Preston at the double as Boston United ease past Chester to complete impressive first week for Paul Cox

Boston United 4 Chester 0

Fraser Preston. Photo: Oliver Atkin
Fraser Preston. Photo: Oliver Atkin

Fraser Preston netted a brace as Boston United took three comfortable points from Chester.

Luke Shiels and Danny Elliott also got in on the act in the 4-0 victory which sees the Pilgrims maintain their place in the National League North play-offs.

That's now seven goals in two games since Paul Cox took his place in the dug-out, but just as pleasing is the back-to-back clean sheets that sees Boston back to a positive goal difference.

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A bad day at the office saw United beaten 4-0 at the Deva in November's reverse fixture, but today - after managerial changes at both clubs - it was the Seals' turn to look well below par, marking sloppily for the opening three United goals and not threatening until the hosts had well and truly taken their foot off the gas.

The Pilgrims will face sterner tests in the coming weeks, but given their chances in front of goal they displayed a pleasing ruthless streak that leaves Chester winless in five.

With James Hanson ruled out with a hamstring injury, Cox stuck with the starting XI that beat Farsley 3-0 in midweek, although a few tweaks were evident, most notably the introduction of Joe Leesley's long throw and a flatter six-man back line when preparing for an opposition attack.

Chester asked the early questions as low crosses into the United box from Darren Stephenson and David Fitzpatrick were begging for a final touch which never came.

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But two goals in three minutes put the Pilgrims in the driving seat.

After waiting more than a year for a goal, Shiels made it two in a week as he met Joe Leesley's corner unchallenged to nod beyond the rooted Louis Gray on the quarter hour mark.

Preston - another on the scoresheet in Tuesday's win against strugglers Farsley - doubled the advantage.

Elliott found space down the left against his former club, Gray not dealing with the low cross and Preston and Seals defender Simon Grand combining to bundle the ball over the line.

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It should have been three as Scott Duxbury met Shane Byrne's corner moments later, his powerful header fizzing wide of the Chester goal.

That third did arrive when a lobbed ball into the visitors' box was collected by Preston. The marking was woeful but Preston still had to control the ball and drill beyond Gray for his 10th of the season.

With just 34 minutes on the clock the hosts were very much in command.

Four minutes later and Chester mustered their first effort on goal, Rob Apter's hopeful 25-yarder hitting the roof of the Town End.

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United added their fourth of the game eight minutes into the second half. A clever turn and run from Preston saw him brought down in the box, Elliott placing the ball and netting his 19th of the season against his former club.

A rare Chester opportunity saw Stephenson put through on goal. Outpacing Matt Tootle his effort was comfortably parried by Marcus Dewhurst.

The United keeper pulled off the save of the match to push Marcus Dackers' close-range header over after the deep cross caught Shiels out and, as the Seals turned the screw, George Glendon curled a long-distance effort the wrong side of the Pilgrims goal.

Dewhurst ensured his clean sheet with a routune save from another Apter dig.

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Not a bad start Mr Cox.

UNITED: Dewhurst, Tootle, Duxbury (Sault 82), Platt, Shiels, Ferguson, Elliott, Dimaio, F. Preston, Leesley, Byrne. Subs (not used): Garner, J. Preston, Armond, Crook.

CHESTER: Gray, Roberts, Grand, Fitzpatrick, Glendon, Waring, Stephenson, Lacey (Horsfield HT), Apter, Williams, Simmonds (Dackers HT); Subs (not used): Burke, Askew, Stanway.

REF: Dean Watson.

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ATT: 1,654 (142).

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