Pilgrims 1-1 Rushden & Diamonds
This was the match that all Boston fans had been waiting for since the club's promotion to the Conference. How would the team fare against the big spending "Manchester United of the Conference", whose squad had cost more than £1 million to put together? The Minister of Sport; Kate Hoey, had also chosen to get a taste of Conference football by visiting York Street for this match. Along with the rest of Boston's biggest home crowd of the season, she was in for an excellent advertisement for the game at this level as both sets of supporters created a great atmosphere for the match. For the first quarter of an hour, Rushden dominated. Wave after wave of Rushden attacks pounded the Boston goal. In the muddy conditions Richard Lucas soon found his name in the referee's book when a sliding tackle slithered out of control. Duane Derby then came close to opening the scoring, but his shot was just wide of the left upright. Against the run of play, Boston then came close, when Simon Weatherstone forced a good save from Billy Turley in the Rushden goal. Jim Dick picked up his customary booking for dissent on the quarter hour. Paul Bastock then made a good save as Andrew Burgess tried to side foot the ball home. Boston then had their best chance of the half when a cross from the right, deep into the area found Jamie Cook, but he headed across the face of the goal and the ball went agonisingly wide. Mark Clifford then got booked in a carbon copy of Lucas's booking. This time the slide through the mud ended up with him clipping the ankle of Burgess.
The half finished with more Rushden pressure and Paul Bastock twice had to be on top form to deny Rushden. The start of the second half was fairly quiet. The only shot of note being a long range effort by Simon Weatherstone. Rushden went in front after 61 minutes. A cross from the left wing picked out Darby, who twisted past Ross Weatherstone, but scuffed his shot at goal. The ball bounced out to Jon Brady who slid the ball to his left into the path of Justin JACKSON to slot home. Rushden now took their foot off the pedal and decided to sit back and defend their lead. Boston now started to create many more goalscoring chances. First Simon Weatherstone saw a shot go just the wrong side of the post, then Mick Nuttell headed over the bar from a corner. Ross Weatherstone then came close with a bobbling shot that almost deceived the Rushden keeper. Andy Lodge then came on for the tiring Raynor, and the pressure increased on the Rushden goal. Ross Weatherstone blasted over following a corner and Ken Charlery somehow failed to make contact with a killer cross when in front of a gaping net. Just as it looked as if time would run out on the Pilgrims, they got their deserved equaliser. A free kick from near the half way line was back headed on by Nuttell to CHARLERY, who with his back to goal, kicked the ball over his own head into the net.
United team: 1. Bastock, 2. Clifford, 3. Lucas, 4. R Weatherstone, 5. Gowshall, 6. Dick, 7. S Weatherstone, 8. Charlery, 9. Nuttell (Elding 89), 10. Cook, 11. Raynor (Lodge 77). Subs not used: Hoyle, Diaf, Conroy.
Match report and photo copyright © Ken Fox, 2001.