Torquay United 1-1 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Every point is vital to Boston United's battle to ensure Third Division survival. And this was certainly a valuable share of the spoils, extracted against one of the sides pressing hard for a place in the promotion play-offs. Mark Angel's 82nd minute penalty deservedly levelled up matters after Alex Russell's quickly-taken free-kick midway through the second half had threatened to leave the Pilgrims pointless from their marathon trek to the south coast. As it turned out, Boston played a full part in an entertaining match and were arguably unlucky not to the prised even greater rewards from the encounter. It was only the inspired first half form of giant Torquay keeper Arjan Van Heusden that kept Boston at bay, notably with four excellent saves. The Dutchman's exploits ensured his side stayed in the contest at a time when the Pilgrims could easily have made a telling breakthrough. As things unfolded, Boston were the first on the attack with a Neil Redfearn corner being headed clear by the home defence. And then, with the Pilgrims enjoying a good share of possession, Richard Logan saw a cross-shot blocked. Torquay came back into the argument with Russell prompting well from midfield and both Simon Clist and Kuffour both seeing efforts held by Paul Bastock. In the 21st minute the Boston custodian was called into his first serious piece of saving action when keeping out a low snap-shot from Tony Bedeau. For a few brief moments, it looked as though Torquay were going to hit a purple patch with subsequent attacks seeing Martin Gritton cross low into the Boston box only for Ben Chapman to boot clear and then a Russell shot bringing a good stretching save from Bastock. Minutes later a Jason Fowler cross was headed away by Paul Ellender and then a Clist drive was deflected wide. But the Pilgrims held firm and forced their way back into the reckoning. On 33 minutes Van Heusden made the first of his telling interventions when saving on his line from Redfearn after a Logan drive had been partially blocked.
Then a Logan shot met the same fate as Boston pressed again. Towards half-time, it took two more excellent saves from Van Heusden to thwart a fierce 25-yard free-kick by Redfearn and a solid header by Ellender, while a Simon Weatherstone effort was deflected off target as the Pilgrims pressed again. In reply, Torquay again went close when Mark Greaves superbly headed away from a Russell free-kick and then Bedeau blazed wide when another half-chance arose. Torquay upped the tempo at the start of the second half and Bastock produced a fine tip-away save to deny Bedeau. Later on, the Boston keeper scrambled across goal as Gritton got on the end of a David Graham cross but sent a header just wide. Gradually, Boston weathered the storm and forced their way back into the reckoning, notably when Van Heusden tipped away a powerful 20-yard drive by Weatherstone. The match had reached its 68th minute when Torquay went ahead. Boston striker Jones was adjudged to have impeded Fowler when chasing back for possession. With Bastock lining up his wall, RUSSELL curled a quickly-taken free-kick into the unguarded side of the net. Bastock attempted to scramble across to save, but succeeded only in cracking his head against the post. Despite emerging from lengthy treatment with an egg-sized bump on his head, he bravely battled on. In a bid to rescue something from the match, manager Neil Thompson substituted Redfearn for the wing skills of Angel in the 74th minute and then Peter Duffield for Logan with 10 minutes remaining. And in the 82nd minute Angel seized possession in the Torquay area only to be bundled over by Kevin Wills. ANGEL immediately grabbed the ball and fired confidently beyond Van Heusden to bring his team level. In an exciting finale, both sides pressed for a late winner, Torquay going close when Bastock had to make a great save from Gritton and then at the other end when Tom Bennett and Paul Ellender came within a whisker of giving Boston maximum spoils.
United team: (4-4-2) 1. Bastock, 2. Greaves (Costello 85), 3. Balmer, 4. Hocking, 5. Chapman, 6. Bennett, 7. Ellender, 8. Redfearn (Angel 74), 9. Weatherstone, 10. Jones, 11. Logan (Duffield 80). Subs (not used): Douglas, Price (gk).