Boston United 1 Redditch United 0
THE points are in the bag. But Boston United can take little credit from their dire victory over basement club Redditch.
Spencer Weir-Daley squeezed the ball under James Dormand in the 16th minute to earn the Pilgrims victory over their lowly opponents.
But the visitors should have left York Street with a share of the spoils after Gavin Hurren came within a whisker of equalising, smashing his header onto the inside of Boston’s post late in the second half.
And with the poor Pilgrims resting on their laurels, the home side were lucky not to concede a penalty with the final move of the match as Gareth Jelleyman tugged back striker Josh McKenzie, only for referee Dave Plowright to deny Redditch a lifeline.
A subdued Paul Hurst branded his side ‘lucky’ after the victory, which lacked passion and commitment from the amber and blacks.
Admittedly, Boston had to make changes.
With Lee Canoville, Kieran Murphy and Shaun Pearson – the clubs three first-choice central defenders – all out through injury, the back four took an unfamiliar look.
Especially as Cecil Nyoni decided he didn’t fancy a Tuesday night clash with Redditch and returned to parent club Sheffield Wednesday, opting not to extend his loan deal at the Jakemans Stadium.
Youngster Simon Ashton joined Jelleyman in the heart of defence for his first start of the campaign, while on-loan Rory Coleman and James Cullingworth acted as full backs.
In fairness, the quartet played to the best of their abilities, but were regularly exposed as little support came from the lacklustre midfield or the over-expectant attack.
Yes, Boston did beat Redditch 9-0 in August. But only defender Jordan Fitzpatrick remains from that day, and United should have taken note of that fact instead of expecting a repeat.
Boston started arrogantly, expecting their opponents to roll over and accept their fate.
Danny Sleath, Danny Davidson, Rory Coleman and Ryan Semple were all guilty of whacking the ball aimlessly from distance and expecting the ball to quite simply find the net, when teammates were in better positions.
In the first half Boston overplayed, by the second half they were overrun.
What Redditch lacked in ability they more than made up for with spirit.
What Boston have in ability they almost ruined with cockyness.
When called upon, Redditch keeper and former Boston trialist James Dormand, blocked well, denying Davidson and Anthony Church.
And he was unfortunate to concede when Weir-Daley picked up a loose ball in the box and hit a low strike which squirmed under the keeper’s body and squeezed into the net.
Back came Redditch, with Luke Edwards forcing Dan Haystead to make a good save from his stinging left-footed drive.
Boston created two more half-chances before the break, with Semple and Davidson beaten to the ball by Dormand and Lee Ayres with the goal gaping.
And to compound United’s misery, Ryan Semple was a half-time casualty, replaced following a hamstring injury.
After the break Boston continued playing needless long balls and created two opportunities of note – Weir-Daley forcing a block from Dormand and Miles Hunter blasting wildly over.
With less than 20 minutes remaining, Redditch were growing in confidence and should have equalised.
Jordan Fitzpatrick whipped a free kick into the box where unmarked Hurren powered his header against the inside of Haystead’s post.
The ball trickled along the goalline before rolling away from danger.
Moments later and McKenzie somehow missed with a free header from 10 yards out when it looked easier to score.
And then, with the final move of the game, another whipped free kick saw keeper Dormand, up for the deadball, flick on and with McKenzie seemingly through on goal, Jelleyman grabbed his shirt, halting his run.
However, no penalty was given and Boston trudged off the pitch, heads bowed and embarrassed, not looking like a team who just moved up to fourth place, while their spirited opponents were applauded down the tunnel by the home side.
UNITED: Haystead, Cullingworth, Ashton, Jelleyman, Coleman, Semple (Yates 46), Church, Clarke, Sleath, Davidson (Hunter 85), Weir-Daley (Newsham 62). Subs (not used): Ward, Koranteng.
REDDITCH: Dormand, Samuels, Ayres, Hurren, Timmins, Wilding, Dyer, Fitzpatrick (Newbury 75), Edwards (Quaynor 69), McKenzie, Green. Sub (not used): Snape.
Ref: Dave Plowright.