Boston’ With Joy, After Ball Goes In At The Death
The Hatters recovered from going two goals down to come away from Boston with a deserved draw that keeps them just one point away from the play-off positions.
But the result partially masks the dramatic manner in which County salvaged a point – with Jimmy Ball’s headed equaliser arriving at the end of five minutes added on by referee Sam Mulhall.
The ‘Pilgrims’ of Boston had looked to be heading for their first home win in over two months – and, having triumphed at Leamington a week previously, their first league back-to-back victories for more than a year – after scoring either side of half-time following trademark long-throw assists.
But Matty Warburton’s fifth goal in as many games, just before the hour was up, gave the Hatters hope, before a much-improved performance in the final 30 minutes culminated in that late leveller.
County had earlier taken to the field in the mid-November sunshine with just one change from the line-up against FC United seven days earlier. Callum Mantack was handed his first start within a 4-2-3-1 formation, in place of Ben McKenna who was ruled out because of a foot injury.
An initially uneventful contest had to wait 20 minutes for a first effort on target. Mantack was teed up to shoot by Bohan Dixon, but the Oldham loanee’s effort was parried by home goalkeeper George Willis.
Ten minutes later, Boston took the lead. Throw-ins from Sam Muggleton – son of one-time County ‘keeper Carl – had already caused consternation in the County box, and his fourth of the day, from the right and on the half-hour mark, was headed in by Gregg Smith three yards out.
HALF-TIME: Boston 1 (Smith, 30), County 0.
The second half began with four further Muggleton long throws in as many minutes, before another – this time from the left – was palmed away by Ben Hinchliffe while under pressure from Ashley Hemmings – but only as far as Jay Rollins, who stole in at the far post to rifle home.
The Hatters needed to respond quickly, and were given a lifeline six minutes later when Stephen O’Halloran was fouled by Rollins, and Warburton, from 25 yards, curled the consequential free kick around Boston’s wall and into the bottom-right corner for his 11th goal in all competitions.
County, duly inspired, began to press forward some more – with Dixon firing a low drive from outside the home area that Willis dived to smother.
But the hosts were looking to restore their two-goal advantage. And between spells of County pressure, Smith fired over from the edge of the box, while an attempt at greater distance from Brad McGowan was deflected past the left upright by the narrowest of margins.
With five minutes of additional time allowed – not least in the wake of several attempts by Boston to slow the game down – the Pilgrims had a gilt-edged opportunity to seal victory, after substitute Tyrell Waite squared from the right to Smith, only for the latter to slide in and fire high and wide with the goal at his mercy.
The possibility of a 3-1 defeat then turned into the much happier reality of a 2-2 draw, as Warburton sent Scott Duxbury down the left to cross for the waiting Ball to head in at close range – and in front of the Town End that housed the County Faithful.
Suffice to say, there was ‘More Than a Feeling’ of excitement among the Twelfth Man Representatives in Boston. And why not? The Hatters might have left it late – but, as the afternoon went on, there had ultimately been some very pleasing Progress against the Pilgrims!
FULL-TIME: Boston 2 (Smith, 30; Rollins, 53), County 2 (Warburton, 59; Ball, 90 + 5).
Team: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury, Ball, Clarke (Capt.), O’Halloran (Thomas, 76), Mantack (Walker, 82), Stopforth, Oswell, Dixon (Stephenson, 76), Warburton.
Unused Subs: Smalley, Ormson.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Pics: Mike Petch