Divine Bishops leave Pilgrims without a prayer

Jordan Fairclough almost scored a comical own goal, but denied Sebastian Dunbar with a superb sliding tackle.
Jordan Fairclough almost scored a comical own goal, but denied Sebastian Dunbar with a superb sliding tackle.

BOSTON United’s winless run in the Blue Square Bet North stretched to three matches following last night’s 2-0 defeat to Bishop’s Stortford.

The Bishops left York Street with the points following a lacklustre performance from the Pilgrims - which was full of the right ideas, but the wrong execution.

The visitors, who began brightly with some sharp passing, looked certain to open the scoring in the 15th minute.

But just as Sebastian Dunbar prepared to pull the trigger, a superb last-ditch sliding tackle from Jordan Fairclough averted danger.

But in the 23rd minute came the biggest let off United will ever be granted.

Paul Bastock charged off his line to clear a stray ball, which – 25 yards from goal - smashed against Fairclough and looked certain to rebound into the Pilgrims’ net.

But somehow, the topspin on the ball saw it stop on the line and rest against the post, only for the relieved right back to clear.

With 10 minutes to go to the break, the hosts finally woke up and created their first opportunity, Jason Lee connecting with Ian Ross’ cross, but seeing the ball tipped over by Jordan Archer.

After the break, normal service was resumed, the Blues taking the lead two minutes after the restart through captain Reece Prestedge, finding the net with a 25-yard strike.

A clever flick from Daniel Subola released Dunbar, but the Stortford man failed to trouble Bastock with his effort from the edge of the box as the visitors again pressed.

United, working the flanks with Ryan Semple and interval substitute Tyrone Kirk, began making headway, as the Bishops’ defence began looking a little less comfortable.

From Ian Ross’ corner Boston thought they had levelled.

But Archer’s save denied Lee and Danny Sleath’s follow up was nodded off the line by Subola.

And again desperate defending kept United at bay as Marc Newsham, latching on to Ross’ cut back, forced a good block from Archer.

And this time the loose ball was flicked away from Semple by the toe of Alli Abdullahi.

As Boston should have been turning the screw, they were almost caught out on the break.

Bastock was brave in blocking Prestedge, whose follow up was turned away by Tom Ward.

Seemingly alarmed at their latest let-off, United sprung back into life instantly.

Lee and Kevin Austin got in each other’s way at the back post when either looked likely to score, before Ben Fairclough’s drive squirmed wide of the upright.

In stoppage time Sleath again tested Archer, the keeper tipping his half volley over.

But it was Stortford who had the final say, a penalty gifted after the returning gareth Jelleyman tussled with Junior Dadson in the penalty area.

From the spot, Dwight Gayle coolly found the net, his strike to powerful to be turned wide by Bastock’s fingertips.

Some post-goal celebrations led to some argy bargy between two sides, which led to both keepers being booked.

But that was the end of the action as the Blues left the Jakemans Stadium with three points.

UNITED: Bastock, J. Fairclough (B. Fairclough 66), Jelleyman, Ross, Ward, Austin, Semple (Hall 78), Sleath, Lee, Newsham, Constantine (Kirk HT); Subs (not used): Stainfield, Field.

STORTFORD: Archer, Jones, Milton (Dadson 75), Abdullah, Francis, Anderson, Gayle, Shulton, Subuloa (James-Lewis 90), Prestedge, Dunbar; Subs (not used): Lette Jallow, Artemi, Davison.

Att: 811.

Ref: Michael Blackledge.