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Len Curtis sticks close to Leroy

Pilgrims 2-0 Altrincham

FA "Umbro" Trophy

Boston have played against Altrincham many times in the past when they have been in the same league. In the match today Boston were in a different league both actually and metaphorically. In what looked on paper like a tough match, they totally outplayed an Altrincham side that are topping the Unibond League table. I don't think the match referee will be getting many marks for his performance by either side's club secretary. He attempted to stamp his authority on the game by booking Paul Watts for an innocuous challenge on the keeper after just four minutes. Later decisions were often bizarre, incensing supporters on both sides. The first fifteen minutes were fairly even, both sides seeing long range shots go just wide. Boston then began to take control. Ian Stringfellow had a good run through the Altrincham defence before threading a pass to Matt Carmichael whose shot was deflected for a corner. Two minutes later Boston went into the lead. Costello won a corner after beating the offside trap and sending in a wicked cross. WATTS then nodded in the corner after it was flicked on at the near post by Len Curtis. Altrincham had a great chance to get back into the game a few minutes later. Former Pilgrim Leroy Chambers latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area and while the Boston defence were appealing for the offside flag that never came, he darted forward with only Paul Bastock to beat, who pulled off an incredible save to deny him. Mayhem broke out on the half hour. First Peter Costello got booked for dissent, then former Gainsborough defender Paul Ellender's name followed Costello's into the referee's book for a bad tackle. A minute later Ellender felled Andrew Stanhope with a forearm smash right in front of the linesman. With the crowd baying for blood the referee awarded a drop ball.

Altrincham forward Mark Ward also got booked before Steve Charles almost increased Boston's lead with a long range shot just before the half time whistle. The second half started with more Boston pressure. Watts won a corner from which two goal-line clearances were required to maintain the status quo. In a split second of insanity, Altrincham's Keith Russel then threw away the game. Going down after a tussle with Len Curtis both players became entangled. Russell then emulated David Beckham and pushed over Curtis as they got to their feet. The referee had no option but to dismiss Russell for retaliation. Altrincham then quickly used all their substitutes, including the replacement of Chambers who had picked up a knock in the first half. The fresh legs gave the Pilgrims a few scares before Man-of-the-Match WATTS put the result beyond any doubt by lobbing Coburn in the Altrincham goal with a chip shot from the edge of the area. Richard Mason then nearly rounded off an excellent performance with a screamer of a shot that had to be tipped over the bar by the keeper. The game finished with a couple more bookings, one for Carmichael the other for Paul Roberts, before reserve team marksman Neil Featherstone made one of his surprisingly rare first team appearances, coming on for Carmichael for the last five minutes.

United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Len Curtis, 4. Ian Stringfellow, 5. Martin Hardy, 6. Steve Charles, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Peter Costello, 9. Matt Carmichael, 10. Paul Watts, 11. Richard Mason, 12. Darren Clyde, 14. Dave Venables, 15. Neil Featherstone, 16. Danny Seager, 17. Nick Maddison.