There were many teams relieved simply to make the starting gate as the wire went on up the Nationwide season yesterday, but none perhaps as much as Boston United. After winning the Conference last May, Boston survived a June and July so gloomy that it could have only happened in British summer time.
A scrappy 2-2 draw against Bournemouth was hardly the stuff of York Street's dreams for its first game in the Football League, but one thing they have learnt in these parts is to accept small mercies. Many believe that the club were lucky to keep their newly acquired status when found guilty on six charges of financial irregularities. Demotion back to the Conference seemed a formality but the Football League took pity and opted for a £100,000 fine – and a four-point penalty.
The green light came three weeks ago, and such was the rush that the strips only arrived late on Friday, the names being affixed in yesterday's early hours. Indeed, the players looked under-prepared and after yesterday's point they still have three more to find before they can wipe the slate clean. Without their inspirational manager, Steve Evans, who is suspended until next month's FA hearing into his part in the mess, Boston will find them hard to come by.
If not a hill, then they have an imposing slope to scale, and they did little yesterday to suggest that they can level the gradient without a fight. Pilgrims rarely indulge in honeymoon periods, and this ragged lot's lasted just nine minutes before Shaun Maher rose to head home James Hayter's corner. It took 28 minutes for Simon Weatherstone to muster Boston's first shot in League football and even this, a half-hearted miskick, dribbled wide. What was supposed to be an historic day for the Lincolnshire market town was in danger of becoming one they would rather forget until three goals in four minutes at the start of the second half ensured that this afternoon would stick in the memory.
Where Boston's equaliser would come from was anyone's guess and that the next goal was delivered from a Bournemouth boot was no surprise. To the new boys' delight, however, Neil Young's clearance of a Weatherstone free-kick scuttled past his own goalkeeper, Chris Tardif. They had waited 68 years for their first League goal, but the wait for the next one would not be as pronounced. Three minutes, to be exact, until James Gould latched on to a Jamie Cook through-ball before pinging a left-foot drive past Tardif in the 54th minute.
The celebration was short-lived, as from the kick-off Warren Feeney put Brian Stock through to equalise with a 20-yard, right-foot strike.
But after stumbling through the door of the League, Boston were now finding their feet. Indeed, if Daryl Clare could have found the inside rather than the outside of Tardif's post deep into injury time, they might even have awoken this morning only one point in the black. The Boston glee party will have to wait.
Boston United 2
Young og 52, Gould 54
Mayes 9, Stock 54
Half-time 0-1 Attendance: 4,184
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