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Rochdale 1-1 Pilgrims

Coca Cola League

In their three previous matches at Spotland, Boston United had been remarkably consistent - they had lost all three games and had even failed to score a single goal. So a 1-1 draw can be looked on as an achievement and on the balance of play it was a pretty fair result. Jamie Clarke who had signed from Rochdale last week was not allowed to play in this match due to a forbidding clause in his new contract, so Asa Hall came into the starting line-up in his place. Clear winter skies greeted the players as they ran out onto what must be the worst pitch Boston have played on since the quagmire at Leyton Wingate back in 1988. Boston received an early advantage in the first half as Rochdale played into the Sun as it sank low in the sky - their players having to shade their eyes to spot the Boston attacks. Boston took the lead in the 8th minute. Gary Silk lofted a free kick into the box and Mark Greaves mishit his shot, only for the ball to fall nicely for James KEENE who had the simple task of tapping the ball across the line at the back post. Silk found his name going into the referee's book in the 16th minute for a challenge on Alan Goodall that could easily have earned a straight red. The resulting free kick was driven straight into the arms of Conrad Logan by Rickie Lambert. Rochdale's first real shot at goal came in the 19th minute when a long range effort by John Doolan went wide of the right post. Doolan blazed another effort goalwards ten minutes later, but this one was too high. Rochdale equalised on the half hour. It was a simple goal. Gareth GRIFFITHS took advantage of the lack of height in the Boston defence to head home a corner by Lambert.

Six minutes from half time Julian Joachim broke down the right wing and fired in a powerful drive from an acute angle, but Rochdale keeper Matthew Gilks made an amazing save to tip the ball over the bar. Gilks then finished off the half with another fine save, this time denying James Keene. Rochdale dominated the second half but were woefully lacking in the final third. Ernie Cooksey was at the heart of a string of clever moves down the left wing that almost found their way through the Boston defence. Doolan fired yet another long range effort over the bar. Then Jonathan Boardman headed a Lambert corner inches wide of the right post. Rochdale should have taken the lead in the 67th minute when a mistake by Greaves gave Lambert a clear sight of the goal but he lobbed the ball wide to the relief of the Boston defender. In a rare Boston attack Asa Hall drove the ball wide from 20 yards out. Conrad Logan made a superb acrobatic save to keep out a shot by Dagnell in the 78th minute. The match ended with a flurry of pointless substitutions as the match drifted towards its conclusion. After the match Steve Evans commented: "They've no had a chance in the game apart from the goal. So you've got to say we would have settled for the draw at 3 o'clock but not at quarter to five. These kids are learning every day. To come here and be the team that's unfortunate to go away with a point, we've got to say we've done a lot right in the game. I am a really proud manager."

United team: Conrad Logan, Lee Canoville, Gary Silk, Austin McCann, Chris Holland, Mark Greaves, Asa Hall (Simon Rusk 83), Stewart Talbot, Peter Till (Bradley Maylett 90), Julian Joachim, James Keene (Lawrie Dudfield 87). Subs not used: Paul Ellender, David Galbraith.

Match report copyright © Ken Fox 2006.