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Altrincham 2-1 Pilgrims

Challenge Cup

With both sides having lost important games at the weekend it was good to see this match start with plenty of chances at both ends. Circumstances had forced the Pilgrims to adopt an unusually attacking formation. Martin Hardy and Len Curtis were missing from the defence and all three fit strikers, namely Paul Cavell, Chris Cook and Andy Mason were playing up front. Early indications looked good. Matt Dickens in the Altrincham goal was not looking at all comfortable with crosses. After four minutes when Andrew Stanhope knocked a free kick into the penalty area the keeper jumped for the ball, missed it and Joby Gowshall's header at the far post went agonisingly across the face of the goal and just wide. Two minutes later Altrinchan scored after an elementary mistake allowed Ricky HARRIS to break through the defensive line. Paul Bastock got a hand to his fierce shot but it was not enough to stop it going into the net. Boston nearly grabbed an equaliser a few minutes later. Cavell released Cook, who put in a burst of speed to outpace the Altrincham defence (yes he really did!) and run into space on the right edge of the area. He crossed into Andy Mason who fluffed his shot but the ball bounced out to Cavell whose shot was only inches outside the top left hand corner of the goal. On eighteen minutes Altrincham went two up. This time Danny McGoona made the breakthrough but instead of shooting he knocked the ball on to Nathan COMLEY-EXCELL who had the easy task of firing the ball into the back of the net.

For the next fifteen minutes the Pilgrims' heads dropped and it was all Altrincham. They could easily have scored a couple more goals. But just before half time Boston were unlucky not to pull a goal back when a series of shots and headers were saved or cleared off the line.

In the second half more chances fell to the Pilgrims but the ball refused to go into the net. Andy Mason and Paul Cavell both saw long range shots sail over the bar. Five minutes from time Martin Filson ran into the area but his shot was well saved. The Boston goal finally came three minutes from time when Andy Mason got into the area, threaded a pass through to Chris COOK who controlled the ball and then slammed it into the net. The goal came too late and Altrincham were able to hang on for the win, leaving Boston to concentrate on fanning the embers of their slim hopes of promotion.

Chris Withe finished off the match by managing to get booked for a bad tackle in the last minute, which was a shame as he had had a great game up until then. The rest of the Boston defence clearly needs a bit more practice if they are to work together as well without Martin Hardy as they do when he is present.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Chris Withe, 4. Greg Fee, 5. Martin Filson, 6. Steve Charles, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Steve Appleby, 9. Chris Cook, 10. Andy Mason, 11. Paul Cavell, 12. Danny Marshall, 14. Matthew Price.