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Match Report


Posted Sat 13 Sep 14 at 20:35 PM

More Than A (Good) Feeling!

It may be less than ideal (at least, so far as these ears are concerned) to mis-appropriate the title of a ‘70s soft rock anthem by a group that shared its name with today’s opponents, but, after doing Boston Tea Party gags to death in today’s match programme and Twitter feed, I am afraid it will have to do!

What REALLY matters is that, this afternoon, the Hatters made it three home victories on the bounce, and a third consecutive three-goal haul, following a game and a County performance that were undoubtedly the best seen at Edgeley Park for some considerable time.

County’s line-up showed two changes from that which had earned a draw at Hednesford seven days previously. One player’s absence was, of course, pre-ordained - Jamie Milligan having to sit this one out in the Main Stand, by way of his one-match ban for the red card he picked up at Stalybridge on August Bank Holiday Monday. As part of Alan Lord’s re-shuffle for the afternoon, Glenn Belezika dropped to the bench, while Kristian Dennis and Bobby Lofthouse were handed their first starts since, respectively, the defeat at Guiseley and the current season. Stephen O’Halloran took the Captain’s armband on loan from Milligan, and Mark Lees began the game in midfield, as County adopted a 4-3-3 formation against visitors who had yet to lose on their travels this term.

Boston’s line-up included a former County player in Carl Piergianni - forming part of the defence which, rather wackily, had let in seven at home to Oxford City in midweek.

The match looked to be an open one from the off. County’s two earliest chances - one on each flank - fell to the ever-industrious Scott Spencer, on whom good fortune will surely soon shine as he looks to convert that elusive first competitive goal in a blue shirt. At the other end, Piergianni, as well as his fellow central defender and Captain, Scott Garner, added some weight to the Boston attack as and when the visitors broke forward.

An opener never felt far away, and when one came it was County’s. Just like the Hatters’ most recent goal, at Hednesford, Jack Ryan got himself successfully on the end of a corner - on this occasion, delivered by Lofthouse and converted by means of a bullet of a header.

A little after half an hour, County were forced to make an early substitution, when Richie Baker pulled up, struggling with a hamstring injury. Belezika replaced the unfortunate attacking midfielder - and slotted into his usual right-back position, while Lees moved into midfield.

Five minutes later, Danny Hurst was called into serious action for the first time, parrying out for a corner a rising drive from the Pilgrims’ leading scorer, Dayle Southwell. The danger was not over for County, however. From Jamie McGhee’s corner, Piergianni rose, unmarked, to head home and equalize against his former club.

Another five minutes passed, another goal came along. And, in the most polite English of ways, it was rightly County’s turn to convert - Dennis launching himself among flailing boots to bundle the ball home, after some good work from Scott Duxbury down the left. With just a minute of normal time to go before the break, the timing could hardly have been better.

HALF-TIME: County 2 (Ryan, 21; Dennis, 44), Boston 1 (Piergianni, 39).

As the second half began, it was clear that the end-to-end entertainment had further life in it. Of particular note was a second excellent, point-blank save by Hurst from Southwell - especially at a stage in the game when a second equalizer could well have seen the Pilgrims take control and... erm, Progress.

Five minutes into the half, a goal did arrive - in front of a jubilant Cheadle End. Dennis bagged his second of the afternoon, and his fifth of the campaign (thereby moving him into pole position in this term’s County scorers’ chart), when he ghosted into the Boston area and rifled home after the visitors had failed to clear a corner and Chris Churchman’s follow-up shot.

The two-goal lead did not signal any let-up on County’s part - and a good spell of pressure followed, with corners galore, a number of narrowly high and wide attempts on goal from the likes of Dennis, Ryan and - with his now-customary long-range strike almost every game - Scott Duxbury. The introduction of Nathan Woolfe for Lofthouse, who had picked up a knock to his ankle following, arguably, his most accomplished performance for County, gave the home side an extra dimension with a series of useful crosses. For good measure, the former Hednesford winger usefully took over corner-kicking duties from the player that he had replaced, too.

With seven minutes still on the clock, Boston, having looked down and out, scored a second. Again, both McGhee and (continuing the curse of returning former Hatters) Piergianni were involved - the former’s free kick being headed into the County box by the latter, before Southwell stabbed the ball in from close range.

It seemed inconceivable that County could drop points after being much the better side since the break - but, of course, life at EP isn’t always like that, and a nervy closing spell was in prospect.

To their great credit, the Hatters kept possession well, and there were no moments of real anxiety as the game was played out. Not to say, mind you, that the drama was well and truly over. Piergianni, who, on his return to SK3, had made his presence felt to positive effect all afternoon, rather blotted his copybook with a horribly desperate challenge on Chris Sharp, earning himself a straight red card and an ever-so-slightly early bath.

A marvellously entertaining contest, all told. And another emphatic passage in the evolving story of Fortress Edgeley’s re-construction - to be continued, let us hope, when Worcester come a-visiting on Tuesday night.

FULL-TIME: County 3 (Ryan, 21; Dennis, 44 and 50), Boston 2 (Piergianni, 39; Southwell, 83).

Team: Hurst, Lees, Duxbury, Churchman, Gregson, O’Halloran, Dennis, Baker (Belezika, 34), Spencer (Sharp, 74), Lofthouse (Woolfe, 56), Ryan.

Unused Subs: Ormson, Fagbola.

Booked: Ryan.

Attendance: 2,585.

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