Nuneaton Borough 1-1 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Boston United might have lost top spot in the Conference table. But in the context of a season-long title chase, this might still turn out to be a valuable point. Today, the Pilgrims sit one point adrift of main rivals Dagenham and Redbridge whose 4-2 victory at Hayes took them back into pole position. However, in what is looking increasingly like a two-horse championship pursuit, there are bound to be plenty more twists, turns and moments of drama - like, perhaps, the 85th minute ruled-out goal denied to Boston yesterday - in the second half of the campaign. On a day when United took their unbeaten league run to 13 matches, they had by far the better of the opening exchanges despite having to contend with a difficult and bobbly surface underfoot. They might have taken the lead inside the first minute when Elding got on the end of a long clearance downfield by Simon Rusk - again making up part of a three-strong central defensive unit alongside Paul Ellender and Mark Monington - but saw keeper Chris MacKenzie make a good save. Before the match reached its 12th minute stage, the visitors had carved out two more chances, first with Elding heading wide from an inviting cross by Mark Angel and then when Simon Weatherstone fired off-target following good creative work by Brown. And midway through the opening period Nuneaton went close on four occasions. First, on 19 minutes, Alex Sykes got in behind the Boston defence and fired a drive goalwards which Paul Bastock did well to hold. Two minutes later, the tenacious Rusk got in a brace of excellent blocks in quick succession to deny Mark Wright. Then, in the space of a few seconds, long-range efforts from Gary Birch and Wright flew close to the United goal.
But Boston hit back in positive fashion by taking a 28th minute lead when ELDING forced the ball home after getting on the end of a Mark Clifford cross. Nuneaton hit back with near misses by Wright and Charles while in reply, a Mark Angel cross-shot brought MacKenzie back into action with a fine tip-over save. However, the scores were levelled on 40 minutes when CHARLES found space in the United area and, after accepting a pass from Wright, blasted the ball past an exposed Bastock. Boston almost restored their lead two minutes before the interval when Brown got in a downward header. But MacKenzie again saved well. For spells in the second half it was Nuneaton who had the greater share of ascendancy. But, creditably, the Pilgrims dug in to ensure a share of the spoils. The home side carved out openings on 52 and 54 minutes with Charles again the focus of their forward momentum, first firing wide and then seeing a drive deflected off target. Boston hit back with Elding seeing a looping header drop over the home bar while substitute Daryl Clare had appeals for a penalty waved away after he seemed to be tripped in the area. Then, on 77 minutes, Clare got into another good position but fired a drive into the side netting. Nuneaton responded again with a Barry Williams cross-cum-centre being headed off the United line by Clifford. And moments later Birch drilled another effort just wide. Boston refused fully to settle for a draw and will consider themselves unlucky not to have prised out maximum spoils when, on 85 minutes, an excellent run and threaded pass from Clifford found Clare. He in turn put the ball past MacKenzie. But potential jubilation was cut short by a linesman's raised flag. And in that instant went United's chances of landing the victory spoils.
Boston team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Lodge, 4. Gould (Costello 84), 5. Monington, 6. Ellender, 7. Rusk, 8. Brown (Clare 54), 9. Elding, 10. S Weatherstone, 11. Angel (R Weatherstone 71). Subs (not used): Cook, Newton (gk).
This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.