DARLINGTON 1883 4 BOSTON UNITED 1: Pilgrims bottom and pointless after sloppy defensive performance

Gregg Smith.
Gregg Smith.

Well, the good news is they’ve scored a goal.

With three games gone, Boston United sit bottom of the National League North table, without a single point.

A defensive horror show at Darlington 1883 saw the Pilgrims beaten 4-1, making it three defeats out of three, the worst start to a campaign since the Pilgrims kicked off the 1952-53 season.

It is too early to panic, or get carried carried away with worrying talk of relegation.

This newly-assembled side - 16 new signings arrived this summer - is yet to gel, to find its best formation and to shrug off some annoying injuries.

But something needs to be done to stop the rot quickly, and with Herve Pepe-Ngoma and Kalern Thomas both leaving the pitch due to injuries, question marks remain over which players will look to do just that against Tamworth on Tuesday.

Terry Galbraith handed then hosts a 43rd-minute lead from the penalty spot, his effort beating the dive of Christian Dibble.

But three goals in eight minutes sunk the Pilgrims as sloppy defending was ruthlessly capitalised upon.

Liam Hardy got the ball rolling five minutes after the break, a long ball over the top caught Joe Maguire out, the ball bouncing off the United defender’s head and allowing the striker to round Dibble and slot home.

Three minutes later and Herve Pepe-Ngoma sliced a clearance into his own net, before Mark Beck made the most of loose marking to head home number four.

Boston looked like they’d be going three straight matches without scoring a goal, until Jay Rollins gave the away side some scant consolation in the second minute of time added on.

Picking up the ball and driving for goal he outpaced his opposition to fire a low left footer beyond Peter Jameson.

The Pilgrims made two changes to the side which left Harrogate on the wrong side of a 2-0 result in midweek, Joe Burgess and Gregg Smith replacing Lewis Hilliard and Courtney Wildin, while Ollie Price joined Nat Brown, Shane Clarke and Marcus Marshall on the injury list.

The first half offered end-to-end action, but with a swirling wind causing problems for both defences.

The Quakers began well with Stephen Thompson drilling a 20-yard effort wide of the mark and Hardy slipping a strike wide of Dibble but the wrong side of the post.

For Boston a quickly-taken free kick saw Waide Fairhurst’s strike saved by the face of Jameson.

But apart from that the Pilgrims couldn’t find the target, Fairhurst, Jay Rollins and Smith all forcing efforts wide or over.

Darlington perhaps should have been awarded a penalty midway through the half when Thomas’ challenge seemed to catch Hardy.

On that occasion referee Paul Newhouse shook his head, but he pointed to the spot just before the interval after Maguire tugged Hardy to the ground.

The second half began as the first ended, with Darlington finding the net, surging into a 4-0 lead.

Smith made the starting line-up after serving his two-game suspension, heralded as the striker to help the Pilgrims get off the mark.

But after the fourth goal went in three changes to the United line-up saw him becoming a makeshift defender.

United went in search of their first goal of the season but Lamin Colley’s effort was saved and Callum Chippendale opted to round Jameson, and failing, after charging down on goal.

But Boston’s luck went from bad to worse as Thomas picked up a hamstring injury and the Pilgrims played out the remainder of the contest a man down.

But deep into time added on, Rollins had the final say, sarcastically hugged by a fan who ran onto the turf to celebrate with him.

The supporter was swiftly ejected, but at least he had something to remember from a forgettable day.

DARLINGTON: Jameson, Marrs, Galbraith, Turnbull, Burgess, Brown, Gillies, Scott (Portas 60), Beck, Hardy (Cartman 62), Thompson (Mitchell 46); Subs (not used): Nowakowski, Bell.

UNITED: Dibble, Thomas, Maguire, Pepe-Ngoma (Colley 61), Burgess, Rollins, Chippendale, Roberts, St Juste (Adams 61), Smith, Fairhurst (Johnson 61); Subs (not used) Hilliard, Wildin.

Ref: Paul Newhouse.