Bury 1-3 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Buoyant Boston United climbed to an all-time high of 11th place in the Third Division with a tremendous success over in-form Bury. A goal from debutant striker Dene Cropper and two more by winger Danny Thomas overshadowed a first half equalising penalty by Burys Danny Swailes as the Pilgrims kept up their run of improving performances and results under manager Steve Evans. The opening phase of the first half saw Boston create a positive impression and they took the game to the home side with a couple of early corners. And things got a whole lot better from a Pilgrims perspective after just eight minutes when CROPPER fired his new colleagues ahead with a tidy finish when left one-on-one with Bury keeper Glynn Garner after being set clear by a raking through pass from Paul Ellender. Later on, a 25-yard free-kick from Tom Bennett was fired straight into the arms of Garner. And then Mark Greaves went close from a Thomas corner. But Bury looked dangerous on the counter attack particularly through leading scorer Gareth Seddon. And, on 12 minutes, he was tripped by United full-back Ben Chapman in the Boston area with the referee instantly whistling for a spot-kick. Bury defender SWAILES stepped up and fired past Paul Bastock to level the scores. For a while Bury carried the attack to Boston, but the Pilgrims - well marshalled by Ellender and Greaves - commendably held firm. And then, on 25 minutes, Boston retook the lead. Steve Melton won a crunching tackle in midfield and set David Noble skipping free. He made good ground and then whipped a ball in towards Cropper. He miscued, but possession fell to THOMAS whose scuffed effort seemed to deflect off home defender Tom Kennedy and bobbled past Garner. Bury hit back and in the 34th minute they again went close. A cross from Seddon caused problems for the United rearguard and Lee Beevers had to hack away at the expense of a corner, from which David Nugent saw a close range header bounce off target when a leveller looked likely.
Then five minutes before the break, a cross from Matt Barrass found Swailes but he headed straight at Bastock. Three minutes into the second half, Bury almost grabbed a second equaliser when Terry Dunfield got on the end of a Seddon cross, but his close range header was superbly held by Bastock. Play then developed into a battle for midfield possession with neither side really creating any clear-cut moments of danger. However, on 61 minutes Melton fed Cropper who in turn almost provided an inch-perfect ball for Stuart Douglas but home defender Colin Woodthorpe nipped in to cut out potential danger. A couple of minutes later Greaves conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position but the result was Swailes heading just too high from Kennedys set-piece. Bury threw on substitutes John Cartledge and Chris Porter in a bid to redress the balance. But Boston were next on the offensive when Noble and Cropper linked well with the latter clipping in a cross for Douglas to meet with a diving header. But the ball was forced wide off the sprawling figure of Garner. But then Bury started to attain a degree of control and the Pilgrims were forced on the defensive for lengthy spells, notably when Dave Nugent dragged a shot wide when placed to have done much better from a Kennedy cross and then when Dave Challinor blasted wide from distance. As the match entered its final 10 minutes Bury pressed again and Swailes blazed wide following a half-cleared corner. Then on 84 minutes another Kennedy flag-kick saw Swailes head goalwards, but Melton cleared off the line. Bostons nerves were jangling. But two minutes from time, Pilgrims connections were able to breathe easier when THOMAS latched onto a pass from substitute Lee Thompson and fired home his third goal in two outings for United to send 220 travelling fans into delirium as Boston cemented only their fourth away win of the season.
United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Beevers, Ellender, Greaves, Chapman; Melton, Bennett, Noble (Holland 89), Thomas; Cropper (Thompson 86), Douglas (Hurst 76). Subs (not used): Croudson, Hocking.