Boston United 1 Solihull Moors 1
DANNY Davidson grabbed a late equaliser for Boston United as they earned a vital point against Solihull Moors last night.
In arguably the most entertaining match York Street has witnessed all season, substitute Davidson did not know much about his goal.
But as they say – they all count.
Solihull’s resilient defence had stood firm and withstood a bombardment of Boston balls into the box for 81 minutes.
But finally they were undone as Ryan Semple’s left footed cross to the back post saw debutant Jamie Green miscue his volley across goal, striking Davidson and rebounding in off the post.
It may not have been the finest goal you will ever see, there were suggestions the ball struck Davidson’s hand on its way in, but there is no doubting the significance of the finish.
Solihull knew that victory could, with further successes in their games in hand, put them in a position where they could overtake the Pilgrims and snatch one of the four play-off spots.
Victory was vital for Moors. Defeat was unthinkable for United.
And with that in mind, both sides attacked with maverick intent – both keepers being the stand-out performers as the scores remained lower than they really should have been.
Home stopper Dan Haystead pulled off a flurry of fantastic blocks while his opposite number Jasbir Singh was seemingly unflappable as he blocked well and showed a safe pair of hands in the air.
The Pilgrims granted home debuts to no fewer than five players.
Full backs Darren Williams and Mark Robinson, plus central defender Kevin Austin made their first starts at the Jakemans Stadium, while wingers Green and Grant Darley – both brought in from Rotherham United this week – pulled on the shirts for the first time.
While Austin was an immense presence at the back, the two full backs showed their guile and experience in breaking down the Moors attacks.
However, in attack, Green and Darley attacked with the fearless gusto you can expect from young wannabes looking to make names for themselves in the game.
After just three minutes Darley busrt through into the Moors box, only to see his effort deflected wide.
Seconds later and, at the other end, Austin’s attentions forced Matt Smith to hurry his effort off target.
Darley and Green then both put Adam Boyes through on goal, only for a mixture of good defending and a superb save from Singh to keep the scores goalless.
Boston really should have led in the 29th minute when Boyes’ inch-perfect cross found the unmarked Marc Newsham in the penalty area, only for his header to fly to close to Singh.
Ten minutes later came the four-minute spell where Haystead really earned his man of the match champagne.
Firstly he reacted well to stop Ryan Beswick’s powerful volley from close range, before pulling off a hat-trick of saves to deny the powerful Simon Johnson.
Johnson – who was a substitute when United put nine past Redditch in August – proved his worth last night.
On the rare occasion that he outsmuscled Austin, Johnson forced a powerful header across goal and, with Haystead wrong footed, he adjusted himself brilliantly to palm the effort away.
Two minutes later and the same striker suffered the same outcome as Haystead again relied on his fingertips to force a header over the bar.
And before the interval Johnson again connected with a cross into the box.
This time he beat Haystead but saw his effort rebound off the crossbar before the Boston number one cleared the ball at the second time of asking.
Seconds before the break Boston were handed another opportunity to take the lead, but again Singh proved too much for Boyes.
The game continued at the same breakneck pace after half time, with the 1,042 fans getting more than their money’s worth.
Joe Clarke rasped a 30-yarder inches over Haystead’s bar as Moors resumed with intent, while an immediate Boston response saw Newsham guide Danny Sleath’s neat pass just off target.
It was Moors’ turn to have their bar rattled when Anthony Church – head bandaged after an earlier injury – unleashed a ferocious long-range drive.
Moors took the lead in the 59th minute when Smith connected with Junior English’s cross.
Haystead blocked his first effort, but Smith reacted first to volley the rebound into the inviting net.
Newsham could have done better when Shaun Pearson’s punt released him, but at full stretch he didn’t have the power to beat Singh.
Boston began making changes with Darley being replaced by Ryan Semple and Miles Hunter and Danny Davidson coming on for Newsham and Boyes.
Hunter’s pace instantly had the visitors worried, and twice he came close to getting the better of Singh.
However, with nine minutes remaining, Davidson got his fortunate – yet deserved – leveller.
Boston finished the contest with 10 men as Austin took a whack in the face and was left on the sidelines as he attempted to get his vision back.
But by now momentum was with United who looked the likelier to grab a winner.
But as the final whistle blew, both sides left the pitch to deserved applause and a deserved result.
UNITED: Dan Haystead; Darren Williams, Shaun Pearson, Kevin Austin, Mark Robinson; Grant Darley (Ryan Semple 60) Anthony Church, Danny Sleath, Jamie Green; Adam Boyes (Danny Davidson 75), Marc Newsham (Miles Hunter 67). Subs: James Cullingworth, Spencer Weir-Daley.
MOORS: Jasbir Singh; Phil Midworth, Dominic Langdon, Charlie O’Loughlin, Sam Adkins; Nick Green (Joel Grandison 83), Joe Clarke, Junior English (Alex Price 78), Ryan Beswick; Matt Smith, Simon Johnson. Subs (not used): Matt West, Emeka Omwubiko, Adam Rachel (gk).