Scunthorpe United 0-1 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
A reshuffled and revamped Boston United side chalked up a memorable away-day triumph at Glanford Park to banish their long-standing away-day blues and bounce straight back from the Boxing Day disappointment against Lincoln City. The Pilgrims were moulded into a flexible 3-4-3 system by manager Neil Thompson and the tactical masterstroke paid off handsomely to hoist United back up to 18th spot in the table. In the end an early goal from Peter Duffield proved decisive. But the whole team merited the highest praise for great commitment and determination. Boston were quickly out of the blocks and threatened on 10 minutes when Tommy Evans made a smart stop to deny Peter Duffields low 20-yarder. But the home keeper was powerless to stop Boston taking the lead less than two minutes later following a Beevers throw-in down the right. Home full-back Kevin Sharp failed to clear the danger, allowing Boyd to nip past a static Cliff Byrne and swing over a cross from the byline, which was met superbly by a clinical left-foot finish from DUFFIELD at the back post. Boston looked confident and pressed for a second goal. And it nearly arrived in the 14th minute when a Beevers lob from 25 yards was claimed at full stretch by Evans. Scunthorpe gradually began to hit back and had a chance to equalise when Byrne met Steven MacLeans corner at the back post. However, he could only stab wide from eight yards. Boston replied and Evans made a fine save to parry Beevers low effort following Bennetts quality through ball. Back at the other end, Mark Greaves did well to block Matt Sparrows goal-bound effort on 38 minutes.
Then Evans did well to gather Boyds effort from 12 yards after the Pilgrims on-loan front man had cut in from the right to shoot. Scunthorpe pressed again and Lee Featherstone headed over following Richard Kells long free-kick. Scunthorpe began the second half desperate to find an equaliser and their intentions were underlined by the introduction of a third striker - Paul Hayes - within four minutes of the restart. And after another close call for Duffield, Boston were then subjected to a sustained spell of pressure, but they defended resolutely with Greaves, Paul Ellender and Matt Hocking in particular repelling the threats posed by MacLean, Torpey and Hayes. A fine last-ditch tackle from Ellender denied Torpey as he looked set to pull the trigger on the end of a Hayes through ball. And Scunthorpe went close again on 75 minutes when MacLean drilled an effort straight across the face of goal and inches wide, much to the relief of a stranded Bastock. But Boston had chances to extend their lead too, and Beevers did brilliantly to latch onto Jones through pass and cut inside Sharp. But he lacked a finishing touch and drilled high over Evans crossbar. There was a heart-stopping moment for the Pilgrims at the start of the allotted four minutes stoppage time when Rusks hesitancy in midfield allowed Scunthorpe to break quickly and MacLean drilled just wide when it looked inevitable that he would score. And then deep into stoppage time MacLeans 20-yard free-kick was well blocked by Bostons defensive wall. And the Pilgrims also had a late chance. Excellent play down the right by Boyd saw him cut inside Sharp and drill goalwards. But Evans did well to parry the ball upwards and substitute Ian Kilford was on hand to hack the danger clear from a prowling Duffield.
United team (3-4-3): Bastock; Greaves, Hocking, Ellender; Beevers, Rusk, Bennett, Chapman; Boyd, Jones, Duffield. Subs (not used): Weatherstone, Angel, Redfearn, Hogg, Croudson (gk).