemson bundled the rebound wide. More home pressure followed with Peter Wilding almost getting on the end of an Aiston shot. But Boston closed ranks to clear danger. Almost instantly Ian Woan crossed into the United danger zone. The ball eluded Paul Bastock, but Jemson's effort was hacked off the line by Paul Ellender. And from a let-off at one end, the Pilgrims were then celebrating a breakthrough at the other. DUFFIELD broke free after turning Redmile following good creative work by Logan and Simon Weatherstone and coolly slotted past Ian Dunbavin. But back came Shrewsbury and Wilding somehow blazed over when presented with yet another chance on the six yard box. Boston's advantage was doubled three minutes into the second half when REDFEARN blasted home a right-foot scorcher from the edge of the box after Weatherstone had knocked down a free-kick from Ben Chapman. Any thoughts that a 2-0 lead would quell Shrewsbury's fire were unfounded as the home side piled even more pressure on the Boston back line - notably with Aiston causing problems and setting up untaken chances for Lowe and Jemson. Briefly United responded with Logan scuffing a shot wide. But on 72 minutes LOWE finally hit the target when skipping clear of the United rearguard before rounding Bastock to slide home a neatly taken goal. Moments later Robbie Hulbert shot off-target and on 80 minutes Aiston crossed for Holt, but Ellender was again well placed to clear. Boston briefly relieved the pressure with two unrewarded corners, both forced by Weatherstone. In the dying throes Shrewsbury pressed again and Aiston fed Lowe, but his drive rebounded off a post. Next Hulbert shot too high and in the final second of extra time substitute Jagielka fired straight at Bastock. After five minutes of stoppage time, the agony finally ended as Boston claimed a slender win which could have massive implications in the end-of-season round-up.
United team: (4-3-3) 1. Bastock, 2. Greaves (Rusk 68), 3. Balmer, 4. Hocking, 5. Chapman, 6. Bennett, 7. Ellender, 8. S Weatherstone (Costello 80), 9. Redfearn, 10. Logan, 11. Duffield. Subs (not used): Douglas, Town, Conroy (gk).