LOWESTOFT TOWN 1 BOSTON UNITED 1: Steer sent off and Pilgrims see red over penalty decision

Rene Steer.
Rene Steer.

Two controversial penalty shouts. A questionable red card awarded to Rene Steer. A debut goal for Nicky Walker - 2015 is not even 24 hours old and Boston United have already packed in plenty of talking points.

Boston United left Love Road feeling anything but this afternoon, believing that a handful of decisions robbed them of three points.

A crazy five-minute spell after the break saw United’s penalty appeals turned down. And within a matter of seconds they were down to 10 men and picking the ball out of their own net.

Just seven days earlier United celebrated a 5-3 Boxing Day victory at the expense of the Trawler Boys, but such a high-scoring result was never going to be repeated.

Before you take Love Road’s swirling winds and bobbly pitch into account, geography has left Lowestoft’s results disproportionate.

Stuck out on the easternmost point of the United Kingdom, that means Boston - at 105 miles away - is their closest fixture in the Vanarama North.

It’s painstaking and mindnumbing enough at times for those Pilgrims fans and players embarking on those long cross country slogs, so to add an extra two-and-half-hours each way on predominantly single-carriage A roads, stuck behind tractors and heavy goods vehicles for most away days means the advantage always lies with the home team in any of Lowestoft’s league fixtures.

And prior to kick off that was evident in the fact that the hosts had won seven and drawn two of their 12 home matches, but mustered a measly four draws from 11 road trips.

Just seven days had passed between the last meeting between the two sides, but United’s squad already had a different look with new signing Nicky Walker and loanee Alex Simmons making the journey.

Winger Walker, who joined after his Rotherham United contract came to an end, took his place in the starting XI, while Lincoln City forward Simmons began on the bench.

Walker was one of three changes to the Pilgrims starting line-up which was beaten 2-0 at North Ferriby on Sunday.

Jamie McGhee, handed a central role, and wide man Kaine Felix also took to the field, with Marc Newsham, Michael Hollingsworth and Conor Marshall named amongst the substitutes.

United began strongly with Felix and Dayle Southwell both testing Ashlee Jones before Walker saw a 20-yard rasper whizz over the bar.

And Walker got that debut goal with 20 minutes on the clock.

Lady Luck was certainly on his side as his 20-yard low strike took a deflection, the ball looping over the grounded Jones to put the Pilgrims in front.

The hosts failed to get a foothold in the first half, with set-pieces appearing to be their best bet of levelling.

But with 10 minutes to go to the break, their most clear-cut chance of the first half fell to Jake Reed, but Joel Dixon got down well to collect after the forward slid onto a low ball into the box.

And with seconds remaining another routine stop from Dixon collected Shaun Bammant’s weak effort on the spin.

Boston went for the jugular straight from the re-start and would have extended their lead were it not for two fine stops from Jones.

The keeper got down well to palm Walker’s first-time drive wide following McGhee’s direct run from midfield.

And then came the pick of the saves, a superb reaction stop when Carl Piergianni looked certain to power home a header from close range after McGhee’s inviting corner.

But then Lowestoft found themselves level and United a man down after a crazy five minute spell.

United were adamant they should have been awarded a penalty after Piergianni’s header struck an arm in the penalty area, but referee Michael George was having none of it.

As the Pilgrims protested the two sides became involved in a mass brawl which, when the dust had settled, saw Steer sent off and Piergianni and Lowestoft’s Andrew Fisk booked.

And as the match resumed the official handed the hosts a lifeline from the spot after adjudging Erkan Okay’s drive to have been handled by Piergianni.

Indeed, the ball struck the arm of Piergianni. But its from a matter of yards away and, at pace, the call being arguably no different to the appeals at the other end seconds earlier.

But Jack Ainsley, who slotted home from the spot on Boxing Day, made no mistake to level after 61 minutes.

Robert Eagle then came close to putting the Trawler Boys in front, but his low strike flew inches wide of the mark.

Substitute Simmons was given his chance and almost made an instant impact... his effort hitting the side netting.

Into the seven minutes of time added on Scott Garner and Southwell both had chances as United bravely pushed on for a winner despite their handicap, but Jones did enough.

And with that went United’s hopes of victory.

The long, slow journey back to Boston is not one you wish to take when left to tew over a handful of refereeing decisions.

LOWESTOFT: Jones, Ainsley, Smith, Fisk, Haynes-Brown (Okay 35), Gaughran, Mason, Jarvis, Reed, Bammant (Woods-Garness 83), Eagle; Subs (not used): Marsden, Radomski, Jessup.

UNITED: Dixon, Marrs, Steer, Mills, Garner, Piergianni, Felix (Marshall 63), McGhee (Simmons 75), Southwell, Jones, Walker (Hollingsworth 75); Subs (not used): Newsham, Vince.

Ref: Michael George.