SALFORD CITY 3 BOSTON UNITED 3: Smith’s late leveller - well worth tuning in for

Jay Rollins.
Jay Rollins.

Late drama. A scrambled equaliser. The man of the moment running to the joyous fans with his arms outstretched in celebration. It would make great TV.

But today at Moor Lane it was Boston United, not Salford City - those BBC documentary darlings - who were left cheering a grandstand finish.

Dion-Curtis Henry.

Dion-Curtis Henry.

Gregg Smith was the striker who earned the point to stretch the Pilgrims’ unbeaten National League North run to six matches.

Jay Rollins’ finish and Richie Allen’s own goal also played their part in United’s point, as did a series of top saves from Dion-Curtis Henry and a defence set up to frustrate.

Yes, they were breached as Michael Nottingham, James Poole and John Johnston got on the scoresheet for City, but it was also a day where Boston’s flat back five showed their class to the Class of ‘92.

With his one-match suspension served, Joe Maguire returned to United’s defence, one of three changes to the side which drew 0-0 with Worcester City last Saturday. Courtney Wildin, back from international duty with Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean Cup qualifiers, and Lewis Hilliard also got the nod from Dennis Greene as Waide Fairhurst and Lamin Colley dropped to the bench.

Gregg Smith.

Gregg Smith.

Joe Burgess joined Grant Roberts, Nat Brown and Shane Clarke on the sidelines after suffering a broken ankle last week. Jason St Juste, also involved in the Caribbean qualifiers with St Kitts and Nevis, was named on the bench.

A reshuffle saw Marcus Marshall join Maguire and Joe Robinson in a back three, flanked by Kalern Thomas and Ben Gordon, which looked more like a flat back five in the opening stages befofe the full backs began testing the waters further upfield. Gregg Smith returned to his favoured strikers’ role alongside Rollins.

After sustaining early Ammies pressure, Boston took a 10th-minute lead through Allen’s own goal. After being pulled back midway into the City half, the quick thinking of Hilliard saw him float a quick free kick to the far post where Smith nodded back across goal, Allen, under no pressure, forcing the ball into his own net.

There was little time to celebrate as Salford drew level just five minutes later. A low ball drilled into the Pilgrims’ penalty area saw Michael Nottingham get the final touch to beat Dion-Curtis Henry.

Hilliard was granted the chance to regain the lead when he ran onto a weak headed clearance in the Salford defence, but just inside the penalty area he could only volley over the bar.

After Smith’s long ranger was collected by Jay Lynch at the second attempt, Rollins put Boston back in front. With 36 minutes on the clock, the attacker beat the offside trap to loom down on goal, cutting inside and firing home at the second attempt after seeing his first effort blocked.

But going behind once again woke Salford up, with Matt Warburton curling a free kick inches wide and Allen’s header going close.

Allen should have levelled things seven minutes after the interval when put through one-on-one with Henry. But the Boston keeper made himself big and denied his opponent with a body block.

And the teenager came to his side’s rescue again moments later, using his legs to divert Sam Walker’s near-post drive round his post.

Pressure paid off in the 67th minute as Poole pulled the hosts level. Cutting in from the right he blasted a low drive home from close range, giving Henry no chance.

As United looked to sneak ahead once again, Hilliard was presented with another volleyed oportunity in front of goal, but again he fired off target.

Salford took a 73rd-minute lead through John Johnston, who picked up a stray ball at the ball post of a packed penalty area and unleashed a low drive which evaded the pack and nestled in the back of the net.

But Smith levelled things up again with 10 minutes to go. A clever free kick saw Fairhurst’s strike hit the inside of the Salford post, only for Smith to help Gordon’s follow-up home from virtually on the goalline.

But the action wasn’t over there as Salford wanted that lead back. And they would have had it were not for a brave block at feet from Henry and Joe Maguire clearing Johnston’s strike off the line.

And that was the final real chance of the afternoon as both sides settled for a share of the spoils. Well worth tuning in for.

SALFORD: Lynch, Smalley, O’Halloran, Walker, Grand, Nottingham, Warburton, Wellens (Johnston 35), Poole (Hine 83), Hulme (Phenix 82), Allen; Subs (not used): King, Barnes.

UNITED: Henry, Thomas (Fairhurst 77), Maguire, Robinson, Gordon, Marshall, Agnew, Hilliard (Johnson 77), Wildin (St Juste 56), Rollins, Smith; Subs (not used): Chippendale, Colley.

Ref: Anthony Tankard.