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Pilgrims 1-0 Crawley Town

Dr Martens League

by Barbara Singleton

Three red cards and a tense, fraught encounter. But ultimately the result that mattered. Those were the stark facts behind the scoreline which helped Boston United make another giant stride towards a return to the Conference. Their slender success, in tandem with Bath's shock 0-1 home reverse against Merthyr, means that today the Pilgrims sit 11 points clear in the race for the Dr Martens league title. However, not for the first time this season, United boss Steve Evans was at the centre of controversy. He was dismissed by referee Roger Burton along with Crawley boss Bill Smith after a dug-out altercation which followed a 64th minute red card for visiting defender Lee Doherty. The incident arose when Doherty appeared to elbow Lee Power. Referee Roger Burton saw it that way and sent off the Crawley man. The dismissal seemed to spark a heated and physical exchange on the benches, culminating in both managers being ordered off the field. After the match, the official declined to comment except to confirm he would be reporting the matter to the Football Association. Evans said: "While Lee was down receiving treatment I had a sponge thrown at me, then the referee sent us both off. I did nothing wrong."

Smith said: "The Boston manager was intimidating us and the linesman. We were the victims of a bad decision." The match itself saw Boston exert some early pressure without reward, but it was Crawley who generally carried the more potent threat as the afternoon wore on. Their best moment saw John Ugbah test Paul Bastock with a low drive on 23 minutes. In the minute leading up to the break, Keith Sharman missed out with a close range header and then Dean Wordsworth fluffed a golden opportunity, chipping wide with just Bastock to beat. United stepped up the tempo after the interval and strove hard to make a breakthrough, and after the red card rumpus Boston quickly capitalised on their one-man advantage when defender Colin HOYLE headed a 72nd minute winner from a Hayes corner. In the dying stages, substitute Paul Watts was denied by a smothering save from Little while Curtis and Rawle also went close, and a Power shot bounced back off the bar.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Paul Wilson, 4. Colin Hoyle, 5. Peter Costello, 6. David Rennie, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Steve Charles, 9. Lee Power, 10. Shaun Keeble, 11. Adie Hayes, 12. Paul Watts, 14. Mark Rawle, 15. Len Curtis.

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.