The evening began with talk of how victory could see Boston United move to the top of the Vanarama North. Some joked that, after Oxford City’s 8-1 defeat at the weekend, we could be witnessing double figures. Instead, there was just shock.
Yes, you read the score correctly, Boston United were beaten 7-2 at home to Oxford City tonight.
It may not have been close to the 14-0 defeats the Pilgrims suffered to Spalding United or British Railways. But those matches both came in the 1964-65 season.
This evening’s contest became one of those ‘where were you when’ moments, a night when Scott Garner was Boston’s best player, and he was part of a defence which shipped seven goals.
It was, in all honesty, freakier than a five-eyed fish.
With Rene Steer suffering an ankle injury, Dennis Greene was forced to make one change to the side which won 3-1 at Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday.
Jamie McGhee returned from the treatment table to replace Steer.
But as he moved into midfield, Zak Mills switched to left back and Liam Marrs dropped back to the right side of defence as the Pilgrims began with a 4-4-2 formation.
Boston also received a boost as Jay Dowie was named among the substitutes following his long lay off.
Oxford arrived at York Street with a point to prove following their 8-1 drubbing at the hands of AFC Fylde three days earlier, and they began with purpose.
Matt Gledhill was forced into saves by both Darren Mullings and Javi Rodriguez before the away side took a 13th-minute lead, Adi Yussuf given space to volley home from close range.
Boston’s first chance saw Mills’ driven cross scrape the Oxford crossbar.
However, the Pilgrims were level with 19 minutes on the clock after captain Scott Garner forced the ball home following a game of pinball in the City box.
Both sides then had chances to take the lead.
For Boston, Dayle Southwell rounded Mark Scott but, as his effort rebounded off the post, Kaine Felix blazed the follow-up over the bar.
And that was the moment the Pilgrims would live to regret as, from that moment, the contest slipped away from them.
In response, Gledhill did well to deny Kynan Isaac as he charged down on goal.
The Pilgrims - who lost Marrs through injury on 24 minutes - thought they had taken the lead when Garner’s header beat Scott.
But as the ball rebounded off the crossbar, City broke and Rodriguez unleashed a 20-yard strike which beat Gledhill and saw the away side regain the lead.
And a minute before the interval Oxford extended their lead as Jose Lapoujade went on a clever mazy run before prodding home.
Why nobody put in a strong enough challenge and how Gledhill allowed the ball to squirm in under his body would be talking points to mull over at the break.
But those thoughts were put to the back of the mind less than a minute after the restart as Garner grabbed his second of the night, connecting with Mills’ long throw to head home at the back post.
But if you thought the momentum was with Boston, think again.
Yussuf forced his second of the night home on 52 minutes, to give the away side some breathing space yet again.
Oxford’s fourth saw Greene make another change, bringing Dowie on to replace Marshall.
And it went from bad to worse in the 57th minute as Oxford netted their fifth.
With holes appearing in the United defence, Yussuf sprinted clear before teeing up Isaac who had the simple task of slotting beyond the exposed Gledhill.
Isaac found the net again in the 63rd minute with a powerful drive across the face of goal.
Back came Boston, but Southwell saw his effort cleared off the line by Josh Green before Stefan Galinski’s header was scrambled away by Scott.
Garner then looked to have completed his hat-trick with a low drive, but the fingertips of Scott somehow denied him.
And then City were in seven heaven as sub Tom Winters grabbed yet another, blasting home from close range following Felipe Barcelos’ cross.
To add insult to injury, Oxford played out the final 10 minutes with 10 men as Lapoujade hobbled off injured.
You’ll never see a match like that again at York Street. Never.
UNITED: Gledhill, Mills, McGhee, Marrs (Doran 24), Garner, Piergianni (Galinski 59), Fallah, Marshall (Dowie 53), Southwell, Felix, Meadows; Subs (not used): Hollingsworth, Vince.
OXFORD: Scott, Benjamin, Stonehouse, Pond, Lapoujade, Green, Hoban (Barcelos 66), Mullings, Yussuf (Wilson 65), Rodriguez, Isaac (Winters 65); Subs (not used): Brown, Del Alamo.
Ref: Ian Dudley.