BOSTON UNITED 2 FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 3: Defeat number six for Pilgrims

Liam Agnew.Liam Agnew.
Liam Agnew.
As they say, it's the hope that kills you.

There were new signings. Both offered plenty and both played well. But as the full-time whistle blew it was the same old story for Boston United.

Midweek arrivals Liam Agnew and Dion-Curtis Henry - for parts of today’s contest - looked as if they could refresh the Pilgrims’ flagging fortunes, possibly help the team to just their second win of the season.

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But as the full-time whistle blew FC United of Manchester left the Jakemans Stadium with the 3-2 win and the points, comdemning Dennis Greene’s side to defeat number six from eight games played and dropping a place to 18th.

Frustrations are starting to boil over in Boston.

As Greene left the pitch, flanked by a steward on each side, some supporters gathered to call for his head, others applauded.

While some think the manager deserves more time, some have had enough.

But those contrasting shows of support and discontent sum up the Jekyll and Hyde showings we have seen from the club so far this campaign, magnified by today’s performance.

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At times they look exciting and composed, then stupid decisions at vital moments prove costly.

Twice the hosts fought from a goal down to level, but if you continue to concede then there will come a time when your strikers can’t keep bailing you out, and yet again that was the case.

And if things felt like they couldn’t get any worse, Joe Burgess left the pitch on crutches, likely to add to long-enough injury list.

It’s not been the happiest of starts to the season for the Pilgrims boss, but today both of his midweek dealings performed well.

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Agnew took just 28 minutes to find the net on his return to the Jakemans Stadium, confidently slotting his penalty kick down to middle and away from the dive of Jonathan Musangu.

Agnew was a boy the last time he pulled on a United shirt, in the final game of the 2013-14 campaign.

But the midfielder returned a man, those years spent with Sunderland’s first team bringing a greater swagger to his game.

Agnew’s impact on the National League North contest was almost instant as his early free kick was met by Gregg Smith, only for the target man to see his looping header hit the roof of the net.

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Seconds later and the midfielder was there, prodding the ball beyond the onrushing Musangu and being taken out.

Referee Ricky Wootton opted to play the advantage but, from a tight angle, Jay Rollins couldn’t slot into the unguarded net.

At the other end teenage keeper Henry - making his debut after joining on loan from Peterborough United, and replacing the injured Christian Dibble between the sticks - pulled off a series of impressive saves which, as hindsight showed, kept his team very much in the contest.

He had already held onto Tom Greaves’ strike and palmed away George Thomson’s swerving free kick before the Rebels edged in front in the 23rd minute.

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The two FC United attackers linked well, Greaves given the simplest of tap-ins following Thomson’s clever square pass.

United were level five minutes later, Agnew marking his return after Dale Tonge’s needless trip on Jason St Juste - Boston’s first goal from a penalty this season and their third attempt, all from the same spot.

But another five minutes was all it took for the away side to take the lead again.

Chris Chantler’s cross evaded Henry, the only blot on his copybook all afternoon, striking Greaves on the back of the head and bouncing over the goalline, without the forward knowing too much about it.

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But Boston were level again - you’ve guessed it - five minutes later thanks to another piece of hands-ver-the-eyes defending from Tonge.

This time the right back let Joe Robinson’s long punt forward go over his head.

As he turned to goal he saw Rollins sprint into the position he should have been guarding before placing his tight-angled effort high beyond the reach of Musangu.

Deep into first-half stoppage time Henry was called upon again to claw Tom Eckersley’s close-range header round his post.

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There was more from the 18-year-old after the break, getting enough purchase on Matt Wolfenden’s los strike to divert it wide, via the base of his post.

In response, United’s Marcus Marshall - having by far his finest game since his summer arrival - curled a 20-yarder inches over the away side’s bar.

But with 69 minutes on the clock FC United were ahead for the third time, Jason Gilchrist - on for Wolfenden - capitalising on the ball pinballing in the Pilgrims’ penalty area and slotting into the open net.

From then on Boston looked bright on the break but never tested Musangu again, that hope fading with every minute.

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UNITED: Henry, Burgess (Price 25), Maguire, Robinson, Wildin, Marshall (Hilliard 73), Pepe-Ngoma, Agnew, St Juste (Johnson 73), Rollins, Smith; Subs: McMillan, Adams.

FCUM: Musangu, Tonge, Chantler, Kay, Eckersley, Ashworth, Wolfenden (Gilchrist 59), Sheridan (Lowe 70), Greaves, Thomson (Glynn 86), Winter; Subs: Williams, Pratt.

Ref: Ricky Wootton.

Att: Att: 1,424 (303).