BRACKLEY TOWN 1 BOSTON UNITED 3: Dominant Pilgrims continue to improve

Dennis Greene offers instructions to Jay Rollins.
Dennis Greene offers instructions to Jay Rollins.

In case you were wondering what happened to last season’s Boston United, don’t worry, they’re still very much here.

The Pilgrims’ start to the campaign was hardly what those eager fans on the terraces were expecting following last season’s 12-game unbeaten finish, or those attack-heavy home performances where even the closest promotion rivals were unreservedly punished with a free-flowing spirit and a succession of goals.

But like a rebooted app, it appeares those early glitches have been easily eradicated. Because the side which took to the field tonight, Pilgrims v2.1 if you will, was the old favourite complete with a few additional extras.

That confident, almost cocky, attacking philosophy was evident from the off as the team in amber burst into a two-goal, six-minute lead.

But as the hosts found their feet and asked questions of the Boston defence, the stoic back line of Carl Piergianni, Scott Garner, Liam Marrs and Aziz Deen-Conteh, with a little help from Grant Roberts, had enough answers to make sure that United - putting in comfortably their best performance of the season to date - finished the evening with three more points and their third victory at St James’ Park in five matches.

Jay Dowie, who rejoined the club today following the release of Jake Sheridan, took his place on the bench as Dennis Greene kept faith with the XI which started Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Curzon Ashton.

The manager had seen enough attacking intent during the first half of that match - before the Nash were reduced to nine men and switched to the kind of defensive methods more akin to an under-siege castle - to believe his team could really take the game to Brackley early on.

And he was proved correct as the Pilgrims stunned the Saints by taking a 2-0 lead within six minutes.

Piergianni volleyed home the first after losing his marker and running in behind the defence to meet Kyle Dixon’s deep corner at the back post with just four minutes played.

Number two was an exquisite finish from Mark Jones, sliding his low strike under the onrushing frame of Dan Crane from an acute angle on the left-hand side of the penalty area.

After finding himself frustrated in front of goal throughout the previous three matches, the joy of getting off the mark was evident on the striker’s face as he celebrated with Jamie McGhee, whose clever pass had set him free.

Brackley, themselves, weren’t without attacking intent early on. But as Boston took their chances, Owen Story couldn’t.

His early goalbound strike was beaten away by Jason Alexander, while a back post volley saw the unmarked winger slice way off the mark.

The Saints’ luck changed when Story turned provider, his corner allowing Luke Graham to force an unchallenged header beyond the stranded Alexander, following a block on his marker, with 27 minutes on the clock.

As Boston looked to regain their two-goal advantage, Dayle Southwell saw a low 20-yard drive drift wide of goal and Jamie McGhee clipped the woodwork after guiding his effort around the sprawling Crane.

The second half failed to live up to the early excitement as United concentrated on stopping Brackley building attacks from midfield.

A strong and direct run from Jay Rollins ended with a swerving effort flying wide of the mark while Southwell also had a go at the Saints’ goal, his strike from the edge of the area whizzing over the crossbar.

Rollins’ perseverance finally paid off in the 74th minute as he tucked home his first Pilgrims goal following his summer transfer from Armthorpe Welfare.

Alexander’s long punt forward was helped on by Jones and Southwell before the winger prodded home from 10 yards out.

That finish visibly sucked the hope from the hearts of those Brackley players as United coasted through the final quarter of an hour.

Okay, Boston may not quite be at the high levels they set themselves last season. But the good news is that momentum is certainly building.

UNITED: Alexander, Marrs, Garner, Piergianni, Deen-Conteh, Rollins, Dixon, Roberts, McGhee (Dowie 68), Southwell, Jones (Deacey 75); Subs (not used): Friend, Johnson, Ravas.

BRACKLEY: Crane, Graham, Austin, McDonald, Morley, Story (Kaziboni 66), Batchelor, Walker, Winters (Moyo 75), Smith (Diggin 82), Burton; Subs (not used): Sharpe, Whittall.

Ref: Ian Rathbone.

Att: 311.