Darlington 2 Boston United 1
(Tyrone O’Neill 7, Adam Campbell 10; Dominic Knowles 18)
Two goals in the opening 10 minutes saw Boston United defeated at Darlington.
Tyrone O’Neill and Adam Campbell delivered those early blows, before Dominic Knowles’ fourth of the season offered the Pilgrims hope.
But a below-par Boston were unable to carve out much more than half chances, once again a few moments of madness in the north east costing them dearly.
O’Neill provided a little bit of magic to open the scoring with seven minutes on the clock. Collecting the ball just inside the box with his back to goal, clever, quick feet saw the Middlesbrough loanee twist and turn before prodding a low effort through the pack.
While United were still wondering what had just happened it was two. Peter Crook clawed a cross out from under his crossbar but Campbell reacted first, pulled the ball from under his feet and found the top corner with a perfectly-executed curler.
Two great goals to please the home fans, but Boston would be left with a nagging feeling that both moves should have been cut out in their infancy.
But just as the hosts looked comfortable, Knowles gave United a lifeline with his fourth of the season.
The home defence made a hash of clearing Jay Rollins’ cross from the right-hand side, Knowles lifting the bouncing ball over the onrushing Lee Connell and into the unguarded net from a tight angle.
In a half of three goals there were remarkably few other chances. For United Simon Ainge - on loan but allowed to play - headed over the bar against his parent club while Darlington’s Campbell got goal-side of the away defence but tumbled down far too easily in the box, referee James Westgate unmoved.
Campbell bent an effort over Crook’s bar as the second half got underway, but again both sides hustled and bustled but failed to create anything clear-cut.
Debutant Martyn Woolford and Andi Thanoj replaced Nicky Walker and Tom Platt as United switched from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 close to the hour mark, but it was the hosts who again went closest.
The stranded Crook could only watch as O’Neill’s cheeky chip landed inches wide of the Pilgrims’ post.
But seconds later the United keeper pulled off a wondrous save to fingertip away Campbell’s goal-bound bender.
In stoppage time Jordan Thewlis’ goalbound volley somehow stayed out after hitting teammate Rollins on the line, and with that went United’s hopes on levelling.
DARLINGTON: Connell, Liddle, Watson, Wheatley, Storey, Galbraith, Rivers, Hatfield, Campbell, Holness (Laing 81), O’Neill (Armstrong 89); Subs (not used): Bell, Holliday, Elliott.
UNITED: Crook, Middleton (Gibbens 79), Whittle, Platt (Thanoj 57), Ainge, Shiels, Rollins, Abbott, Knowles, Thewlis, Walker (Woolford 57); Subs (not used): Jackson, Tuton.
REF: James Westgate.