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Leapy Lee

Pilgrims 2-1 Cambridge United

Coca Cola League

Both sides were able to parade new under-21 international signings for this game. On Thursday Boston United had agreed a deal with Scottish Premier League side Hibernian to bring Scotland under-21 striker Tam McManus to York Street on-loan. Cambridge United's new starter was Cameroon under-21 midfielder Mbome Kingsley, who joined them from French side GAP after receiving the required international clearances only minutes before the deadline for today's match. Kingsley started for Cambridge, while McManus had to sit on the subs' bench waiting for his debut. Cambridge were looking to maintain their perfect League record against Boston at York Street having won both the previous two encounters. Paul Gascoigne started his second League match for Boston and was soon showing that most of the footballing talent he once possessed has long since gone, only surfacing in occasional fits and starts. This was first evident after just six minutes when Boston won a free-kick outside the area and Gascoigne''s effort was so poor, it was difficult to work out whether it was a shot or a cross gone wrong as it sailed into the crowd. He almost redeemed himself two minutes later when he set up Tom Bennett, but the Scottish midfielder's shot went just wide. On the quarter hour Cambridge came within a whisker of taking the lead. Kingsley produced a great through ball that set Jermaine Easter free down the right. He outpaced Paul Ellender and fired in a shot that Nathan Abbey just managed to deflect across the face of the goal for a corner. Boston now applied the pressure in search of an opening goal. A long range shot from Bennett required a save from the Cambridge keeper, then Jason Lee turned and shot from the edge of the area only to see the ball hit the post. LEE put Boston in front five minutes before the interval with a powerful header that the keeper just got his fingers to, but could only deflect the ball into the top left hand corner of the goal.

Just before half-time Cambridge almost equalised through Easter. His first shot hit the post and his second was tipped over by Nathan Abbey. Four minutes into the second half Cambridge levelled the scores. The goal had an element of luck as EASTER's drive bounced off a prostrate player and looped high over Abbey before dropping in the net. With no defenders on the bench, when Mark Greaves had to leave the pitch after apparently being kicked in the head by a high challenge, midfielder Lee Thompson came on in his place. For the second match running, Paul Gascoigne was very lucky to remain on the pitch when a retaliatory blow resulted in a yellow rather than a red card. Tam McManus made his debut on 65 minutes when he swapped places with Danny Thomas. He made a very impressive start, looking sharp and inventive with bags of pace. End to end football began to be played. First Beevers saw a header go just wide, then at the other end Darren Quinton wasted a golden opportunity by screwing his shot wide when a mistake by Gascoigne gifted him a clear sight of goal. With three minutes remaining Boston produced a killer blow. A half clearance of a Boston attack down the left wing came out to Austin MCCANN and the defender fired the ball back towards the goal and saw it creep into the top left corner just out of reach of the Cambridge keeper. With four minutes of injury time there was still time for a couple of superb efforts to round off a highly entertaining game. First Zema Abbey had a great chance to secure the points when he broke clear with only the keeper to beat, but his second touch let him down allowing the keeper to gratefully grab the ball. Then right at the death Quinton fired in a shot that went like an arrow towards to bottom right hand corner, but Nathan Abbey made an outstanding diving save.

United team: Nathan Abbey, Lee Beevers, Austin McCann, Mark Greaves (Lee Thompson 57), Paul Ellender, Paul Gascoigne, Tom Bennett (Courtney Pitt 72), Chris Holland, Zema Abbey, Jason Lee, Danny Thomas (Tam McManus 65). Subs not used: Simon Rusk, Martin Carruthers.

Match report and photograph copyright © Ken Fox, 2004.