Boston players' off-field drama

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The Independent Online

Boston United's determination to stage their New Year's Day Nationwide Conference game with Nuneaton Borough could have had tragic consequences.

After extensive hard work by the Pilgrims' ground staff, a crowd of 3,001, easily Boston's biggest of the season, turned out at York Street to watch the only Conference game not to be postponed prior to kick-off on Tuesday. But the big freeze could not be overcome, and the match was abandoned with the scoresheet blank just prior to half-time.

There was more drama off than on the pitch for some of Boston's squad that day. Four players were lucky to escape serious injury in a car crash en route to Lincolnshire. Three were slightly hurt: Mark Clifford and Simon Rusk were unable to make the starting line-up, while Dion Scott was able to play. A fourth player, Gez Murphy, was not hurt.

The abandonment cost Boston the chance to extend their lead over Dagenham & Redbridge at the top of the Conference to five points. With the Daggers due to meet Ipswich Town in the FA Cup tomorrow, the Pilgrims will have another opportunity to increase their advantage if the Belle Vue pitch is passed fit for their trip to Doncaster Rovers.

Morecambe have emerged as the most likely challengers to the top two. Three wins and two draws in December lifted the Shrimps to third place and earned Jimmy Harvey the Nationwide manager of the month for the Conference. "We're just pleased to be up at the right end," Harvey said, after acknowledging the promise of his young squad. "The average age is around 22. The talent is there, they just need time."

Chester City are considering their options as they seek their third manager of the season. Among the candidates to replace Steve Mungall are former manager Graham Barrow, the ex-Southport and Oxford United manager Mark Wright, and Jake King, currently in charge at Telford United.

Barrow, who is now assistant manager at Bury, reportedly wants to return to Chester for a third spell in charge of the club. Stephen Vaughan, the chairman of the Conference strugglers, has admitted that Barrow would be a "popular choice" with the fans.

Wright did well to make part-time Southport one of the league's better sides last term, while King is having to cope with financial cutbacks at Telford, who are due to entertain Chester tomorrow.

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