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Sheffield United 1-0 Pilgrims

Carling Cup

With Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock using this match to give some of the fringe players in his squad a chance to impress, it was always going to be closer than the relative positions of the two sides would suggest. Paul Ellender made a welcome return to Boston's starting line-up, coming in for Ben Futcher - who was serving a one match ban following his sending off on Saturday. Ellender put in a sterling performance, so manager Steve Evans will have a difficult decision to make now that Futcher is available again. It was a while before any chances were made at either end. Sheffield United won a series of corners, but these were all easily dealt with by the Boston defence. The game was almost half an hour in before Boston got their first half-chance but a good tackle by Chris Morgan prevented Julian Joachim from getting a shot in. Abbey then had to make a diving save to keep out a long range effort by the Blades' new £850,000 signing from Millwall - Paul Ifill. Jason Lee then had his shirt ripped from his back by Morgan and Lee had to change into an unnumbered replacement. On 38 minutes Abbey made another good diving save to concede a corner and keep out a drive by Alan Quinn. Boston finished the half with a flurry of goal-scoring opportunities. Jason Lee set up a chance for Danny Thomas, but his shot was just wide. Then a great cross by David Noble found Simon Rusk at the back post, but Sheffield's keeper Phil Barnes managed to recover well after fumbling the initial save. On the stroke of half-time Rob Kozluk saw his header pass across the face of the Boston goal before going inches wide.

On 49 minutes Joachim should have put Boston in front when he outpaced his marker, but he dragged his shot wide. Sheffield United took the lead a minute later. A corner wasn't cleared and Ian ROSS pounced on the loose ball on the edge of the area to fire home into the top of the goal, with a slight deflection off Lee Canoville ensuring that Abbey had no hope of making a save. The goal did nothing to stop Boston's attacks. Jason Lee dragged an effort wide of the post, then Rusk headed a Danny Thomas cross back across the goal, but there was no Boston forward there to capitalise. A twsting, turning run by Thomas ended with a pass to Joachim, who unable to shoot himself, laid the ball back to Noble who curled his shot over the bar. Joachim soon got on to a through ball from McCann, but again shot wide. McCann himself then joined an attack and Noble picked him out only for McCann to shoot wide. Another superb cross from Thomas was only a hair's breadth away from the incoming Rusk. Rusk and Noble were then replaced by Maylett and Holland in the hope that their fresh legs would help Boston find an elusive equaliser. Ellender had two good efforts as the tie drew to a close, but neither quite found the target. Whelan came on for the last five minutes and he somehow failed to stab the ball home before the Sheffield defence closed him down. After the match Steve Evans said: "We've showed tonight if we play with that tempo and that passion we can be a match for most. We've got to take that into League action on Saturday."

United team: Nathan Abbey, Lee Canoville, Paul Ellender, Austin McCann (Noel Whelan 84), Alan White, Simon Rusk (Chris Holland 76), David Noble (Brad Maylett 76), Stewart Talbot, Julian Joachim, Jason Lee, Danny Thomas. Subs not used: Daryl Clare, Chris Wright.

Match report copyright © Ken Fox 2005.