BOSTON UNITED 2 NUNEATON BOROUGH 1: Ten-man Pilgrims up to third

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Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the new and improved Boston United.

Robust in defence, exciting and free-flowing in attack and - when the pressure’s on - they don’t buckle.

Craig Elliott’s side moved up to third in the National League North following a 2-1 victory over Nuneaton Borough, which was made harder than it should have been by Ashley Jackson’s red card and a bizarre amount of additional time played.

But as the final whistle eventually blew, it was three wins from four for the Pilgrims thanks to goals from Nathan Arnold and Jonathan Wafula.

Rest assured, this side are far from perfect. But with every game they are edging closer and closer to looking like the real deal.

The two opponents went into the contest with two clean sheets apiece from their opening three matches, but holes in the Pilgrims defence allowed Kairo Mitchell an early run at George Willis’ goal, only for poor finishing to save the hosts’ blushes.

At the other end Borough keeper Louis Gray made routine saves to deny Spencer Harris and Wafula early on.

A mini brawl broke out midway through the first half after a bizarre set of circumstances.

Willis ran out of his box to meet a long ball over the top of his defence, managing to scramble the ball to his byline, seemingly getting away with a handball in the process.

As his momentum took him out of play Harry Panayiotou shoved the keeper into the advertising hoardings, earning a yellow for kickstarting the scuffle which left the Boston number one in a crumpled heap on the floor.

Undoubtedly, the hosts were the better side in the first half, Andre Johnson flitting from opponent to opponent to hurry and hassle as if he were a wasp dipping into the pints in a beer garden.

His willingness to do the thankless tasks allowed Boston space to exploit in the Nuneaton half, but too often a poor decision or weak touch broke a move down in the final third.

That was rectified with seconds of the first half remaining, the ball bouncing around the edge of the Borough area before Wafula, on his backside, slipped the ball into the run of Arnold who fired a swerving strike beyond the reach of Gray.

Nicky Walker replaced Johnson at the interval and took on the role of chief tormentor, teeing up Brad Abbott, who fired over, after winning back possession.

Andi Thanoj was next to test Gray, but the keeper was a match to the long-distance strike.

Boston doubled their lead with a sweeping move in the 72nd minute, Arnold’s crossfield ball and Walker’s reverse pass teeing up Wafula, who ended the move with a low finish.

But Nuneaton were handed a lifeline following Jackson’s red card, dished out by referee Amy Fearn for a late challenge on Michael Tweed.

Four minutes later and Borough had their first goal of the season, a cross from the left where Jackson once stood swept home by Enoch Andoh.

Andoh went close with a 20 yarder that sailed the wrong side of Willis’ goal as Boston received another let off.

It was then Wafula’s turn to go close, Gray miscuing a clearance from outside his box following Walker’s pressure, the winger hitting the bar from 30 yards out.

The board said there would be three additional minutes played, Fearn rattled the nerves but playing nine seconds shy of seven, but Boston held on for an important win.

UNITED: Willis, Middleton, Jackson, Thanoj, Harris, Qualter, Arnold (Lees 84), Abbott, Johnson (Walker HT), Marriott (Westcarr 76), Wafula; Subs (not used): Margetts, Roberts.

BOROUGH: Gray, Obeng, Freestone, Hurst, Burns, Carter, Calveley (Wesolowski 74), Richards (Andoh 66), Panayiotou, Jones (Tweed HT), Mitchell; Subs (not used): Wharton, Etheridge.

REF: Amy Fearn.

ATT: 1,200 (33).

STAR MAN: Jonathan Wafula: A goal and an assist made the difference.

GOALS: UNITED - Arnold (45), Wafula (72); BOROUGH - .

BOOKINGS: UNITED - Middleton (78); BOROUGH - Panayiotou (27), Tweed (53), Mitchell (75), Carter (78).

REDS: UNITED - Jackson (78).