Harrogate Town 4 Boston United 0: Seven-man Pilgrims put to the sword

Lewis King.
Lewis King.

You will never see anything like it again. Harrogate Town took three points with a 4-0 victory - but Boston United finished the match with seven men, and one of those was injured.

Red cards to Carl Piergianni and Lewis King saw the Pilgrims two-men shy with 18 minutes played.

That was followed by match-ending injuries picked up by Rene Steer and Jamie McGhee.

And at the death Stefan Galinski also hobbled off, but bravely returned to the field to save the match being abandoned.

United manager Dennis Greene made three changes to the side which lost 2-1 to Brackley Town a fortnight earlier.

Lewis King replaced Sam Vince in goal, while Ian Ross and Ryan Semple returned to midfield in place of Spencer Weir-Daley, who dropped to the bench, and Kyle Dixon, who returned to Notts County following the end of his loan spell.

The whole tone of the contest was changed with less than four minutes on the clock when Piergianni received his marching orders.

The central defender tangled with Town’s Ashley Worsfold as the striker charged down on goal, and as the forward went to ground referee Mark Ackerman wasted no time in reaching for the red card.

It was a brave decision from the official so early in the game, but it was questionable as Conor Marshall appeared to be covering.

But worse was to come for the away side when they were down to nine men with just 15 minutes on the clock.

As Worsfold - yes, him again - struck an effort goalwards King made a good save, but as he had already left his penalty area referee Ackerman had no option but to send the stopper back for an early shower.

Tactical changes meant the Pilgrims had also used up two of their substitutes within 18 minutes as Galinski and Sam Vince were introduced and Semple and leading scorer Marc Newsham both sacrificed.

Ricky Miller almost handed United the lead with a run and drive which was well palmed over by Craig MacGillivray while, at the other end, Vince’s firm hand denied Worsfold.

And with that two-man advantage the inevitable happened, Chris Hall putting Town in front.

With 21 minutes on the clock Craig Nelthorpe’s corner was nodded on by Adam Nowakowski, before the striker stooped down to head home.

Hall should have doubled Harrogate’s lead when Steer’s weak clearance landed at his feet. But from close range he managed to blast his strike well over the crossbar.

However, it was that man Hall who doubled Harrogate’s lead just 63 seconds into the second half.

Connecting with Steve Mallory’s cross he looped his header beyond the rooted Vince to effectively kill off United’s hope of a comeback.

Vince did well to deny Worsfold’s header from point-blank range, but from the resultant corner the hosts scored their third of the game.

This time it was Shane Killock who headed home from a corner with 56 minutes gone.

And if you thought United’s day couldn’t get any worse, it could.

Both Jamie McGhee and Steer collected injuries and had to hobble from the pitch. And with Boston’s three substitutes used, they were forced to soldier on with just seven men.

Vince made a fine double save to deny Craig Nelthorpe and, pulling himself off the floor, tipping Joe Ironside’s follow-up off target.

Dominic Rowe - who scored a belter in the 3-3 draw at York Street earlier in the season - made it 4-0 with a fine 20-yard strike with 10 minutes remaining.

But then came Galinski’s injury. Had he been unable to continue Ackerman would have had to abandon the match.

Instead the defender returned to the field, even if he was forced to collapse to the ground on further occasions.

With so many injuries, you could expect plenty of time added on. But as the clock struck 90 minutes Ackerman did the sensible thing and blew up.

HARROGATE: MacGillivray, Samuels, Merris, Nelthorpe, Heath, Killock, Mallory (Smith 81), Nowakowski, Hall, Worsfold (Rowe 65), Clayton (Ironside 65); Subs (not used): Brown, Bloomer.

UNITED: King, Marshall, Steer, Agnew, Garner, Piergianni, Ross (Milnes 56), McGhee, Miller, Newsham (Vince 18), Semple (Galinski 4); Subs (not used): Weir-Daley, Fairclough.

Ref: Mark Ackerman.

Att: 632.