Boston hold nerve to book place in promised land

Hayes 0 Boston United 2
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Boston United clinched promotion to the Football League with a 2-0 victory at relegated Hayes which secured the Nationwide Conference title on the final day of the season.

Dagenham & Redbridge, who had been locked in a hard-fought battle for the championship with the Pilgrims, won 3-0 at home to Chester to finish level with Boston on points but second on goal difference.

Goals from Simon Weatherstone and Ray Warbuton guaranteed Boston will be playing in the Third Division next season, even though the visitors were forced to play almost the entire second half with 10 men following Peter Costello's dismissal.

Steve Evans' side had made the perfect start, taking the lead in only the fourth minute at Church Road. James Gould's corner from the left was met with a firm header by Jim Rodwell which cannoned back off the bar and, as the home defence failed to clear the danger, Weatherstone lashed the ball home.

Hayes should have levelled in the 18th minute when Dean Clark's deflected free-kick caused confusion in the Boston defence but Richard Jolly sliced wide from close range. On the stroke of half-time Rodwell had to clear a Steve Daly header off the line as the Pilgrims continued to cause anxiety in the army of fans who had travelled down from Lincolnshire.

Those nerves showed just after the break when Costello thought he should have been awarded a penalty after going down in the area and, having been booked in the first half, was sent off for protesting.

Evans responded by bringing on Ray Warbuton in place of Neil Tarrant in midfield and almost immediately the experienced defender, who helped Rushden & Diamonds win the Conference last season, made the game safe for Boston. The Hayes defence failed to pick him up at a free-kick and Warburton powerfully headed home Mark Angel's 49th-minute cross from close-range.

From then on the result was never in doubt, Daryl Clare almost making it 3-0 late on with a vicious volley from the edge of the box, and the final whistle sparked a pitch invasion from the jubilant Boston fans.

Mark Stein's two goals and Tim Cole's late header secured victory for Dagenham over Chester but, despite finishing 14 points clear of Yeovil in third place, Garry Hill's side will have it all to do again next season.

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