Skrill North

Boston United

Miller (12) (penalty), Garner (16), Agnew (55), Milnes (79)

Hednesford Town

(2) 4

(0) 0



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Tom Thorley


Gainsborough Trinity (H) 8.3.14

The Pitmen's spluttering, patchy form in 2014 continued to leave the Pitmen's loyal supporters frustrated this afternoon, as Rob Smith's side crashed to a comprehensive defeat at free-scoring Boston United in front of a 1,102 crowd at the Jakeman's Stadium

The Pitmen arrived in a dry, sunny Lincolnshire buoyed by a morale-boosting 2-1 win over struggling Histon the previous week, having suffered back-to-back defeats to Harrogate and Solihull before that to severely dent any ambitious title aspirations the club still held. With more injury concerns and a suspension for skipper Darren Campion hitting his squad, Smith was forced to make more major changes to his side, with the Hednesford supremo not able to name his strongest side for several weeks due to a variety of issues. In came Dave MacPherson, Wayne Riley, Marvin Robinson, and, for a full debut, Charlie Anagho-Ntamark as Smith left out the suspended Campion, Nathan Woolfe, Paul Sullivan and the injured Nathan Blissett

Boston themselves had had a topsy-turvy period in their season of late, also suffering back-to-back defeats to Brackley Town and Harrogate. However, Dennis Greene's side had proved their worth at the Jakeman's Stadium with only three defeats at home all season, scoring freely in front of their own supporters to move into a play-off place in recent weeks

The Pitmen made a bright start, with Anagho-Ntamark assuming a role wide on the right and showing several neat early touches as he pushed and probed down the Boston left-hand side

However, it was Boston who took an early lead from the penalty spot through top scorer Ricky Miller, after the referee awarded the hosts a thirteenth-minute spot-kick; Miller wriggled away from the attentions of John Disney - playing in an unfamiliar left-back role in the absence of Campion - and drifted into the penalty area. He took the ball beyond the attentions of Ben Bailey, who could only succeed in bringing Miller down with a mistimed sliding challenge. Dan Crane guessed right with Miller's spot-kick, but narrowly failed to turn the striker's well-struck effort away as Miller fired into the top right-hand corner of the net

It got even better for the Pilgrims three minutes later, as a foul by Jamey Osborne presented Boston with a free-kick from a dangerous position. Ian Ross's deep, floating ball into the far post was not dealt with by a nervy, hesitant Hednesford defence, allowing centre back Scott Garner to loop a header over Crane and into the far corner of the net as he met the ball unchallenged

The second goal for Boston shocked the Pitmen into life, with Osborne dragging a shot wide of goal from just outside the area after good play from Alex Melbourne and Anagho-Ntamark down the right-hand side

Boston keeper Lewis King was called upon for the first time in the game on twenty-one minutes, making a smart save to turn Anagho-Ntamark's powerful low shot behind for a corner to the Pitmen

Osborne was receiving his usual rough treatment from a Boston side that had two players sent off in their defeat to Harrogate last week, although very few decisions went the way of the youngster

 Anagho-Ntamark was looking the part in his first start for the club, offering a real threat coming inside from the right-hand side with his pace and trickery. On twenty-eight minutes, he got into another good position just outside the area but pulled his shot wide of goal

At the other end, Crane had to be at his best to keep his side in it on the half-hour mark with an excellent stop to keep out a low drive from that man Miller

Boston were content to allow the Pitmen to play in front of them and catch their opponents on the break, with Paul McCone having to break up promising build-up from the hosts twice in a minute as they looked to Miller's pace in behind the Hednesford defence

Yet another foul on Osborne on thirty-eight minutes saw the midfielder get the bird from the Boston crowd as they grew frustrated with what they perceived to be constant diving from the Hednesford man

Another effort from Anagho-Ntamark with a minute of the half remaining was deflected just wide of King's left-hand post, earning the Pitmen a corner kick that was once again wasted by a right-footed player - Osborne - taking a kick designed for a left-footed player

Half time saw the Pitmen make a positional substitution, with forward Sullivan coming on for midfielder MacPherson, who had watched the game drift past him in the first half

With a flea in their ear no doubt from a visibly unhappy Smith, the Pitmen made a much more positive start to the second half; another heinous challenge on Osborne from Jamie McGhee earned the Boston man a yellow card, with the resultant free-kick from Tom Thorley finding the head of the big man Robinson. His powerful header was at a comfortable height for King who clawed the ball away from goal, but only into the path of Sullivan; his follow-up effort crashed against the underside of the bar but failed to cross the line, with Boston hacking the ball away from danger in the confusion

This was to prove a costly miss for the Pitmen, as Boston pretty much sealed the win on fifty-five minutes through Liam Agnew. Marc Newsham was allowed time and space down the Boston right to cross for Agnew, who slotted past Crane from eighteen yards out

Sullivan was presented with another great chance to get his side back into the game on the hour mark, as he managed to nip in behind the Boston defence and raced onto a through ball by Thorley. However, his low effort lacked conviction and was saved by King as he came out of goal to meet the striker

Another good ball in from Thorley found the head of Bailey on the hour mark, but the centre back's flick header was off target at the far post

Desperately needing someone with a left foot in the game, the Pitmen brought on Woolfe in place of Robinson on sixty-one minutes to add more creativity and an outlet on the left-wing

Woolfe's first act was to send over an excellent inswinging corner kick that had King flapped at as he went up for the ball under pressure from Paul McCone

The Pitmen made their third and final change on seventy-one minutes as the lively Ntamark was replaced by the wily Michael Lennon, who was fit again after a spell out injured

Lennon could not make much of an impact as the Pitmen struggled to get the ball up to the target man, and indeed it was Boston who wrapped up a comprehensive win with eleven minutes left. McCone was at fault as he allowed Miller to nick the ball off him on the edge of the area, with the striker squaring the ball to partner Newsham. His shot was blocked by Bailey, with the defender also managing to block an effort from Ben Fairclough. The ball fell kindly to Ben Milnes, who fired confidently home from just outside the box

Hednesford had been thoroughly outplayed in every department during a pedestrian outing, allowing Boston to pick them off at regular intervals and punish poor play and inconsistent defending. Smith's side continue to cling on to third spot in the Skrill North table, but with his side now sinking back into the chasing pack with games running out, a play-off place that for so long looked a certainty is now looking rather shaky

Boston United: King, Steer , Ferguson, Weir-Daley (Fairclough 65), Garner, Piergianni, Ross © (Marshall 45), McGhee (Milnes 54), Miller, Newsham, Agnew      Subs Unused: Galinski, Vince

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Melbourne, McCone, Bailey ©, MacPherson (Sullivan 45), Osborne  , Riley, Robinson (Woolfe 64), Anagho-Ntamark (Lennon 71), Thorley      Subs Unused: Francis, Thompson-Brown

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