Boston United 1-0 Gloucester City (National League North)
After seeing it in a shop in Newcastle on Wednesday I decided to buy the 2023/24 Non-League Club Directory on Amazon where it was £4 cheaper than in store price. It arrived yesterday.
Now I know my stuff… More prepared on the football pyramid than ever before as I browse details on the last time Gloucester came to Boston on January 7th of this year, it looked a cracker too, a Desmond Tutu with a last minute equaliser from Scott Pollock in front of 1,316… A quick look in this guide has me nudging club media personnel with assurance… Reeling off stats in football is one way to get the locals on your side.
Not that I’ve needed it though, Boston is a lovely town and they seem to have taken to me, which is why I suppose, I keep on going back.
It's Saturday lunchtime and all in good time I’ve set off down the A52 for my second visit to Lincolnshire this week. Through Grantham where there’s a queue of cars turning right at McDonald’s causing tailback and an annoying delay, up and over the fields of loneliness and through villages like Donington, Bicker Bar and Kirton End before reaching Wyberton.
It’s a quick walk from Scott Drive where I park as I toy with the idea of grabbing a coffee from Starbucks or Costa but decide against it. Getting on for 2pm I head straight for the ticket office where I get my pass. “your names on the ticket my lovely” the woman behind the counter says...
I’m through the turnstile with a scan of my ticket, a quick wee and a wash of my hands before ordering a cuppa and a mars bar, pouring the milk in my brew it’s still quiet under the stand as I make my way out pitch side where a couple of Boston Coaches are chatting outside the tunnel entrance.
The playing surface here is immaculate and it must be a real treat at this level for players to play here. Your eyes open with a nod of approval when you walk out the tunnel to see the smart modern arena for the first time, the pitch is perfect, wide and lush and suitable for a ‘no excuses’ passing brand which every footballer secretly wants to play.
I’m in my usual seat, desk flipped down and note books out around twelve rows up, I’m flicking through my new non league guide as I write the teams down from the team sheet passed to me.
There’s a rainbow over the stadium as the two teams kick off. Gloucester reached the playoffs last season but not a single player survives, Manager Mike Cook is new in his role after the sacking of Tim Flowers in September but things haven’t gone well for a side in the relegation places.
Boston are above them in the table but are by no means great shakes themselves after home loss v Banbury on Tuesday. This is a must win for them as they look to avoid getting sucked in, and they start well, feisty and up for the challenge with a better tempo than in midweek, although both teams seem to lack class in the forwards department.
Kelsey Mooney who I was impressed with against Banbury is kept relatively quiet, his strike partner Jimmy Knowles looks to have pace and can carry the ball but is easily containable. At the other end 38 year old Danny Wright up top on his own is an isolated figure. Chances are few and far between in a half where the home side are the aggressors, but the visitors dig in and defend, word from the crowd is they’re not totally happy with how things are going.
That changes soon into the second half though as Keaton Ward picks the ball up outside the eighteen yard box and is urged to shoot by the Boston faithful. He does so, low, left footed, to perfection in the corner of the net as sprawling goalkeeper Jeacock can’t get near it. An opening goal from a player whose played well. Boston at last have something to smile about.
The home side are dominant but a shot on the volley from nowhere has Pilgrims goalkeeper Cameron Gregory diving to his right to keep out and push away for a corner. I’m discussing the importance of having a top keeper with the Jakemans PA announcer as Gregory’s solid performances since arriving suggest he’s been the difference in a point or two, especially when he makes memorable saves like that.
Another player impressing is Zak Mills who I’ve seen a bit of but this is his best performance I’ve witnessed from him so far. He’s been immense from right back all afternoon where he’s getting space to attack. He’s showboating in the opposition corner before being announced as man of the match and substituted with a few minutes left, clearly having blown out of steam having given his all on the day.
Those minutes tick agonisingly long as four plus during injury time roll over into six but Boston hang on, helped late by a red card for Wright who’s frustrated up top alone. He’s stuck out an elbow into the face of an opponent and trots off without complaint to the laughs and jeers of the home fans singing ‘cheerio’.
Michael Bostwick is that old-skool centre half you need on days like this where you have to dig in and he was exceptional next to Brad Nicholson whilst Zak Mills had his best Boston game in front of my eyes.
Midfielders Woods and Ward also enjoying good games, battling away and getting the better of their Gloucester counterparts who shown little on the day other than fighting spirit and a will to compete until the end.
Their best player perhaps in Alefe Santos who got around the pitch in unspectacular fashion but was quick to press as the away sides star playmakers Elliot Durrell and Harry Pinchard struggled to impose themselves against more physical opponents.
It looks to me like it’ll be a long hard slog for Gloucester who lacked firepower and creativity to threaten Boston who aren’t exactly firing on all fours themselves.
I do see potential in a upwards Pilgrimage for Ian Culverhouse and his boys but it seems for every step forward there’s two taken back. They’ll be ok but a club like this should be doing better than ok, they continue to punch well below their weight because what I see when I come to Boston is a league side in the making. If more off the pitch than on it, that is.
Boston United: Cameron Gregory, Ethan Septhon (Dylan Hill 55), Brad Nicholson, Michael Bostwick, Zak Mills, Keaton Ward, Martin Woods, Jordan Richards, Jimmy Knowles, Keziah Martin, Kelsey Mooney.
Gloucester City: Zach Jeacock, Tyrone Duffus, Elliott Durrell (Kai Churchley 72), Louis McGrory (Max Ram 31), Danny Wright, Harry Pinchard (Joe Parker 46), Joe Hanks, Ben Richards-Everton, Alefe Santos, Harry Leeson, Harry Emmett.
3:00pm Kick Off. Saturday 28th October 2023, Jakemans Stadium, Boston (att 1,331).