Sunday, 24 April 2011

Boston United 5 Blyth Spartans 0

This was a magnificent end to what had been a pretty special week and the perfect way to guarantee a spot in the post-season lottery that is the play-offs. The glorious warmth and sunshine of the past few days had been enhanced by the offer of a job on a national newspaper and was capped off by this five-star Boston display.

York Street was resplendent in the Easter sun and the Pilgrims played some sparkling football to match, serving up the perfect hors d’oeuvre to Monday’s crunch match at Nuneaton Town. Essentially faultless from one to eleven, it seems a bit unfair to single out any player for special praise but I’ll make an exception for Ryan Semple, who produced his finest performance in amber and black and scored a stunning goal.

It felt great to be back at York Street for a meaningful home match for the first time in a couple of months and the atmosphere in the Town End reflected the optimism that United could be back in their rightful place of the Conference Premier next season. I always look forward to play-off matches, regardless of the level of competition, because they unfailingly throw up the unexpected and, on this evidence, United have every chance of promotion.

Boston surged forward from the first whistle and weren’t shy in trying for goal. With Jamie Yates and Semple prompting down the flanks, Lawrie Dudfield strong in the air and Spencer Weir-Daley, a little subdued of late, effective in holding up and shifting the ball, a repeat of the 0-0 draw at Croft Park back in November looked unlikely.

The handful of supporters from the North-East, buoyed by their side’s ascent to eighth in the Conference North table on the back of goals from Paul Brayson, would have been heartened by their side’s defensive resolve early on but once United broke through, the goals flowed like a certain proverbial form of public transport.  

Semple’s dipping volley from the edge of the area was a cast-iron candidate for goal of the season (from 35 games I’ve seen in person, I can’t recall a better one) but United weren’t content. Within another five minutes, the score was 3-0, as first Anthony Church and then Lawrie Dudfield found the net. Both were fine strikes, with Dudfield’s effortless volley from six yards reminding me of my trademark leg extension shooting technique seen for years on the Astroturf pitches of south Lincolnshire.

Inevitably given the scoreline and the heat, United slackened off in the second half and a scoreless ‘after the Lord Mayor’s parade’ style 45 minutes as seen at Harrogate and Stafford looked on the cards until the last ten minutes. Shane Clarke at length grabbed the fourth and Adam Boyes, a replacement for Weir-Daley, robbed Blyth goalkeeper Dan Lowson to walk the ball home with all the urgency of an elderly couple taking a late spring stroll along Skegness beach.

Marvellous. Though tougher challenges surely await.

Next Match: The eagerly-awaited Easter Monday trip to Nuneaton. Party train!

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