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Please sir, is that a dive?

Pilgrims 4-0 Torquay United

Nationwide League

by Barbara Singleton

Four goals without reply is always a welcome return for any club. And Boston United certainly revelled in the glory of success by this margin at the expense of high-flying Torquay. The Pilgrims turned in a superb display of tenacious and determined football laced with a fair degree of skill to register their best victory of the campaign so far. An early goal of vintage proportions from midfielder Neil Redfearn undoubtedly helped to fuel confidence. And second half strikes from Lee Thompson and two late efforts by substitute Peter Duffield merely served to overwhelm the Devon side. It wasn’t, though, an overriding case of one-way traffic as Torquay produced some slick passing moves at regular phases in the game and were arguably unlucky not to have got on the scoresheet. But thanks to some good saves by keeper Paul Bastock and a home defence well marshalled by Stuart Balmer and Mark Greaves, Boston remained resolute. The afternoon’s drama was almost kick-started inside the first minute when Simon Weatherstone saw a fierce drive blocked on the line by Craig Taylor after a Redfearn free-kick had caused problems in the Gulls’ back division. But in the fourth minute Boston went ahead when REDFEARN caught Dearden unaware with a 25-yard snap-shot which rocketed into the top of the net. Torquay, though, answered positively - initially with a scuffed shot from Kevin Hill, but then with a more direct effort when, on 18 minutes, Jo Kuffour broke free, rounded Paul Bastock and bore down on goal only for his final effort to be blocked by Greaves.

Then in the 29th minute David Graham weaved clear of three Boston defenders only to fire across goal and wide of the far post. And just before the break the same player found space to fire in a looping shot from distance which bounced away off the top of the home bar. In between, the Pilgrims replied when Thompson accepted the end product of good build-up play between Bayo Akinfewna and Graeme Jones but fired inches too high when the ball was fed into his path. After the interval Torquay opened brightly and Kuffour somehow fluffed a chance when bundling wide a cross from Graham. Boston hit back and only a desperate foul challenge by Jason Fowler (at the expense of a booking) prevented Akinfenwa from breaking through. But on 61 minutes, the Pilgrims doubled their lead when THOMPSON seized possession on the edge of the Gull’s “D” and unleashed a left-foot shot which deflected off Steve Woods and looped over the stranded Dearden. Torquay, though, continued to play good possession football and twice in a few minutes Graham saw shots blocked by Balmer and Bastock. But with the visitors pressing forward in a bid to retrieve the situation, the Pilgrims cashed in fully in the final 10 minutes - much to the delight of substitute Duffield. First he got on the end of a Redfearn cross, but headed just wide. But 60 seconds later DUFFIELD hit the target when pouncing to score from close range after Dearden had spilled a forceful edge-of-the-box drive from Weatherstone. Then in stoppage time Thompson fed a pass through for DUFFIELD to race clear before sliding the ball past an exposed Dearden to complete Boston’s rout.

United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Hogg, Balmer, Greaves, Beevers; Redfearn, L Thompson, Ellender, Weatherstone; Jones (Duffield 75), Akinfenwa (Douglas 85). Subs (not used): Croudson (gk), Rusk, Clarke.

Match report copyright © Barbara Singleton, 2003. Photo copyright © Ken Fox 2003.