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Rochdale 2-0 Pilgrims

Coca Cola League

Last season in this fixture Lee Beevers was sent off as Boston were beaten by a solitary goal. This season Beevers didn't even start, as he was out suspended following his sending off the previous week. The match however still ended in defeat for the Pilgrims as Boston failed yet again to pick up any points at Spotland - indeed they have never even scored at Rochdale's ground. With Beevers missing, manager Steve Evans moved Mark Greaves back to defensive duties and brought in Chris Holland in midfield. Daryl Clare also made his first start since returning to the club from Chester City last week. Clare looked eager to open his goalscoring account and he produced Boston's first efforts of note after quarter of an hour when his first shot was blocked allowing him a second chance which was well saved by Rochdale keeper Matthew Gilks. A few minutes later Danny Thomas broke down the left only to see his shot deflected inches too far infront of the incoming Clare. Rochdale then won a series of free kicks just outside the Boston penalty area. However on each occasion they wasted their opportunity and failed to breach the defensive Boston wall. The half finished with three good chances for Rochdale to take the lead. Grant Holt headed a cross wide of the target, then a jinking run by Leo Bertos ended with a shot that was deflected behind for a corner. Then Rochdale broke forward with three attackers against three defenders but Nathan Abbey made a crucial interception to deny Paul Tait a goalscoring opportunity. Boston began the second half in lively fashion, winning a corner in the opening seconds. Clare was then fouled on the edge of the area and when the Rochdale wall failed to move back the required distance the referee moved the kick forwards but Boston failed to gain any advantage as Clare's drive ricocheted off the wall.

Danny Thomas then won a corner and the ball eventually fell nicely for Paul Ellender who turned and fired the ball over the bar from the edge of the box. On 62 minutes, against the run of play, Rochdale took the lead. In a neat move down the right side, Holt picked out the unmarked BERTOS who slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner from ten yards out. Boston now applied pressure as they searched for an equaliser. Danny Thomas saw a piledriver of a shot blocked, then a Lee Thompson curler floated inches over the bar. Boston won a free kick on the edge of the area after a handball infringement, but David Noble wasted the chance with an effort that was well off target. Rochdale now began to gain the ascendancy. A long range effort by Ernie Cooksey required a good save by Abbey. Then substitute Taiwo Atieno just lost out in a race to the ball with the Boston keeper. Rochdale wrapped up the points six minutes from the end when COOKSEY fired home from 25 yards out after a Boston attack broke down allowing Rochdale to hit them on the break. The win let Rochdale leapfrog above the Pilgrims as Boston's abysmal away form continued and saw them slip down to 14th place. After the match Steve Evans commented: "We've missed Lee Beevers. He is the best young centre-back in the League in my opinion. We've not got beaten by a good team today. I'm sure at the end of the season we will finish above Rochdale. We've got absolutely no complaints today. The officials were the best I've seen. The referee was top class. We've been beat. Two defensive errors have cost us two goals."

United team: Nathan Abbey, Chris Holland (Steve Melton 80), Austin McCann, Dean West (Matt O'Halloran 70), Paul Ellender, Mark Greaves, David Noble, Lee Thompson, Daryl Clare, Jason Lee, Danny Thomas. Subs not used: Tam McManus, Simon Rusk, Greg Strong.

Match report copyright © Ken Fox, 2004.