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Hull City 2-1 Pilgrims

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

It was the cruellest way to see at least a share of the spoils disappear. Boston United were denied a sixth Third Division point of the season by a last-gasp goal from title favourites Hull City. Just when it seemed the Pilgrims would shackle their big spending hosts — despite being down to 10 men for the final quarter of proceedings — they succumbed to a Stuart Green header in the dying throes. Up to that stage Boston had fought gamely to haul themselves back into the match via a 55th minute Paul Ellender equaliser after falling behind to a first half effort from home attacking midfielder Stuart Elliott. And arguably it was an unjust outcome to a match which had been closely contested throughout, albeit with little in the way of genuine clear-cut openings at either end. What the match did produce, though, was several notable half-chances many of which arrived for Hull during a first half which the home side definitely shaded. In the opening phases in particular Hull used the pace and skill of right-sided midfielder Jason Price to create most danger. In the fifth minute he got on the end of an Elliott cross but succeeded only in heading over. Four minutes later Price cashed in on static home defending when meeting a cross from Ben Burgess only to fire wide of target. Moments later United keeper Paul Bastock was called into action to clutch another Price effort. Boston’s first effort of note came in the 12th minute when Mark Angel found space on the left and saw a low drive pushed away by Paul Musselwhite seemingly also via the intervention of a post as well. United’s hopes rose with the award of a free-kick 25 yards out, but Neil Redfearn shot tamely over the top. Back in reply Danny Allsopp made a good run at the Boston goal but shot wide as the angle tightened. However, in the 34th minute Hull went ahead when ELLIOTT darted in to loop an 18-yard header over Bastock after an Allsopp flick from a Thelwell cross had only been partially cleared.

Briefly City threatened to swarm all over United. But creditably the Boston rearguard held firm and just before the break Tom Bennett went close to an equaliser but drilled too high from long range. Boston upped the tempo in decisive fashion after the break and had their hosts back-pedalling to cling on to their lead. Bennett saw one effort saved by Musselwhite while another Redfearn free-kick was blocked. But it wasn’t long before Boston’s pressure paid dividends. Redfearn curled a free-kick to the far post where ELLENDER headed downwards and the ball bobbled over the line via a couple of deflections. Despite having to face up to a couple of Hull corners in direct response to this goal, Boston were easily a match for their hosts and frequently had a sizeable home crowd hushed in frustration. But just as it seemed that Boston were organising their defensive unit into one capable of resisting renewed home pressure, disaster struck on 67 minutes when Matt Hocking bundled over Allsopp as the Hull forward threatened a clear run at goal. Hocking was instantly red-carded by referee Phil Prosser for being the last man and immediately the Pilgrims sacrificed Peter Duffield in favour of the defensive abilities of Mark Greaves in a bid to batten down the hatches for the final quarter of the game by using a 4-4-1 formation. As time wore on, Hull became more of an attacking force and both Price and substitute Jamie Forrester might have scored when chances arose. Boston tried hard to stem the flow of home attacks by introducing Simon Rusk and Richard Logan at separate stages. They, in tandem with the rest of the side worked hard to help avert any further danger and it seemed their efforts would be rewarded. But the final few seconds saw the killer blow was delivered to Boston hopes. A further sustained spell of pressure culminated in GREEN diving in to score with a low header from a cross by Dean Keates on the left.

United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Beevers, Hocking, Ellender, Chapman; Sutch, Redfearn, Bennett, Angel (Rusk 73); Duffield (Greaves 68), Douglas (Logan 81). Subs (not used): Croudson (gk), Potter.

Match report copyright © Barbara Singleton, 2003.