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Pilgrims 0-1 Chester City

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

The spectre of title race jitters could have been a contributory factor as Boston United faltered in their quest for Conference honours. With second-placed Dagenham losing at Leigh RMI, the Pilgrims missed out on the chance to extend their lead at the top of the table, turning in a below-par performance against a Chester City side battling hard to ensure they do not get drawn back into the relegation mire. But whatever the circumstances behind the defeat, Mark Wright's side deserved their success which took their recent record to just one defeat in 14 matches. That will be of little interest to Boston who now have to try and re-ignite confidence in advance of their final nine matches of the season, starting tomorrow night with a tough-looking trip to Yeovil. Reflecting on Saturday's defeat, manager Steve Evans said: "We didn't really perform throughout the match. For whatever reason we didn't have a tempo or the passion and commitment we normally create. Our performance level dropped and when you are at the top of the table you cannot afford to do that. It all seemed quite flat. Whether that was due to the fact we have had a lot of big games in a few days, I don't know. But we never had the quality we have had recently."

United went into the clash with new signing Ray Warburton from Rushden plugging the gap caused by injuries to Mark Monington and Ross Weatherstone. And Warburton was a busy man it as Chester started brightly. United keeper Paul Bastock did well to hold two efforts from Chris Tate while Michael McElhatton and the ever-dangerous Mark Beesley saw shots flash inches off target. Boston's only responses were an early shot from Daryl Clare which drifted wide and a Mark Angel free-kick saved by Wayne Brown. But the visitors hit back. First Bastock and James Gould combined to thwart Tate who moments later saw a 20-yarder fly just wide, before McElhatton fired a shot at Bastock. After the break both sides had close calls with Boston's Jim Rodwell and City's Michael Rose going close. But the visitors grabbed the winner on 53 minutes when BEESLEY climbed to glance a Peacock free-kick beyond Bastock. Boston found some attacking momentum after falling behind with Jamie Cook seeing an effort blocked while Neil Tarrant headed wide. A Rodwell header and a David Town shot were countered by good saves from Wayne Brown while in the final moments an Ellender header was hacked clear by the well-organised City defence.

Boston team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Gould (Tarrant 63), 4. Ellender, 5. Warburton (Costello 86), 6. Rodwell, 7. M Brown, 8. Cook (Town 70), 9. Clare, 10. Rusk, 11. Angel. Subs (not used): Elding, Conroy (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.