Macclesfield Town 3-0 Boston United
by Barbara Singleton
Boston United reserved one of their most inept performances of the season for arguably the day which had the most potential glamour attached to it. Numerous injury concerns certainly didn't help the Pilgrims' cause. But they still had 11 men out on the park against a Macclesfield side who clearly packed the sort of resolve and determination so sadly lacking in the United ranks. As a consequence Boston simply tossed away the opportunity of a vital money-spinning run in the FA Cup. Apart from the constant urgings of keeper Paul Bastock and the reasonably polished defensive displays from Stuart Balmer, Mark Greaves and especially Lee Beevers, it was difficult to pinpoint any other names to emerge with any sort of credit. Macclesfield started brightly, might have had a couple of goals early on and then regularly ripped Boston apart with some swift attacking play at various stages over the remainder of the piece. The Pilgrims only fleetingly suggested they were likely to find any sort of foothold on proceedings and finished a well beaten outfit - a fact which hugely disappointed the loyal 377 travelling fans at Moss Rose. Boston had a let-off in the third minute when Matthew Tipton saw a low effort gathered on the line by Bastock. Tipton then dragged an effort just wide of Bastock's upright after Whitaker had threaded a ball down the middle. And Macclesfield went close again in the 13th minute when Colin Little cracked an 18-yarder against the bar from George Abbeys cross. Then, Tipton drilled over from 12 yards after collecting Danny Adams pull-back. Boston didn't seem to learn from this early salvo and duly fell behind in the 20th minute when Martin Carruthers saw a shot loop over Bastock via a huge deflection off the unlucky Chris Hogg, after Tom Bennett had given the ball away in midfield. Boston finally awoke and went close in the 23rd minute when Paul Ellender - again used in attack - headed into the side-netting from Graham Potter's free-kick.
Moments later, Ellender fired wide from a Bennett pass. In response, Bastock kept his side in the match when making a fine low save to deny Carruthers. And Macc almost netted again just as the first half ended when Whitaker blazed a 20-yarder into Bastocks arms after Boston had cheaply lost possession. The second half was slightly better for the Pilgrims, with Peter Duffield heading off target from Lee Beevers centre early on. However, the turning point arrived on the hour when Redfearn swung over a corner from the left-hand side. Ellender rose highest to meet the ball and saw his effort headed off the line by Colin Little before Steve Wilson did well to gather Mark Greaves' follow-up. The subsequent counter-attack saw Macc double their lead, when Carruthers headed home Whitakers right-wing centre. The Pilgrims sought a reply and Stuart Douglas was sent on to join Duffield and Ellender in attack, with right-back Hogg withdrawn. But the change failed to deliver a cutting edge and despite enjoying periods of possession, Boston never really had a clear-cut opportunity to get on the scoresheet until the final few minutes. And even then the best highlight came from defender Beevers who fired wide after a mazy and determined 40-yard run that put most of his colleagues to shame. With Boston streaming forward in numbers, Macc exploited gaps at the back and the Pilgrims were grateful to Bastock for keeping the score down, with fine saves to thwart Carruthers and Tipton. United substitute Daryl Sutch almost got Boston a goal, but his firm 25-yarder was well held aside by Wilson. And Macclesfield wrapped up the win in the 90th minute, when Little smashed the ball home from 12 yards, after Carruthers had seen two efforts blocked - the opening having originally stemmed from a woeful attempted back-pass by Matt Hocking, an incident which largely summed up United's appalling day.
United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Hogg (Douglas 62), Greaves, Balmer (Hocking 79), Beevers; Redfearn, L Thompson, Bennett, Potter (Sutch 79); Duffield, Ellender. Subs (not used): Chapman, Croudson (gk).