Hull City 1-0 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
It is at times like the 49th minute of this Third Division encounter that a team really knows Lady Luck can dish out a hefty kick in the teeth. Hull full-back Damien Devaney delivered what looked nothing other than a speculative hoofed centre in the general direction of the Boston goal. Seconds later he was wheeling away in celebration as the ball bizarrely dropped into the United net for what many people might consider one of the fluke strikes of the season. But, that's what happens when you're down. And to surrender maximum spoils on such a freak pivotal moments was all the more galling. However, on a day when the Pilgrims also had debutant defender Paddy McCarthy dismissed for two yellow card offences, the cold and lone statistic which mattered was another notch in the "lost" column. Thankfully, all United's rivals in the basement region also took tumbles which means that effectively no ground was lost in what now seems like developing into a struggle to be the drop. United have now slipped to six successive defeats - four of them in league matches - and desperately need to stem the flow of setbacks. However, throughout a competent first half at Boothferry Park, it seemed that the Pilgrims were capable of grabbing at least a share of the spoils. Early on, an Alex Higgins long range shot drifted wide of the target as United briefly threatened. However, Hull responded with Gary Alexander forcing a good save from the hands of Paul Bastock. United defender Matt Hocking was involved in a Boston attack on 17 minutes when he headed just wide after Peter Costello had crossed from Mark Angel's quick free-kick. Boston had another chance when Angel curled a 20-yard free-kick marginally over after Thompson had been felled by Justin Whittle. Boston had a let-off on 28 minutes after Hocking had slipped over, allowing Alexander to run clear, but he was denied by a challenge from Alex Higgins.
Arguably the best chance of the half fell to Newcastle loanee Stuart Green on 35 minutes when he headed just over from a right-wing Branch centre. Thompson's low shot on 44 minutes was blocked by Whittle after Angel had crossed from the left. Then, Boston had a penalty appeal turned down when Chapman appeared to fall under the challenge of Anderson. Subsequently, Elding headed just wide from an Angel cross, under pressure from John Anderson. The Tigers went ahead on 49 minutes when DELANEY's cross-cum-shot floated over Bastock and sailed into the net after Higgins had failed to clear a loose ball in the box. Boston were reduced to 10 men on 51 minutes when McCarthy was sent off for retaliation after Michael Branch had chopped him down in the Boston box. Branch was also booked for his reckless challenge which sparked the fracas. Next, Bastock made a superb diving save to deny Green moments later after Dean Keates' corner had fallen to him on the edge of the box. Boston came close to equalising on 57 minutes when Angel's fierce shot cannoned back off the post. The United winger had cut in from the right and unleashed an unstoppable drive that had Musselwhite well beaten. And then Angel saw Musselwhite gather another fine effort a minute later. Hull responded with substitute Stuart Elliott's low shot, which was blocked low down by Bastock. An excellent double challenge from Chapman denied Green and the Elliott as both Hull players threatened to shoot. Steve Melton then blazed a 20-yarder just wide of Bastock's upright as Hull sought to increase their lead. Hull had a goal disallowed on 84 minutes when sub Phil Jevons converted Delaney's cross from an offside position. Boston desperately looked for a levelling goal and threw on substitutes Stuart Douglas and Jamie Cook in their pursuit of the equaliser. Thompson fired a shot wide from distance after Angel had created the chance and then Cook saw a looping header from Warburton's cross easily gathered by Musselwhite.
United team: (3-5-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Hocking, 3. McCarthy, 4. Warburton, 5. L Thompson, 6. Higgins, 7. Costello, 8. Angel, 9. Chapman, 10. Battersby (Cook 85), 11. Elding (Douglas 67). Subs (not used): Redfearn, R Weatherstone, Conroy (gk).