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Ellender gets ready

Pilgrims 3-1 Macclesfield Town

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

Goals from strike trio Graeme Jones, Adam Boyd and Stuart Douglas propelled Boston United to three crucial Third Division points. The win enhanced still further the Pilgrims’ solid home form credentials and helped bring about a welcome climb to 15th spot in the table. And, apart from a few phases of tidy Macclesfield attacking play, United were good value for their success - one which went some way to avenging a woeful FA Cup exit at the hands of the Silkmen in November. In this encounter, the Pilgrims started brightly with manager Neil Thompson sticking to the adventurous 3-4-3 formation which has served reasonably well of late - this time with veteran warhorse Neil Redfearn being asked to shoulder an attacking burden. And in typical fashion, “Redders” met the challenge head-on with a powerful display and one in which his never-say-die attitude was an inspiration to the side. There were good performances all round, particular in the flank positions where Lee Beevers and the recalled Graham Potter turned in impressive shows. All three helped to spark Boston into a lively start, the highlight of which was a ninth minute Redfearn strike which flew inches too high after a pass inside by Potter. United’s ascendancy yielded a breakthrough on 14 minutes. Tom Bennett spread possession out to Beevers and his cross was nodded down at the far post by Paul Ellender for JONES to stab in. After that, Macclesfield began to get their act together. Matthew Tipton fired off target on 19 minutes and moments later Chris Priest whacked a drive goalwards only to see Paul Bastock pull off a good save. Boston hit back and Boyd got down the left and crossed to Jones. But his close-range effort was smothered by Steve Wilson. Almost immediately Bastock was in action again when making a sprawling save from a fierce drive by Michael Welch.

But United ended the first period with another lift when they doubled their lead. It came on 39 minutes when BOYD showed superb control to bring down a lofted pass from Beevers and then wriggled into the box before slotting past Wilson. The Pilgrims almost added a third six minutes into the second half when Potter and Boyd linked well down the left. The ball was fed inside to Redfearn but his ambitious outside-of-the-boot lob came back off Wilson’s bar and Jones fired the rebound wide. Macclesfield lifted their own game tempo again and frequently looked dangerous with Colin Little and Tipton both showing plenty of inventiveness in possession.. The latter went close with a curling shot that drifted inches wide. But on 61 minutes Macclesfield halved the deficit with a goal which will probably rival Ellender’s strike against Huddersfield as being among the best seen at York Street this season. Full-back Danny Adams got down the left and his cross appeared to have been headed away by Mark Greaves. But LITTLE, 20-yards from goal, latched onto the dropping ball with real venom and dispatched a dipping volley into the top corner of the Boston net. Seven minutes later it was Little who went close again, but this time drove straight at Bastock from just outside the area. Manager Thompson opted to reshuffle his pack to contain the renewed Macclesfield threat and bolster his own team’s attacking invention by introducing Peter Duffield and Stuart DOUGLAS. And it was the latter who put the icing on Boston’s cake when slotting past Wilson in the 77th minute to round off a sweeping move involving Bennett and Potter. That strike put the issue beyond doubt and Macclesfield’s hopes of a late recovery were totally scuppered when Adams got his marching orders in the 87th minute for a reckless foul on Simon Rusk.

United team (3-4-3): Bastock; Greaves, Ellender, Balmer; Beevers, Bennett, Rusk, Potter; Boyd, Redfearn (Duffield 69), Jones (Douglas 69). Subs (not used): Angel, Hogg, Croudson (gk).

Match report copyright © Barbara Singleton, 2004. Photograph copyright © Ken Fox, 2004.