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Tackle from behind

Pilgrims 1-0 Bristol Rovers

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

Debutant winger Danny Thomas was Boston United’s hero in a gale-lashed encounter. His 38th minute curling free-kick helped to hoist the Pilgrims into mid-table respectability and in the process heaped more pressure on rivals Bristol Rovers in the relegation battle. Thomas, signed from Bournemouth, was one of two new recruits on parade for the Pilgrims with Steve Melton (from) Hull also being drafted into the midfield zone on the right. And the pair played their parts as United netted their third win in five outings since Steve Evans returned to the managerial seat. In this encounter, Boston played with the assistance of a forceful first half wind, elements which frequently prevented Bristol from fully clearing their lines. As early as the 16th second, midfielder David Noble fired a scorching drive straight at Rovers’ keeper Kevin Miller. Then on eight minutes Miller could scarcely believe his luck when the ball dropped straight into his clutches after Graeme Jones’ header from a Thomas cross had rebounded off the inside of a post. Bristol’s first reply was a 14th minute drive from Graham Hyde which Paul Bastock held well. But it was generally a case of Boston holding the upper hand. And Miller was again in the action when holding a shot from Melton on 32 minutes before diving bravely to save at the feet of Jones who sought to convert a cross from the right by Stuart Douglas.

Boston finally got their reward seven minutes before the break when Melton was tripped by Rob Quinn and THOMAS curled a left-footed 20-yard set-piece low past a disjointed Rovers wall and past an unsighted Miller. After the break Bristol had the advantage of the elements but still were not as dominant in the second half as Boston had been in the opening 45 minutes. The visitors, though, went close on 51 minutes when Christian Edwards flashed a header just over the bar from a Gary Twigg corner. Boston lost the services of Jones with a calf injury, but substitute Lee Thompson almost made a quick impact but blasted wildly too high from a Thomas free-kick. Back at the other end, Rovers went close again on 68 minutes when Bastock had to stretched to claim possession as Paul Tait and Junior Agogo tried to mett a Twigg cross. In reply, Douglas met another Thomas free-kick in the 71st minute but headed too high. Bristol answered with a close call from Adam Barrett but his snap-shot from distance flew over. On 83 minutes Boston almost settled the issue when Thomas burst clear down the left and forced Miller into a stretching save. And moments later Douglas got into a threatening position only to see Miller again save well. Right at the death Bristol seemed nailed on for an equaliser when Tait found space just inside the home area, but Bastock made a great blocking save with his legs to deny the Rovers’ front man his 11th goal of the season and preserve the Pilgrims’ slender, but crucial, lead.

United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Beevers, Ellender, Greaves, Chapman; Melton, Bennett, Noble, Thomas, Jones (Thompson 48), Douglas. Subs (not used): Croudson, Brown, Hocking, Angel.

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