Boston United suffered a miserable afternoon as they went down 4-1 at home to FC Halifax Town. But in the grand scheme of things, the result could be the least of the club’s worries.
The hosts, already ravaged by injury, were left counting the cost of a frustrating afternoon as captain Liam Agnew left the ground on crutches after being on the receiving end of an innocuous challenge from former Pilgrim Scott Garner, while Gregg Smith is ruled out of next week’s crunch clash at Nuneaton Town after seeing red.
Old enemy Tom Denton and old boy Alex Simmons both struck braces to settle a performance typical of a Billy Heath side, not particularly breathtaking but brilliant in its functionality.
Jay Rollins gave the hosts hope after reducing the arrears and lifting the Jakemans Stadium crowd, but in the end it was Halifax who stretched their run to six straight victories as Boston’s six-game unbeaten sequence in the National League North was abruptly halted.
Both sides traded possession and half chances before Denton headed the Shaymen into an 18th-minute lead with the goal you all pictured coming at sometime during the afternoon.
Liam Agnew’s slip deep into the Halifax half allowed a quick counter attack, finishing with Josh MacDonald’s right-wing cross floating over the leap of Joe Maguire and towards Denton, who headed low beyond the stranded Dion-Curtis Henry.
Denton, who revels in his role of the pantomime villain at the Jakemans Stadium, was roundly cheered when referee Paul Graham showed him a yellow card for a late slide on Kalern Thomas midway through the first half.
But an off-the-ball grapple between Shaymen captain Liam King and Smith saw the United striker’s name added to the book.
For the remainder of the half both sides found joy down the wings, Boston in particular with Jason St Juste, in for Courtney Wildin and the only change to the XI which started at Salford City a week earlier.
But pressure failed to turn into clear-cut chances and the half-time whistle blew with neither keeper forced into a testing save.
United’s best chance came at the end of the half as Lewis Hilliard met St Juste’s cross but flashed his header wide.
Seconds later and King had a sight of the Boston goal, but turned his 20 yarder high of the bar.
The half ended with United skipper Liam Agnew being replaced by Waide Fairhurst after being caught by Garner, who had worn the Pilgrims armband for the past three seasons.
It took just 22 seconds of the second half for Halifax to double their lead, Simmons skipping through the static Boston backline and prodding beyond the onrushing Henry.
If anything this spurred Boston on and Waide Fairhurst saw a 30-yarder fly over the bar of his former employers and Smith’s header was comfortably held by Drench.
Things went from bad to terrible in the 57th minute as Josh Wilde collapsed under a challenge from Smith, referee Graham taking his time before dishing out that second yellow.
It should have been game over as Jordan Sinnott was presented a shooting opportunity 12 yards from goal, but he blazed well over.
Shuffling his pack, Dennis Greene made his final two substitutions, introducing Callum Chippendale and debutant George Couzens, signed yesterday from Bourne Town, to replace Kalern Thomas and St Juste.
And in the 71st minute Boston were suddenly back in the game as Rollins netted his sixth of the season, tapping in from virtually on the goalline after Fairhurst’s drive flew across the face of goal.
But it definitely was game over in the 79th minute as Simmons netted his second of the day, a beautiful left-footed strike fro m outside the United penalty area which beat Henry at his near top corner.
Henry denied Simmons his hat-trick with a firm stop before, with the keeper out of his area, some frantic goalline defending denied both King and Simmons adding to the scoreline.
There was some of the same at the other end when Fairhurst met Couzens’ cross only for a body block to divert.
But with three minutes to go, Denton was reling away with his arm raised in celebration after curling a 20-yard strike high into the Boston net.
He’s not just a decent header of the ball.
The final chance of the day fell to Boston’s Ben Gordon but his effort, like his team’s performance, was wide of the mark.
UNITED: Henry, Thomas (Chippendale 66), Maguire, Robinson, Gordon, Marshall, Agnew (Fairhurst), Hilliard, St Juste (Couzens 66), Rollins, Smith; Subs (not used): Wildin, Colley.
HALIFAX: Drench, Moyo (Burrow 89), Wilde, King, Hotte, Garner, MacDonald (Hibbs 82), Lynch, Denton, Sinnott (Peniket 73), Simmons; Subs (not used): Brown, Nicholson.
Ref: Paul Graham.
Att: 1,236 (200).