Boston United 3 Altrincham 2: Superb victory sees Pilgrims prove themselves as promotion contenders

Ashley Timms.
Ashley Timms.

Brilliant. Marvellous. Superb. Pick whichever superlative you want, Boston United deserve it.

The Pilgrims proved themselves as serious Skrill North promotion contenders following their 3-2 victory over Altrincham.

The three points earned - the first time United have beaten a side in the top 10 to date this campaign - was enough to move the Pilgrims up to third in the table.

And with 27 goals scored in 13 matches, they are currently the division’s top scorers.

But the manner of the success was just as important, as Boston’s defence got the better of one of the division’s most potent attacks and their midfield and attack were just at their free-flowing, imaginative best.

With just 34 seconds on the clock, Altrincham believed they should have been given a penalty when Jake Moult - the villain here last season when his altercation with Spencer Weir-Daley saw the Pilgrims striker red carded - went down as he surged past Rene Steer.

But referee Martin Dexter was having none of it and waved play on.

Early scare avoided, and that allowed the Pilgrims to get back to showcasing some of that brilliant attacking flair that served them so well in the first 45 minutes against Harrogate a week earlier.

United’s first chance of the afternoon was Ricky Miller’s 20-yard strike, which was deflected wide.

But they took the lead in the eighth minute... from the unlikeliest of sources.

Conor Marshall’s only previous goal for the club was a header against Gloucester City in a 4-0 victory last season, incidentally Dennis Greene’s first game as manager.

Goal number two was a low strike hit on the turn which went through the legs of Gianluca Havern and took a deflection off the boot of Scott Leather, enough to loop the ball over the dive of keeper Stuart Coburn.

Boston thought their lead had been doubled when Carl Piergianni connected with Ian Ross’ corner, but his header was nodded off the line by Moult.

Miller’s 25-yarder brought a good stop from Coburn and - not to be outdone - Ross tried his luck from 35 yards out. The Robins keeper made another good save, this time using his palm to force the strike over.

In a first half Altrincham look dangerous going forward but offered little by the way of chances, James Walshaw seeing a speculative effort fly high into the Town End.

Ross set Miller free again but Coburn pulled off another top save to deny the Boston striker.

And the importance of Coburn’s saves were proven when Altrincham drew level in the 42nd minute.

United keeper Ashley Timms had been transfer listed on Tuesday but handed the number one jersey for the contest. There seemed little he could to to prevent Shaun Densmore’s powerful and dipping free kick beating the Boston wall and dipping into the net.

However, the Pilgrims went into the dressing room leading at the interval thanks to Weir-Daley’s finish in the fifth minute of time added on.

It was a goal that owed as much to the persistance of Miller as it did to the cool finish from the cut back, the striker netting from eight yards out.

And Weir-Daley was almost on the scoresheet again when the second half resumed, but after latching on to Jake Hall’s through ball his strike beat Coburn but rebounded off the post.

Timms made a good block to tip Densmore’s strike wide and also held Simon Richman’s cross firmly before United went on the offensive.

Weir-Daley hit one over on the turn and Miller saw that man Coburn deny him with yet another instinctive stop as Boston again saw momentum swing their way.

But that didn’t last long and the hosts were let off when Walshaw was given a sight of goal but failed to hit the target at the near post.

Back came Boston and when the ball landed at the feet of Weir-Daley, his low strike flew inches off target.

Scott Garner grabbed his third goal of the season to put the Pilgrims into a 3-1 lead.

Ben Milnes’ cross was nodded down by Stefan Galinski, and the centre back took a touch before hitting a strike which found its way over the line.

Walshaw made it game on again with eight minutes to go, beating Timms with a close range header that had both power and accuracy.

That teed up a nervy climax, which saw Altrincham sub Greg Wilkinson toe-poke a corner wide of the Boston goal.

But as that effort whizzed wide, so did Altrincham’s hopes of salvaging anything.

UNITED: Timms, Marshall (Sansara 60), Garner, Piergianni, Steer, Galinski, Ross (Milnes 65), Hall, Weir-Daley, Miller, Newsham (Aujla 81); Subs (not used): Sanders, Vince.

ALTRINCHAM: Coburn, Densmore, Leather (Rodgers HT), Havern, Doughty, Lawrie, Richman, Moult (Perry 73), Clee (Wilkinson HT), Reeves, Walshaw; Subs (not used): Smikle, Gilroy.

Ref: Martin Dexter.

Att: 1,081.