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Pilgrims 0-0 Mansfield Town

Coca Cola League

With former Conference Golden Boot winner Daryl Clare making a welcome return to Boston, the question on everyone's lips was could he be as successful in the League as he had been in the Conference with both Boston United and Chester City. Steve Evans decided to keep the fans waiting a little while longer as he let Clare occupy a place on the subs' bench. Much of the early pressure in the match came from Mansfield. For the first half hour the Stags had most of the possession and they created a fair number of half decent chances. David Artell fired a long range free kick over the bar after just two minutes, following a foul by Paul Ellender. Then on sixteen minutes Nathan Abbey had to make great save to tip over Artell's header following a free kick by Neil MacKenzie. Fraser McLachlan then shot wide from 20 yards out. On 22 minutes Lee Beevers picked up a yellow card for a foul on McLachlan. Fourteen minutes later there was much confusion as Beevers was sent off after he picked up a second yellow card after retaliating following a foul on him by Artell. After consulting his assistant the referee then awarded Boston a penalty for a seperate challenge on Austin McCann by Alex Baptiste. So down to ten men Boston had a great chance of taking the lead, but Tam McManus's effort was parried by Kevin Pilkington in the Mansfield goal.

A man short, Steve Evans decided to stick with an attacking formation. Just before half time Simon Rusk came on for David Noble after the latter indicated he was suffering with a problem with his bruised knee. For the second half Evans brought on attacking midfielder Steve Melton for defender Dean West, but it was Mansfield who had the better of the opening stages. A free kick by MacKenzie found its way through to Colin Larkin, but with an empty net in front of him Larkin prodded his effort wide. A 20 yarder by Larkin a few minutes later was easily saved by Abbey. Boston began to create a few chances of their own. McManus shot on the turn but Pilkington was more than a match for the weak effort. On 70 minutes came the moment that the fans had been waiting for when Clare finally made an appearance, coming on for McManus. Clare was soon in the action, seeing a shot blocked by Baptiste. Five minutes from time Jason Lee missed a great chance to grab an unlikely three points, but he blasted over from six yards out. Right at the death Mansfield almost scored but Abbey was able to parry MacKenzie's effort. After the match Steve Evans said: "I'm looking at Jason's missed chance. That's not good enough and it's not acceptable and I've just told him that."

United team: Nathan Abbey, Lee Beevers, Austin McCann, Dean West (Steve Melton 46), Paul Ellender, Mark Greaves, David Noble (Simon Rusk 41), Lee Thompson, Tam McManus (Daryl Clare 69), Jason Lee, Danny Thomas. Subs not used: Greg Strong, Matt O'Halloran.

Match report copyright © Ken Fox, 2004.