BOSTON UNITED 3 HEDNESFORD TOWN 1: Pilgrims fightback for victory

Grant Roberts.
Grant Roberts.

Goals from Grant Roberts, Lewis Hilliard and Kaine Felix completed the comeback as Boston United fought from a goal down to beat Hednesford Town 3-1.

But the drama didn’t end there as the Pitmen ended the match with 10 men as Jack Fitzwater received his marching orders, Town manager Frank Sinclair made to join him in the stands moments after following a touchline altercation with the Pilgrims bench.

Stephane Ngamvoulou had put Hednesford in front, but Boston’s never-say-die attitude saw thyem claim the spoils and remain in third place in the standings.

The Pilgrims’ pre-match preparations were far from ideal with Notts County recalling midfielder Jordan Richards on the eve of the contest.

And with Zak Mills and Dylan McEvoy both sidelined and Ryan Robbins joining Corby Town on loan, youth teamers Jack Dykes, Harry Vince, Kofi Ross and Harry Payne were named alongside Cameron Johnson on the bench.

But as the full time whistle blew, it was the hosts who had claimed three vital points, even if the balance of play did not suggest this was a side in the play-off spots facing a team in the drop zone.

Anyone expecting Sinclair’s side - second-bottom with just one victory in their past 10 National League North contests - to attempt to defend and stifle would be pleasantly surprised as the contest began at pace and with neither team holding anything back.

John Sands’ powerful strike warmed the hands of former Boston trialist Dan Crane, while Pilgrims keeper Fabian Spiess kicked off his home debut by tipping Sean Williams’ dipping free kick over his bar.

Crane then used his legs to pull off a point-blank stop to deny Mark Jones after the United striker met Carl Piergianni’s knock down.

The Pitmen took a 10th minute lead as Ngamvoulou side footed home from close range.

Boston switched off from a Hednesford free kick on the edge of the box, with Williams slipping in Shelton Payne down the channel, his low cross finding the grateful Town striker.

United almost drew level instantly from the unlikeliest of sources, but Crane did well to scramble across his goal and tip teammate Fitzwater’s headed back pass round his post.

But a moment of brilliance restored parity.

With 15 minutes on the clock Hilliard’s free kick was headed clear, but from 25 yards out Roberts unleashed a volley which flew threw the crowded penalty area and into the net.

While Hednesford’s defence looked flimsy at best, the away side broke with pace and conviction, regularly stretching the Pilgrims backline as they sped the ball away from their own area.

From one such move Payne found space to shoot from the edge of the area but his curler lacked the direction to trouble Spiess.

Town came within a whisker of regaining the lead towards the end of the first half as Tommy Cooney intercepted Payne’s cross to Ngamvoulou inside the six-yard box.

Garner’s clearance smashed straight into teammate Piergianni and the ball looked to be heading for the net until Spiess smothered on the line.

As the Pitmen turned the screw again, Jones was in the right place to defelect Ngamvoulou’s strike wide while debutant Cooney made a perfectly-timed covering challenge as Ahmed Obeng burst through on goal.

And when Obeng had a second sight of goal he beat Spiess but his effort flew the wrong side of the post, the half-time whistle bringing Boston some much-needed respite.

The second half began with another bombardment, but this time on the Pitmen goal.

Roberts saw a 20-yard strike rattle the foot of Crane’s post while Sands nipped in to round the Town keeper, only to slice wide with the open goal at his mercy.

With half an hour to play Hilliard, the player likened to Chris Waddle by manager Greene, showed quick feet and good close control before driving an effort wide from the edge of the box.

In response, Pitmen playmaker Williams then found Perry with a searching cross, but the advancing Kyle Perry could only hit the crossbar from close range.

Back came Boston, but as Felix slipped his marker in the box his effort on the turn could only ruffle the side netting.

The contest then slipped into slump until four crazy minutes saw the hosts take the lead.

With 11 minutes to go Fitzwater’s reckless challenge on Johnson saw him earn his second yellow card and his marching orders.

After initially refusing to leave the pitch the defender eventually made his way down the tunnel as Matt Regan replaced Obeng.

The substitute’s first involvement was to trip Felix, and Lewis Hilliard sent Crane the wrong way to hand the hosts the advantage in the 83rd minute.

Sinclair, frustrated by the game’s events was then sent to the stands after becoming embroiled in a spat with the Boston bench.

Four minutes later and it was game over as Felix headed home Liam Marrs’ cross to send the Jakemans Stadium wild.

UNITED: Spiess, Marrs, Garner, Piergianni, Cooney, Felix, Hilliard, Roberts, Rollins, M. Jones, Sands (Johnson 62); Subs (not used): Dykes, H. Vince, Ross, Payne.

HEDNESFORD: Crane, Thomas, Truelove, Bailey, Fitzwater, Digie, Obeng (Regan 81), Williams, Perry, Ngamvoulou, Payne (Ennis 63); Subs (not used): Thorley, Patterson, Ransome.

Ref: Gareth Mellor.

Att: 1,269 (37).