Boston United 2 Oxford City 1: Miller and Marshall settle it

Conor Marshall.
Conor Marshall.

Manager Dennis Greene celebrated being handed his new two-year Boston United contract by watching his Pilgrims beat lowly Oxford City 2-1.

It was by no means Boston at their best.

For long spells of the contest they were uncharacteristically sloppy and put in arguably their worst home performance of the season.

But Greene was handed his new deal for turning his side into promotion candidates. And three points in the bag will do those hopes of going up no harm.

Zac McEachran handed City a deserved interval lead, but finishes from Ricky Miller and Conor Marshall turned the match on its head.

The Pilgrims made four changes to the side which went down 1-0 at basement boys Workington last week.

Keeper Lewis King and central defender Carl Piergianni returned at the expense of Sam Vince and Stefan Galinski, while Ben Fairclough replaced Ian Ross.

Jay Dowie - who joined from Histon on Thursday - made his debut in the place of the injured Rene Steer, while fellow new boy Junior Konadu took his place on the bench.

The contest was only seven minutes old when a moment of controversy flared up. Marc Newsham was through on goal when he was clattered by onrushing City stopper Matthew Bulman.

As the last man the Oxford keeper should have walked, but referee Guy Stretton - who didn’t even want to give a free kick until his gaze was diverted to the flag of assistant Andy Park - only brandished a yellow card.

In an end-to-end opening to the contest Newsham headed a Faircough cross over the crossbar while, in response, City’s Viv Solomon-Otabar lashed a strike wide of King’s near post.

There was nothing the Boston number one could do as Darren Pond’s powerful 20-yarder left him rooted to the spot. But he received a get out of jail card as the strike rebounded off the foot of the Pilgrim’s post.

King was not so fortunate as Zac McEachran put the City in front five minutes before the interval. From a similar position the striker unleashed an effort which found the net via the inside of the upright.

Oxord almost doubled their lead after the break when Mike Symons’ header rebounded off the post and trickled across the goalline before being smothered by King.

Another couple of questionable moments from referee Stretton followed. Firstly, Oxford’s Lee Henderson only received a talking to following a wild hack from behind which ended David Ferguson’s run.

This was followed by the official bizarrely awarding Oxford a goalkick after Bulman clearly punched a cross behind his own goal.

These decision’s seemed to finally put some fire in United’s collective bellies.

Carl Piergianni saw a header cleared off the line by Michael Pook before Miller drew Boston level from the penalty spot.

With 68 minutes on the clock, the striker went down after a coming together with Henderson.

And although the decision looked a little harsh on the away side, Miller coolly dispatched the ball from 12 yards.

And United were in front for the first time on 77 minutes when Marshall forced home from close range.

Miller’s powerful strike was well saved by Bulman, but the right back was on hand to head United’s second at the back post.

There was still time for City to see a goal disallowed for a foul, but Boston held on.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective enough.

UNITED: King, Marshall, Ferguson, Dowie, Garner, Piergianni, McGhee (Galinski 89), Fairclough (Komnadu 56), Miller, Newsham, Agnew (Ross 85); Subs (not used): Milnes, Weir-Daley.

CITY: Bulman, Heenderson, Stonehouse, Pook, Preece, Willmott, Solomon-Otabar (Benjamin 64), Pond, Symons (Basham 64), McEachran, Winters (McNish 73); Subs (not used): Ballard, Jackson.

Ref: Guy Stretton.

Att: 1,023.