Boston United were dumped out of the FA Cup as Peterborough Sports’ magnificent run in the competition continues.
The Pilgrims’ woeful form has seen them lose five of their last six games. But while Craig Elliott is left pondering his next move, nothing should be taken away from the visitors, who earned their place in the third qualifying round for the first time ever with a fearless first half and a battling second 45.
Boston were bad. Sports were good.
Josh Moreman and Josh McCammon were the matchwinners, condemning the hosts to their fourth 2-0 home defeat in a row and picking up £9,000 in prizemoney in the process.
It would have been a perfect day for the away side had ex-Pilgrim Dan Lawlor not left the field on a stretcher in the 86th minute, having injured his foot in a challenge with David Norris.
Spencer Harris replaced the injured Andi Thanoj in midfield for Boston while new signings Gregg Smith and Norris began on the bench.
For Sports, Mark Jones, Lewis Hilliard, Lawlor and Mitch Griffiths all returned to their former club while Richard Jones, another ex-Pilgrim, was among the visitors’ substitutes.
Anyone watching the first half would be excused for thinking Sports were the team two divisions higher up the ladder as they played with fearless enthusiasm while the hosts, yet again, plodded with next-to-no end product.
But confidence is always important, and the fact that Peterborough are unbeaten this season while United went into the match with four defeats from five is arguably a fairer indication than league positions.
The warning signs were there when Moreman lashed an early effort wide before he opened the scoring.
Collecting Hilliard’s pass he cut in on his right and beat George Willis with a low strike at his near post.
McCammon doubled the advantage in the 35th minute, firing through the pack after Hilliard’s free kick was allowed to reach him.
For Boston, their first effort came in the 43rd minute, Nicky Walker getting goal side but finding his strike palmed away by Lewis Moat.
With Sports happy to sit on their lead, Boston - who replaced Nathan Arnold and Brad Abbott with Smith and Norris at the break - enjoyed more possession in the visitors’ half.
When Moat spilled a cross under pressure from Smith, Griffiths got back on the line to deflect Ahkeem Rose’s strike over, referee Robbie Dadley dismissing claims the ball came off the defender’s arm.
Moat made amends seconds later and he tipped away Ben Davies’ strike.
United were building some momentum but it was Sports who almost struck again, Mark Jones rattling Willis’ bar with a lob before Avelino Vieira sliced the follow-up wide.
The Pilgrims keeper was then called upon to collect Jordan Brown’s header.
The final 10 minutes saw Boston push for a consolation, but Sports fought and scrapped for their clean sheet.
UNITED: Willis, Jackson, Davies, Harris, Midleton, Qualter, Wright, Abbott (Norris HT), Rose (Marriott 67), Walker, Arnold (Smith HT); Subs (not used): Wafula, Johnson, Gough, Margetts.
SPORTS: Moat, Griffiths, Bucciero, Malone, Wall, Lawlor, Vieira, McCammon, M. Jones, Hilliard (Webb 76), Moreman (Brown 69); Subs (not used): Newman, Marshall, R. Jones, Connell.
REF: Robbie Dadley.
GOALS: SPORTS - Josh Moreman (16), Josh McCammon (35).
BOOKINGS: UNITED - Davies (35), Middleton (59), Harris (88); SPORTS - Griffiths (41), Hilliard (43), Brown (78), Lawlor (82).