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Telford United 3-2 Pilgrims

Nationwide Conference

by Barbara Singleton

Boston United's disappointing run of away results rolls on - but they can look back with something of a sense of injustice after playing a full part in a truly exciting encounter. The statistics now show that the Pilgrims have pocketed just one point from their last five away Conference outings. However, on Saturday, their attack-minded display arguably merited at least some sort of reward. It was, perhaps, only three moments of defensive uncertainty which eventually proved the catalyst for their downfall - a first half breakaway from Gez Murphy and second half counter-punches rounded off by Steve Palmer and Scott Huckerby ultimately eclipsing replies by Simon Weatherstone and Ken Charlery. Otherwise Steve Evans' side made a reasonably good fist of things and unluckily missed out on chalking up back-to-back successes following the previous weekend's home win against Southport. The result still leaves faint doubts about United's survival ambitions, but many observers believe that further replications of this sort of performance will quickly bring about the required safety points target. At Telford, Boston got proceedings off to a bright start and carved out two good chances inside the first 10 minutes. First Colin Hoyle headed over the bar then a low drive from Weatherstone was well saved post by home keeper Ryan Price. But then in the 12th minute, the home side went ahead with a goal which began when Murphy embarked on a surging run. Bastock advanced from his area, but then retreated and forced MURPHY into a wide position. However, the Telford man still managed to squeeze home an acute angled shot despite the presence of Hoyle on the line. Boston replied with a good opening midway through the half when Lee Howarth chipped forward for Micky Nuttell to flick on to Peter Costello whose cross was rounded off by a shot from Simon Rusk which flashed wide. Boston grabbed an equaliser in the 28th minute when WEATHERSTONE cracked in a low shot from the edge-of-the-box with a free-kick. And just before the break, Boston had a great opportunity to go ahead. Weatherstone slid a pass through to Rusk, but Price dashed out to smother as the United midfielder attempted to round the keeper in a solo confrontation. Boston had a couple of brief attacking flurries in the opening phases of the second half with Rusk and Weatherstone both missing out when half-chances arose. However, it was Telford who enjoyed a lengthy spell of territorial advantage - with a cluster of excellent chances.

But thankfully for Boston, goalkeeper Bastock was in excellent form and pulled off a string of superb saves. First, in the 56th minute, Palmer threaded a pass through to Murphy. He powered down the middle and unleashed a shot which brought an outstanding stop from the Boston keeper. Then came a brace of home corners as more pressure was heaped on the Pilgrims' rearguard. The visitors managed to withstand the home attacking momentum with Howarth and Hoyle marshalling their ranks well. But still Telford maintained their forward-minded instincts with a drive from Palmer being held by Bastock. The Pilgrims had seemingly weathered the best Telford had to throw at them and then briefly responded with some good creative play from Rusk and Charlery. But, once more, there was no end product. And just when the things looked like settling down, the Boston back line was breached for a second time. Chris Malkin began the 72nd minute move with a good run, a neat passing inter-change with Lee Fowler and then a cross which PALMER converted. Boston boss Steve Evans threw on his full quota of substitutes in a bid to salvage some sort of reward from the encounter with the forward-minded talents of Jamie Cook, Andrew Stanhope and new signing David Town all being pitched into the action. With 12 minutes to go, superb work down the right by Cook led to an inviting cross which Rusk headed over. This was the trigger for more intensive pressure from Boston. First a Rusk flag-kick was hacked away by the home rearguard at the expense of another corner. And from Cook's set-piece Charlery sent a thunderous header against the bar. The ball was then scrambled off the line as the home goal led something of a charmed life. With Boston throwing caution to the wind, there was always a danger of a telling home counter-attack. And that is what happened on 86 minutes when HUCKERBY broke free and beat Bastock in a one-to-one confrontation to net his team's third goal. The Pilgrims, though, still showed commendable fortitude and might have pocketed a second goal with Rusk and Weatherstone both fizzing drives just off target. Their reward duly arrived in the second minute of stoppage time when home keeper Price completely misjudged a long throw-in from Rusk. The ball broke for CHARLERY and he slotted in. But it was too late to alter the overall outcome which, in the cold light of day, was probably a little harsh on the Pilgrims.

United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Gowshall, 3. Lucas (Stanhope 81), 4. Hoyle, 5. Howarth, 6. S. Weatherstone, 7. Rusk, 8. Charlery, 9. Nuttell (Town 77), 10. Costello (Cook 69), 11. Dick. Subs (not used): Lodge, Conroy (gk).

This report originally appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo.