Pilgrims 1-2 Rushden & Diamonds
Boston finished their pre-season schedule with a damp squib of a game played under the gloomy skies of a typical English summer. The big spenders of the Conference had more than enough skill to quash Boston's attacks. This was clear early on when new signing David Norris intercepted a poor pass out of the Rushden defence and broke through down the left. With only the keeper to beat he fired in a bullet of a shot only to see it saved by an acrobatic leap by Billy Turley in the Rushden goal. Similarly another good save was made when Paul Wilson played some nice football down the left wing culminating with a fierce shot at goal. Mark Rawle, playing against his old club, had two attempts at goal in the first half. The first was a flicked header that was easily dealt with. For the second, he got his long, lanky legs round a Rushden defender only to shoot just wide. At the other end Tim Wooding shot just over ten minutes from the end of the half. For the second period Rushden stepped up a gear and began to put the Pilgrims under considerable pressure. They brought on David Town in place of Wooding and the effect was immediate. After tussling with Colin Hoyle, Diamonds striker Michael MISON was fouled on the left edge of the area. He then got on the end of the resulting free kick from Paul Underwood to put Rushden in front.
Town then started causing havoc down the right wing. A few minutes after forcing two good saves from Paul Bastock, he beat Paul Wilson then sent in a perfect cross for SALE to slot in. The Pilgrims got a consolation penalty 15 minutes from the end, which Paul WILSON slammed past the keeper. The Pilgrims made four second half substitutions, Melson, Sedlam, Slinn and Leigh Taylor replacing Gowshall, Stanhope, Rawle and Nuttell, but they never really looked like getting an equalising goal.
A loss to a side as good as Rushden and Diamonds in a pre-season friendly shouldn't set any alarm bells ringing. Steve Evans has now seen enough of his new squad to be able to put together a side to challenge for the Dr. Martens League title. If Brian Talbot's Diamonds keep playing the way they did today then they will be in the Third Division next season, vindicating their position as the bookies favourites for promotion.
United team: 1. Paul Bastock, 2. Joby Gowshall, 3. Paul Wilson, 4. Colin Hoyle, 5. Peter Costello, 6. David Rennie, 7. Andrew Stanhope, 8. Gary Porter, 9. Mickey Nuttell, 10. Mark Rawle, 11. David Norris, 12. Mark Melson, 14. Jason Sedlam, 15. Kevin Slinn, 16. Leigh Taylor.