Burton Albion 0-2 Pilgrims
Dr Martens League
There were a few changes to the usual line-up for this game. Martin Hardy was missing, so Len Curtis took over the captain's role. Richard Mason returned from injury, Steve Charles from suspension and Dave Venables was preferred over Paul Watts up-front. It was also good to see Chris Withe warming up with the team before the start. Clearly he is well on the road to recovery after the operation to trim his cartilages. Burton stuck with the side that had won their previous four games, including their manager, ex-England international Nigel Clough, up front.
The 2-0 scoreline was slightly flattering but the Pilgrims just about deserved the win that gave them their first "double" of the season. It was a rather scrappy game, which started in bright sunshine on a deceptively slippery pitch due to the heavy overnight rain.
Boston took the lead after just three minutes when Gary CHILDS latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the area and fired in a well placed shot that beat the keeper and just crept in on the right side of the post. Not surprisingly the goal spurred the Brewers into action and it wasn't long before a long range shot beat Paul Bastock but just clipped the top of the upright to go behind for a goal kick. At the other end a goalmouth scramble nearly resulted in another Boston goal, but Andrew Stanhope just failed to get to the ball in time to tap the ball in before it was cleared off the goalline. Paul Bastock then had a touch of luck when he slipped while trying to get behind a tame shot, but recovered in time to avoid embarrassment. On twenty minutes Burton's Darren Stride strode through the heart of the Boston defence, but his eventual shot was well saved. In the final fifteen minutes Burton piled on the pressure, winning a succession of corners but couldn't find an equaliser.
The start of the second half saw Boston applying the pressure. First Andrew Stanhope broke down the right and put in a cross which Venables slid into the net, but the celebrations were cut short by the linesman's flag for offside. Boston then won four corners in as many minutes but failed to capitalise. On the hour Burton won a free kick on the left edge of the area, but the kick was deflected behind for a corner. Five minutes later Boston won a free kick on the edge of the area when Childs was fouled. Stanhope's first shot was blocked and the second shot went just over the bar. Stanhope then got booked for an innocuous looking tackle, but the punishment was probably for cumulative offences rather than specific. The last fifteen minutes saw three substitutions. Paul Watts came on for an injured Curtis, resulting in Carmichael dropping back into defence. Then Gary Walters came on for a tiring Venables. Burton also brought on Francis for Marsden. The game finished with a lucky Boston goal. A punt out of defence put a suspiciously offside Gary Walters in the clear. After being forced wide by Nick Goodwin in the Burton goal, the ball was centered to Paul WATTS to head home.
So in their hectic festive schedule the Pilgrims have picked up a useful ten points out of twelve. If they can keep up this performance level they might even be challenging Nuneaton for the League title come May.
United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Len Curtis, 4. Ian Stringfellow, 5. Darren Clyde, 6. Steve Charles, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Gary Childs, 9. Matt Carmichael, 10. David Venables, 11. Richard Mason, 12. Gareth Jelleyman, 14. Gary Walters, 15. Paul Watts