FCUM 0 BOSTON UNITED 3: Abbott at the double as Pilgrims earn opening away win

editorial image

Brad Abbott netted twice as Boston United picked up their first away win of the National League North season.

Andre Johnson also made it two in three games as the Pilgrims left Broadhurst Park with a 3-0 victory... which should have been even more comfortable.

The hosts looked every bit the side which had shipped nine goals in their opening two games, while Boston created chance after chance but perhaps had the finishIng touch of a side with one goal from their opening contests until two late goals gave them the cushion their performance thoroughly deserved.

FC United’s preparations where scuppered in the warm-up when they lost skipper Harry Winter to injury, Elliot Simoes taking his place.

The Pilgrims, meanwhile, made one change to the side which lost 2-0 at Leamington in midweek, Johnson handed his first league start in place of Jonny Margetts, with new signing Craig Westcarr named on the bench.

The first half belonged to the visitors who were dominant in all departments, the central pairing of Abbott and Andi Thanoj running the show and picking out their runners as the Red Rebels found themselves regularly stretched.

Ashley Jackson and Thanoj had already tried their luck from distance before Abbott gave the Pilgrims a deserved 23rd-minute lead.

Nathan Arnold’s short free kick was collected by Adam Marriott and clipped into the box where FC United’s attempted clearance landed at the feet of the midfielder who opened his account with a powerful low strike through the pack.

Boston should have added to their advantage but young Rebels keeper Billy Crellin tipped away efforts from Thanoj and Johnson, while Jonathan Wafula should have done better with a free header.

When Ryan Qualter did nod the ball goalwards, Jamal Crawford was on the line to clear.

The second half began with a different complexion, the hosts on the front foot and coming close to drawing level within seconds, player-manager Tom Greaves blasting over after ghosting in round the back as United failed to clear a free kick.

Pilgrims pressure continued with Abbott rattling an effort inches wide from 30 yards out and Wafula’s finish chalked off for offside.

Crellin was called upon again to parry Marriott’s effort and block Wafula’s strike with his body, while Marriott was wasteful when turning back on himself in the box.

FC United were almost gifted a lifeline when Jackson miscued his header back to George Willis, but Greaves could only slice high and wide.

That narrow lead always made it edgy as the hosts pushed on, but Johnson gave Boston breathing space with his 77th-minute goal.

Collecting the ball on the right he cut in and dribbled to the byline where, when he looked set to cut the ball back, but instead fired high into the roof of Crellin’s net from the tightest of angles.

Rebels sub Dickinson was lucky to stay on the pitch when he appeared to elbow Spencer Harris as they challenged in the air, but referee Elliot Swallow brandished yellow.

Abbott put the game to bed with his second of the afternoon in the 85th minute, tapping in from close range after good work down the right from sub Nicky Walker.

The hosts almost pulled one back when Dickinson’s header hit the top of the bar and there was still time for Greaves to lash a third effort wide.

FCUM: Crellin, Senior, O’Halloran, Racchi, Ashworth, Lynch (Baird 74), Crawford, Winter, Greaves, Willoughby, Tattum (Dickinson 56); Subs: Litchfield, Banister.

UNITED: Willis, Middleton, Qualter, Harris, Jackson, Wafula, Thanoj, Abbott, Arnold (Roberts 89), Johnson (Westcarr 87), Marriott (Walker 72); Subs: Margetts, Lees.

REF: Elliott Swallow.

ATT: 1,686.

STAR MAN: Brad Abbott - bossed the game from midfield and made the difference with his goalscoring touch.

GOALS: UNITED - Brad Abbott (23, 85), Johnson (77).

BOOKINGS: FCUM - Lynch (43), Dickinson (80); UNITED - Qualter (63).