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Wiseman and Gabrieli practise man-to-man marking

Pilgrims 0-1 Northampton Town

Coca Cola League

This was a game that both sides needed to win to keep their hopes of an eventual play-off place alive. On a heavy well sanded pitch it was always going to be difficult for either side to demonstrate their footballing skills. Boston had added problems. Grafting midfielder Chris Holland was missing - serving a one match suspension for accumulated bookings. Also, with five of his threadbare squad still out with injuries and Lee Beevers recently departed to Lincoln, manager Steve Evans had to utilise all of his recent loan-signings just to make up the required numbers on the team sheet. Northampton began the match playing some neat football, using short accurate passes and subtle changes of pace to create goal scoring opportunities. Long range efforts by David Rowson and Danny Crow both required good saves by Nathan Abbey. A promising run by Danny Thomas ended with him being scythed down by Luke Chambers, for which the Northampton defender received a booking. David Noble wasted the resulting free-kick with a poorly aimed delivery that was easily cleared. On the half hour Northampton striker Martin Smith was picked out with a great cross-field ball from Rowson that let him break free down the left wing. After cutting into the centre his final shot curled just wide of the right post. Five minutes later David Noble saw his shot from the left deflected over the bar for a corner. Danny Thomas curled the corner kick deep into the area and when the ball came down to Simon Rusk he placed his shot just wide. Boston finished the half with a flourish.

Lee Harper made a good save to parry Steven Boyack's effort and when the ball came out to Jason Lee he blasted the ball wide of the target. Sensing a possible victory Northampton piled on the pressure in the second half. Paul Ellender did well to intercept a header from Smith, but had to concede a corner. Abbey then made a fine leap to make a one handed save to deny Lee Williamson. Boston brought on all three allowed substitutes in quick succession in their search for something different that might prize open the Northampton defence. Scott Wiseman came on for David Noble, then Courney Pitt replaced Danny Thomas who was suffering from a thigh strain and finally Lee Thompson made his customary appearance from the bench in place of Dominic Roma. With the substitutions complete Northampton took the lead. A weak pass by Wiseman let the Cobbler's break forward and Martin SMITH strode through the Boston defence before firing home with a low drive from a tight angle on the left of goal. The goal knocked all the wind out of Boston's sails and it was Northampton who finished the game looking the most likely to score more goals. So Boston's poor home form in 2005 continues with only one win at York Street since the start of the year. After the match Steve Evans commented: "It always looked as if one goal would win the game either way. Some key players for us were missing today. We're still in there battling. If we win our game in hand then we're very much in it."

United team: Nathan Abbey, Dominic Roma (Lee Thompson 69), Austin McCann, Paul Ellender, Emanuele Gabrieli, Simon Rusk, Steven Boyack, David Noble (Scott Wiseman 61), Andy Kirk, Jason Lee, Danny Thomas (Courtney Pitt 66). Subs not used: David Staff, Stephen O'Donnell.

Match report and photograph copyright © Ken Fox, 2005.