Rochdale 1-0 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Awayday blues once again hampered Boston Uniteds progress in the Nationwide Third Division. The Pilgrims slumped into 18th position following this disappointing result at Rochdale, which left Boston with just one win on the road in the league this season. The only goal of the game arrived in the 42nd minute when Gareth Griffiths bundled the ball home following a partially cleared corner. Their misery was compounded by a controversial red card handed out to Lee Beevers in the 74th minute, for a professional foul on Paddy McCourt. The result now means that the Pilgrims have recorded just one win, five points and five goals on their travels to date. Bostons cause was not helped by the fact that they were missing several first-teamers, including Mark Greaves, Stuart Balmer, Paul Ellender, Tom Bennett and Daryl Sutch. Beevers was employed alongside Matt Hocking in a new-look central defensive pairing, while Simon Rusk joined Simon Weatherstone, Lee Thompson and Neil Redfearn in an unfamiliar midfield department. The game did not have the best of starts, with both sides struggling in wet conditions at the sparsely-populated Spotland Stadium. Rochdale had the first clear-cut chance in the 12th minute when Paul Connor stabbed wide after breaking clear of the Boston defence. Boston responded with Adam Boyd drilling wide from distance and then seeing Beevers header well gathered by Neil Edwards following Redfearns corner. Boston continued to search for an opening goal and Thompson and Redfearn linked well to set up another opportunity for Boyd but his effort failed to trouble Edwards as it drifted wide. Rochdale saw two half-chances go begging, with Connor firing a low effort into Bastocks arms, before the Pilgrims custodian dashed out well to thwart the same man, following Leo Bertos fine throughball. However, Bostons luck ran out on 42 minutes when Dale took the lead in unfortunate circumstances, with GRIFFITHS forcing the ball home from close range after an awkward goalmouth tangle following a corner.
The flag-kick, taken by New Zealander Bertos, was needlessly conceded by Chris Hogg, and the breakthrough materialised when Jones, back defending, headed high into his own danger area with Bastock seemingly poised to make a punched clearance. On the stroke of half-time, Bastock had to be alert to gather Wayne Evans spectacular 35-yarder. The second half began with Rochdale in the ascendancy, and Bertos corner, three minutes into the half found Griffiths, who almost replicated his first-half feat, although he could only head over on this occasion. Boston were forced to fend off a couple more half-chances, before United enjoyed a fair spell of attacking play, albeit with little end product. The swirling wind was making life difficult for Edwards, and his goal-kicks were lacking distance. This enabled Boston to gain a foothold in proceedings and Boyd fired just over following Hoggs throughball. Then long range drives by Redfearn and Lee Thompson tested the home rearguard while in reply a shot from 18 yards by Andy Bishop kept Bastock on his toes. The introduction of Peter Duffield and Mark Angel offered more impetus to the United attack and Redfearn went close on a couple of occasions, seeing one effort flash wide, while the other was smartly gathered by Edwards. However, Bostons hopes of snatching an equaliser were dented when Beevers was red-carded in the 74th minute, after referee Nigel Miller adjudged him to have been the last man when bringing down McCourt. The card was shown despite Hogg appearing to have provided cover for his defensive colleague. The subsequent free-kick saw Bertos fire tamely over the bar. Boston felt aggrieved at the decision, but had to reshuffle their pack and 12 minutes from time Boyd got into a good shooting position but saw the ball whistle inches off target. Late on, Boyd and Redfearn both fired just wide from good positions, before the clock eventually denied Boston any sort of comeback and condemned the Pilgrims to an eighth away league defeat in 11 matches.
United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Hogg, Beevers, Hocking, Chapman (Morrow 90); Redfearn, L Thompson (Angel 72), Rusk, Weatherstone; Jones (Duffield 68), Boyd. Subs (not used): Clarke, Croudson (gk).