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Pilgrims 1-5 Nuneaton Borough

Nationwide Variety Club Trophy

by Barbara Singleton

A lop-sided look to the scoreline hid the one telling factor which effectively condemned Boston United to defeat. The Pilgrims had to contest 73 minutes of their Nationwide Conference Variety Club Trophy clash with only 10 men. Defender Colin Hoyle was a red card victim as early as the 17th minute - dismissed for handling on his own line at a time when United were looking secure with a 1-0 lead. But once United's skipper on the night left the field, visiting striker Marc McGregor dispatched the spot-kick to lay the foundations for a Nuneaton fightback. However, it wasn't until the dying throes that the visitors put the issue beyond doubt and two goals in the final three minutes arguably gave the tie a somewhat distorted twist. For long spells, Boston - despite their handicap - looked every inch fully capable of making a close contest of it. But in the end it was Nuneaton who booked themselves into the next round against Scarborough. Boston had made a dream start. After just 32 seconds, Andrew Stanhope crossed from the right and teenager Anthony ELDING marked his full debut with a fine scoring far post header.

Further home pressure then yielded a clutch of untaken half-chances before United's world became unhinged. McGregor ran on to a pass from John Taylor and fired a shot across keeper Kevin Martin. The ball was almost over the line when Hoyle flicked out his hand, and paid a double penalty for his actions - dismissal and MCGREGOR's conversion. Boston - fielding a much-changed team - managed to remain upbeat, though. Mark Rawle stabbed a shot at visiting keeper Ryan Young. Elding blazed over after a further spell of pressure. And then Paul Wilson agonisingly watched as a 25-yard free-kick smashed against the inside of a post. But just before the break, MCGREGOR sneaked in to volley Nuneaton ahead from a raking pass by Michael Love. Two minutes into the second half, the visitors netted a "killer" third when Delton FRANCIS slid in to convert a left-wing cross by Alex Sykes. Boston responded with Wilson seeing a free-kick deflected away while a Lennie Curtis header was scrambled out for a corner. But in the dying stages, Nuneaton exploited United's tiredness with FRANCIS striding clear to shoot past the advancing Martin and then SYKES tapping in.

United team: 1. Martin, 2. Wooding, 3. Lodge, 4. Hoyle, 5. Curtis, 6. Wilson, 7. Stanhope, 8. Elding, 9. Raynor (Hayes 83), 10. Rawle, 11. Minett. Subs (not used): Fewings, Lucas, Nuttell, Bastock (gk).