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  • Writer's pictureHead Scout

Jimmy At The Double

Boston United 3-1 Alfreton Town (National League North)

I’m full of festive cheer. The weather is bright, it’s remarkably mild and there’s just two days to go until Christmas. What better way to spend the eve of Christmas eve at a game of non-league football in England.

Boston and Alfreton are both in the mix for the promotion push with playoff ambition to get back in the National League which the Pilgrims last played in way back in 2002 and the Reds last appeared in a little more recently from 2011 until 2015.

I’ve left it late and need some petrol so race off out before 1pm as I listen in to West Ham v Manchester United on the car radio, stopping off in Bingham for some unleaded E10 and continuing down the A52 towards Boston which I reach for 2pm, it’s already busy and my usual parking place on Field Drive is taken so I find a spot further down the road on Wallace Way which at least offers a faster exit strategy.

The Venue

The small crowds of people cross over the pelican crossing as cars stop to let us pass on the A16, I’m trotting past Costa and into the car park of the Jakemans Stadium, straight for the main doors of the ticket office and club shop where I join a small queue.

People are in line for matchday tickets as I wait at the same window to pick up a press pass, signing in before heading out and through the turnstile, up the steps to my seat where a scout I know from Grimsby is already sitting.

I’m joined by a chap from Bourne who’s a regular at Boston matches as we are handed out minced pies along with our team sheets by the club. The game is kids for a quid today so a nice atmosphere built, all three sides steadily filling, the right empty space behind one goal is still subject to completion, once done this will be a wonderful arena for football, modern and cool looking, a pitch flat and wide inviting for players both of Boston and their visitors for the day.

The Game

Those visitors, today are Alfreton and they fall behind early doors when Jimmy Knowles is allowed to tap home after rapid wing play by Sam Smart. A penalty however harshly awarded after a shot goes wide when the follow through of Zak Mills takes down an attacker leads to Jordan Thewlis levelling up, much to the disgruntlement of the home crowd.

It’s a lady referee today and she’s getting pelters for her performance, I hope Joey Barton isn’t watching after his controversial recent tweets as she struggles to get to grips on the game and awards some odd decisions.

The Score

Those decisions however are soon forgotten when Knowles grabs a second on seventy. He bundles over as Hazel plays him in before Keziah Martin makes it three and Alfreton can coast the final few minutes in the know, that even they can’t mess things up from here.

It’s an impressive performance from the home side who are deserved winners, it wasn’t a classic first half not helped by the whistle happy Ref but the better team in the second shone through, their commitment and aggressiveness on the day more than the away side as Alfreton were disappointing and unconvincing with their route one ploy which was easily dealt with.

The Stars

Michael Bostwick led from the back, as he headed and kicked everything that came his way. Sam Smart shown speed down the right whilst Jacob Hazel put in a good unselfish service for his team up top. Jimmy Knowles taking the plaudits with two well taken close range goals.

For Alfreton, Lewis Salmon for me is their main threat and an exciting young player to watch. Kennedy Digie whilst perhaps living life on the edge and close to being sent off, is full bodied, fully committed, a proper centre half who won every header and chopped everyone down who came his way.

The Verdict

A win to spur on a Boston pursuit of playoff places which they are good enough to reach, they need a consistent run to build momentum going into the business end of the season. Alfreton will most certainly be pushing too. Two very good sides for the level, very different in their approach, but teams you fell well enough equipped to make a challenge, and not only that, but also do very well at the level above.

The Teams

Boston United: Aaron Chapman, Zak Mills, Michael Bostwick, Tom Leak, Brad Nicholson, Sam Smart (Keaton Ward 81), Jordan Richards, Keziah Martin, Deji Sotona (Michael Gyasi 90), Jacob Hazel, Jimmy Knowles.

Alfreton Town: George Willis, Josh Clackstone, Kennedy Digie, Shaun Brisley (Dwayne Wiley 76), Nathan Newall, George Cantrill, Adam Lund, Lewis Salmon, Harry Perritt (Liam Waldock 75), Jordan Thewlis, Jake Day (Ryan Taylor 68).

3:00pm Kick Off. Saturday 23rd December 2023, Jakemans Stadium, Boston (att 1,688).

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