Leyton Orient 1-3 Pilgrims
by Barbara Singleton
Two stoppage time goals fired Boston United into the top 10 of the Third Division. But although their victory over Leyton Orient was achieved at the last-gasp stage, the Pilgrims still fully merited the final outcome. And in the overall assessment goals from Lee Beevers, David Noble and Lee Thompson eclipsed what was, at one point, a likely late equaliser by Andy Scott. Uniteds win was constructed on the platform of sound defensive work and eventually laced by some purposeful finishing. But the win was achieved after a somewhat turgid opening 45 minutes when neither side really managed to create much in the way of clear-cut openings. Boston had to withstand a degree of home pressure in the first few minutes. But first Paul Bastock produced a good save to deny Gary Alexander and then Wayne Purser got round the visitors rearguard but failed to make anything of what looked a decent opening. On the quarter-hour, Alexander again had a half-chance, but his miscued effort dropped straight into Bastocks arms. Boston looked efficient at the back, notably with Paul Ellender and Mark Greaves marshalling their colleagues well, while in midfield Simon Rusk on the right and Danny Thomas on the opposite flank worked hard to create openings. It was Thomas who had Bostons first real chance on 20 minutes, but his free-kick from distance got past the home wall but drifted straight into the grasp of keeper Glenn Morris. Six minutes later Kevan Hurst, Steve Melton and Thomas linked well and set up Graeme Jones, but he saw a snap shot charged down. Back at the other end, home full-back Matt Lockwood broke down the left and chipped into the Boston box. The ball broke for Donny Barnard but he was unable to profit from the opportunity. On 35 minutes Barnard broke down the wing but his attempted cross dropped tamely onto the top of Bastocks net.
Boston went close to breaking the deadlock in the 39th minute when Hurst seized possession down the left and cut inside before unleashing a low shot which Morris held well. Just before the break, Orient pressed again in tentative fashion, but Alexanders optimistic shot flew well off target. Orient enjoyed a spell of pressure early in the second half and first Ben Chapman had to cover round and clear one moment of danger before an Alexander shot flashed inches past a post. Then on the hour, Chapman lost out to Warren Hunt but, in keeping with much of Orients below-par finishing, he completely fluffed his chance to deliver a telling cross. Boston hit back and on 61 minutes Noble drilled a 20-yard free-kick straight at Morris. In reply Alexander again when close for Orient. But on 67 minutes Boston went ahead. Good work down the right by Rusk produced a corner and from Thomas flag-kick delivery the ball flicked on by Greaves, parried by Morris and forced home from close range by BEEVERS. Both sides then had brief moments when chances almost materialised - the best for Boston seeing Jones shoot wide on 84 minutes. However, three minutes from time Orient levelled when Scott pounced on a rare moment of United defensive uncertainty. Bastock mis-punched an attempted clearance with Beevers in close attendance. The pairs mix-up allowed Scott to drill home. But creditably, Boston remained positive and regained the lead on 90 minutes with a sweeping move involving Ellender, Melton and Thomas with the latters cross-field pass being superbly volleyed home by NOBLE. And with stoppage time practically over, Noble broke free and, when left one-on-one with Morris, unselfishly squared for substitute THOMPSON to deliver the goal which put the issue beyond doubt.
United team (4-4-2): Bastock; Beevers, Ellender, Greaves, Chapman; Rusk (Angel 78), Noble, Melton, Thomas (Hocking 90); Hurst (Thompson 59), Jones. Subs (not used): Balmer, Croudson (gk).