Boston United 2 Bradford Park Avenue 3: Pilgrims miss out in thriller

Marc Newsham.
Marc Newsham.

Boston United suffered their second defeat of the season as they were beaten 3-2 by Bradford Park Avenue in a thrilling encounter.

A late flurry was not enough for Dennis Greene’s men, who paid the price for early sloppiness.

Boston made just one change from the side which won 3-1 at Gloucester City on Saturday, with Spencer Weir-Daley replacing Michael Clunan, who wasn’t named in the squad.

With Weir-Daley playin up front, Peter Bore slipped back to right back, with Stefan Galinski moving into the midfield slot vacated by Clunan.

And although the formation more closely resembled the United side which has gone five Skrill matches unbeaten, it was the visitors who began the brighter, hitting the hosts with two early hammer blows.

Park Avenue needed just more than four minutes to edge ahead, and it was old foe Alex Davidson who handed them the lead.

The striker - who netted a hat-trick at York Street in Bradford’s 4-0 victory here last season - gained space to shoot in the penalty area before drilling beyond Ashley Timms from an acute angle.

And by the 10th minute that lead was doubled as United’s normally-stoic defence was caught napping.

The eternally robust Chib Chilaka squared the ball to Paul Walker, who had the simplest of tap-ins from close range.

Two-nil... and it could have been worse.

When Timms spilled Richard Marshall’s drive Chilaka was on hand to slot home, but the offside flag stifled his celebrations.

Chilaka - who tormented United with Harrogate Town last season - then earned himself space to shoot in the penalty area, but Timms did enough to palm the effort round his post.

In between those Bradford attacks, United created chances of their own, but Scott Garner should have done better when heading Ian Ross’ corner off target and Weir-Daley saw a long-ranger whizz wide.

It took 29 minutes for John Lamb to be tested in the Park Avenue goal. But when Weir-Daley unleashed a strike which had dip and skip along the moist turf, he did well to get his body behind the ball.

And then the Bradford onslaught came, wave after wave.

Two vital blocks denied clear scoring opportunities, with Garner and Carl Piergianni bravely getting their frames in the way of strikes from Nicky Boshell and Chilaka.

And then Timms pulled off another top save to steer Boshell’s effort away from danger.

In first-half time added on Ian Ross looked to net his third goal in as many games, but his whipped left-footed effort slipped off target.

Boston began with more purpose in the second half, and had two strikes been a little more acurate then they would have soon be level.

Ricky Miller beat Lamb with his 20-yard strike, but watched on as his effort hit the inside of the BPA post and trickled across the face of goal.

Seconds later, Weir-Daley’s blockbuster had the keeper rooted, but the ball landed wide.

On 56 minutes, the Pilgrims finally made their breakthrough as Marc Newsham netted his seventh of the campaign with a quite spectacular 25 yard lob which gave Lamb no chance.

Lamb kept his side in front with an acrobatic stop to deny Ross’ free kick, and that proved vital as Bradford pushed further in front.

On the hour, United failed miserably to clear a corner, and Steve Mallory was gifted a tap-in, the simplest goal he’ll probably ever score.

With a cushion and knowing what Boston were capable of, Park Avenue began slowing things down.

But in the 81st minute, United were back in it again.

James Knowles tripped Miller in the penalty area and Newsham blasted home his second of the night.

Sub Ben Fairclough then went close in time added on, but his dipping effort fell wide, before Lamb was called upon to tip Newsham’s flicked effort over.

Then, from a Ross corner, the ball landed to Charley Sanders who lashed his strike off target.

UNITED: Timms, Bore, Sansara, Marshall (Sanders 89), Garner (Milnes 73) Piergianni, Ross, Galinski, Miller, Newsham, Weir-Daley (Fairclough 81); Subs (not used): Dongo, Vince.

BPA: Lamb, Howarth, Price, Marshall, Knowles, Mallory, Chilaka, Hotte, Davidson (Corner 86), Boshell (Daly 35), Walker; Subs (not used): Clamp, St Juste, McMurray.

Ref: Ricky Wootton.

Att: 999.