Boring. Dull. Rubbish. Forgetable. Abject. Dire. You could pick any of those words out of a hat and they would fittingly describe Boston United’s 2-0 defeat to Harrogate Town tonight.
It was Graham Drury’s first defeat at home since becoming the Pilgrims manager.
But worse than that, it was by far the side’s worst performance under his leadership.
From kick off to the 86th minute, the hosts lacked urgency and desire.
The few chances that came their way were wasted and far too many players weren’t up to their usual standards.
To be brutally honest, it was apalling from Boston.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Harrogate’s Robbie Youhill carved out a decent shooting opportunity on the edge of the United box.
But his effort lacked direction, flying high of the home side’s goal.
And that was the story in the early exchanges.
Adam Nowakowski also shot weakly at Dan Haystead’s goal, while Ben Fairclough and Jordan Smith could have done better with strikes from similar positions at the other end.
Town’s Chibuzor Chilaka created the first real chance of the game.
Cutting inside Tom Ward, he carved out a shooting opportunity.
But his strike was blocked by Haystead, before Ben Milnes was on hand to hack away the danger.
However, it was that man Chilaka who put Harrogate ahead in the 20th minute.
Youhill broke down the United left and had plenty of time to pick out Danny Forrest, whose strike was blocked by Haystead.
But as United’s keeper stretched out an arm to grab the loose ball, the Town forward was there first to stab home from six yards out.
It took until the 30th minute for Boston to create their first real threat at goal, but Harrogate stopper Craig MacGillivray did his job, palming away Spencer Weir-Daley’s goalbound header.
The in-form Chilaka should have added to his tally when he beat Haystead to Dave Merris’ free kick, but with the goal at his mercy he nodded off target.
Five minutes after the re-start, Graham Drury made his first change as Mark Jones replaced Fairclough.
But the next good chance fell to Marc Newsham.
The Boston man stole a yard on Shane Killock in the penalty area, but swept his left-footed effort wide of the goal.
United continued to press and Ross saw a free kick curl over the away side’s wall, but it didn’t have to pace to trouble McGillivray.
And as the Pilgrims failed to convert chances, Chilaka struck again, comfortably guiding Dwayne Samuels’ cross home in the 60th minute.
And just as you thought things couldn’t get any worse for United, they were down to 10 men.
Charley Sanders, who had only been on the pitch for eight minutes, received his marching otrders for an elbow on Shane Killock.
Somehow, this finally kick-started United.
Ross, the side’s stand-out player of the night, brought the best out of MacGillivray with an 86th-minute free kick, while the Town keeper pulled off a phenomenal reaction save at the death to tip debutant Phil Watt’s header away.
Finally, in the 90th minute, there was something for the home fans to cheer.
Newsham, yes that man again, placed Jones’ cross beyond the Town keeper, his 23rd of the season.
It made things look closer than they were.
Even as the final whistle blew, Harrogate were still comfortably the better side.
UNITED: Haystead, Silk, Jelleyman, Watt, Ward, Ross, Fairclough (Jones 50), Milnes, Newsham, Weir-Daley, J. Smith (Sanders 69); Subs (not used): Stainfield, Reed, Drury.
HARROGATE: MacGillivray, Samuels, Merris, Bolland, White, Killock, Youhill, Nowakowski, Chilaka, Forrest, Elam (Beesley 34); Subs (not used): Baker, Bolder, Bloomer, Dean.
Ref: Ian Dudley.