Boston United 0-0 Nottingham Forest
by Pete Brooksbank
An admittedly truncated East Midlands Festival of Football didn't prove to quite have the pulling power Boston United might have expected for the visit of fallen giants Nottingham Forest yesterday, although the few Boston fans that did attend were treated to an interesting and even contest alongside promising performances from Julian Joachim and Lee Canoville.
Forest fans spilled from a packed, noisy Town End and were to be found mingling all around York Street as they sought their first glimpse of Gary Megson's re-shaped squad. In truth, they will probably have left the 0-0 draw with more questions than answers having witnessed their team put in a distinctly average performance - this after Megson's furious demand for improvement following their poor Danish tour. Forest, as expected, named their strongest team, the only absentee of note being Kris Commons, and gave transfer listed striker David Johnson a start ahead of new prospect Spencer Weir-Daley.
The first half was typical pre-season fare. The only notable chance came from a fabulous Julian Joachim turn and cross, the ball met by Jason Lee who saw his effort parried by Forest keeper Paul Gerrard. Forest fans will no doubt have been somewhat concerned as Boston repeatedly exposed new left-back Gino Padula. The Argentinean struggled to cope with an excellent Brad Maylett, his distribution was hurried and he lacked pace.
Noel Whelen replaced Jason Lee at half time and was soon tussling with Forest defender Wes Morgan. Whelan spent much of the half berating referee Andrew Woolmer for failing to penalise Morgan, not exactly endearing himself to Pilgrims followers. Ben Futcher's limitations were also exposed by Forest as he tired, but neither player could hope to match poor David Johnson.
Fourteen minutes into the second half, Johnson took advantage of a rare error from Lee Canoville and found himself clean through with only Nathan Abbey to face. With the goal at his mercy, Johnson - who could well have been distracted by the blue tinge of the damaged section of turf - somehow stood on the ball. Ross Gardner's follow-up strike drifted comfortably wide, leaving a vocal contingent of Forest supporters to berate their one-time hero.
Forest carved out a couple of decent efforts courtesy of Gareth Taylor, his header flashing wide minutes before forcing Abbey to make a save with a decent left foot strike. Perhaps the most promising performance of the afternoon was from Forest youngster Spencer Weir-Daley, who looked far more threatening than David Johnson, whom he replaced on 67 minutes. The youngster was more than a handful for the Pilgrims as the match drew to its inevitable conclusion.
Pilgrims followers will have been impressed by Canoville, Joachim and also the authoritative Gavin Johnson. Noel Whelan requires more match practice, as does Ben Futcher. Daryl Clare had little time to impress, but his enthusiastic running will have restored some belief that he can be effective as a League Two player.
Boston cannot claim to be operating under as much expectation as Forest but both sets of fans expect success this season. On first impressions only - however unreliable these can be - United may be more likely to fulfil their ambitions. Boston Man of the Match: Gavin Johnson.
Boston United: Nathan Abbey, Lee Canoville (Alan White 80), Austin McCann, Ben Futcher (Paul Ellender 85), Mark Greaves, Gavin Johnson (David Noble 60), Stuart Talbot (Simon Rusk 70), Brad Maylett (Danny Thomas 70), Chris Holland, Julian Joachim (Daryl Clare 60), Jason Lee (Noel Whelan 46). Sub not used: Scott Howie.
Nottingham Forest: Paul Gerrard, Nicky Eaden, Wes Morgan, Ian Breckin, Gino Padula, Nicky Southall, David Friio, Ross Gardner, Eugen Bopp, Gareth Taylor, David Johnson (Spencer Weir-Daley 68).