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Pilgrims 1-0 Southport

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

Home debutant Simon Rusk was the match-winning hero for Boston United. His 35th minute close-range header proved sufficient to prise out maximum Conference spoils for the Pilgrims. And more importantly, it put Steve Evans' team back on the winning track after 10 competitive fixtures without a victory. Besides ending Boston's somewhat barren sequence, the result also shattered a proud record held by opponents Southport - that of an unbeaten away league run dating back to mid-November. The moment which effectively settled the issue came when RUSK lunged in to bundle home a loose ball after Ken Charlery had got a telling flick-on - in advance of a challenge from keeper Steve Dickinson - to a centre from the left by Andy Lodge. The goal and final outcome delighted Evans, who said: "It was just what we needed. This match was all about guts and determination. And that's what we got from the players. The goal wasn't the prettiest you will ever see. But it was good reward for Simon because he ran fully 60 yards to get into the vital position. The result now gives us extra belief for the rest of the season."

Yesterday's York Street clash also enabled Boston to extract revenge for a 3-1 reverse at Southport inflicted earlier in the campaign. The match never hit any great heights, although over-fussy officiating by referee Neil Perkin didn't help matters - his collection of nine names arguably being a contributory factor to a somewhat scrappy affair. Southport enjoyed the better of exchanges in the opening throes with a trio of notable chances. First an unmarked Scott Guyett headed over from six yards after meeting a free-kick by the influential Mike Marsh. Then Dino Maamria scuffed a drive straight at Paul Bastock while Chris Lane screwed another shot wildly off-target. Boston gradually asserted their authority and in the 23rd minute Micky Nuttell swivelled to fire wide. Moments later Simon Weatherstone broke free only to be denied by Dickinson. And the same fate befell Ross Weatherstone (who shortly afterwards succumbed to a knee injury) following a Mark Clifford flag-kick. At the start of the second period both sides had a chance apiece, but neither found the target. After spells of scrappy play, Southport tried to step up the tempo late on and the home goal enjoyed a number of escapes.

United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Lodge (Lucas 80), 4. R Weatherstone (Costello 29), 5. Gowshall, 6. Hoyle, 7. S Weatherstone (Cook 80), 8. Charlery, 9. Nuttell, 10. Rusk, 11. Dick. Subs (not used): Stanhope, Conroy (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.