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Joby in the thick of it

Pilgrims 0-1 Grimsby Town

Lincolnshire County Cup

Once again United are losing Quarter Finalists in the Lincolnshire County Cup, but they put in a very creditable performance and were only beaten by a late late goal at the end of extra-time. It was certainly much better than last year's drubbing at the hands of Lincoln United. There was only one unfamiliar face in the Boston line-up. Brian Horseman, a highly rated recent try-out from Gresley Rovers, was playing in Greg Fee's position in the defence, while Fee himself only wore his manager's hat, taking notes and relaying instructions from the touchline. New signing Darren Munton was playing up front, supplied by Simon Armstrong and Richard Mason on the wings. Another ex-Pilgrim, Darren Clyde, also started the game, relegating Martin Hardy to the subs bench. The only notable absentee was last season's top scorer Steve Charles, who is still out injured. In the first half, if you didn't know otherwise, you could easily have thought that Boston were the First Division side and Grimsby the part-timers. The Pilgrims' domination was so great that Paul Bastock didn't touch the ball until near the end of the first half when Grimsby's No. 9 Andrew Oakes shot straight at him. The first half started with lots of Boston pressure. Richard Mason and Simon Armstrong were carrying out successful raids down the wings and Joby Gowshall was getting well forward into attacking positions. After twelve minutes Mason broke through down the left and his cross was met by Gowshall who fired over. Andrew Stanhope then got into the act with a couple of long range shots that were only just wide. Steve Appleby also had a pot at goal from the edge of the area, which was only inches too high. Late in the half Boston had two more good chances. First Gowshall had a clear run down the right wing and fired in a cross that just defeated the incoming forwards and was forced behind for a corner. Then Armstrong turned provider for Gowshall, whose curling shot was saved. The second half was used by both sides to try out new options. Grimsby started to look more dangerous and had a couple near misses. On fifty five minutes there was a mixup in the Boston defence but Grimsby could only shoot into the side netting. Five minutes later and Paul Bastock made a good save as Oakes headed a Darren Wrack cross at him from point blank range.

Boston had a great chance of going into the lead when Munton was put in the clear, but he shot tamely at the goalkeeper. Twenty minutes into the half Horseman and Stanhope were replaced by Curtis and Watts, then Grimsby brought on Goodhand for Chapman. With fifteen minutes left Martin Hardy replaced Darren Clyde and Grimsby replaced Steadman with Pritchard. After ninety minutes the match was still goalless so the game went into extra-time. Boston's best two chances of breaking the deadlock in extra-time fell to Watts, both from Mason crosses. For the first his glancing header required a great save from Andy Love to push it over the bar. For the second he fired over the top of the Town End Stand from six yards out. Grimsby's winner came three minutes from the end with a real sucker punch. Curtis fouled a Grimsby player on the edge of the box and while the Boston defence argued about the decision Grimsby took the free kick, rolling the ball out to Darren WRACK who shot past Paul Bastock's despairing dive. So what can we learn from this game. The most obvious thing is that we are still missing a quality striker to put away all the chances we are creating. It is a little early to say whether Darren Munton will be another Paul Cavell, but he certainly needs to sharpen up if he is going to start scoring goals. Paul Watts had one flash of brilliance amongst a hatful of wasted chances and Simon Armstrong only shone during the first half and rather fizzled out in the second. The defence looked very solid and were rarely troubled. Chris Withe in particular was almost back to his best form. In midfield, Stanhope and Marshall often provided killer passes which split open the defence and Appleby battled away as usual. If all the players on display today sign up for the full season and we find a good striker from somewhere we should have the makings of a promotion chasing side.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Chris Withe, 4. Brian Horseman, 5. Darren Clyde, 6. Danny Marshall, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Steve Appleby, 9. Darren Munton, 10. Simon Armstrong, 11. Richard Mason, 12. Martin Hardy, 14. Len Curtis, 15. Mark Melson, 16. Paul Watts, 17. Simon Bailey.