Pilgrims 5-2 Hornchurch
by Pete Brooksbank
A rousing second-half performance eased Boston United through the first round of the FA Cup against a poor Hornchurch team on Saturday. Strikes from Tam McManus, David Noble, Paul Ellender and Lee Thompson were enough to see off the Conference South leaders and give Boston their first FA Cup victory for five years. It was comfortable enough in the end, and United weren’t at all flattered by their five goals, but Boston actually contrived to trail at the break, leaving some fans fearful of another day of Cup disappointment. Thankfully, the Pilgrims eventually got into their stride and, once they did, outplayed and outfought their unfortunate opponents by a considerable margin to book their place in the second round. Not that Boston played badly for the first 45 minutes. They restricted The Urchins to just one notable chance, albeit one that they managed to convert; a sixth minute Steve CASTLE free-kick that somehow evaded Nathan Abbey and stunned York Street into silence. Boston soon began to dominate possession and were almost level three minutes after Castle’s goal when the lively Danny Thomas volleyed straight at Nigerian keeper Abiodun Baruwa, who then minutes later almost fumbled Andy Kirk’s low effort into the net. Lee Thompson then spurned two good opportunities, first forcing a smart stop from Baruwa and then slicing a close range shot wide with several Pilgrims queuing up in the Hornchurch area. At 1-0 up, The Urchins were happy to play the game at their own pace, Baruwa earning a deserved booking from referee Ray Olivier for persistent time wasting. On 35 minutes Boston were dealt a blow when Andy Kirk pulled up with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by fellow Scotsman Tam McManus as Boston hunted for their elusive equaliser.
Lee Thompson wasted another good chance before the break, his shot well saved after he had managed to escape his marker. McManus then saw an ambitious strike sail onto the Town End as the Pilgrims hunted for a lucky break in front of goal. Boston’s fortunes changed soon after half-time and they began to pull the trigger. The long awaited leveller arrived on 48 minutes when THOMPSON blasted home after the Hornchurch defence failed to clear a loose ball. Then, just a minute later, McMANUS gave Boston a deserved lead, another loose ball causing the visitors all kinds of problems before the on-loan striker found the net. McManus was soon in the thick of the action once more; on 51 minutes Simon Downer's ugly tackle on him left the front-man in a heap and Downer making the short trip to the dressing room. Boston, now sensing a rout, piled forward and on 67 minutes had their reward. Jason Lee flicked on Nathan Abbey’s long punt allowing McMANUS to race clear and coolly finish. At this point, The Urchins looked in danger of being overwhelmed and were struggling to escape their own half, but Boston were in generous mood and gifted them an incredibly soft goal with twelve minutes remaining. Terry EVERETT, in a rare foray forward, dispossessed the over-elaborate Nathan Abbey and raced past the flailing keeper to make it 3-2, Abbey earning a yellow card for a futile lunge on Everett in the process. But any fears that Boston were in danger of throwing away their good work were dispelled two minutes later when David NOBLE slotted a Lee Thompson pass past Baruwu. Paul ELLENDER then secured the win on 89 minutes, nodding home a David Noble free-kick.
United team: Nathan Abbey, Lee Beevers, Austin McCann, Dean West, Paul Ellender, Mark Greaves, David Noble (Simon Rusk 89), Lee Thompson, Andy Kirk (Tam McManus 36), Jason Lee (Rob Norris 90), Danny Thomas. Subs not used: Greg Strong, Steve Melton.