Tuesday 2nd August 2011 at the Northolme
Lincolnshire Senior Shield Semi Final
Gainsborough Trinity (1) 1
(Darryn Stamp 22)
Boston United (1) 2
(Kevin Holsgrove 32, Mikel Suarez 72)
Admission £8, no programme issued,
Free team sheets, Attendance 355
Phil Barnes; Dominic Roma, Andrew Boyce, Gavin Cowan, Rory Coleman; Ryan Williams (Michael Leary 60), Shane Clarke (Luke Waterfall 80), Jonathan D’Laryea, Jamie Yates (Lewis McMahon 60); Darryn Stamp, Ryan Kendall.
Subs (not used): Ryan Paczkowski, Mark Gray.
Paul Bastock; Lee Canoville, Tom Ward, Kevin Austin, Gareth Jelleyman; Ben Wilkinson (Danny Sleath 60), Chris Hall, Ben Milnes; Ryan Semple, Mikel Suarez, Kevin Holsgrove (Marc Newsham 67).
Subs (not used): Julian Joachim, Mickey Stones, Jordan Fairclough.
Ex factor night at the Northolme.
Boston United featured 5 ex Trinity players in their squad tonight, while the home side featured 4 ex Pilgrims.
Certainly the two squads tonight and the Lincs FA dictated admission prices indicated that this game was 'for real'.
"Welcome to our visitors from Boston to North Lincolnshire, the best bit of the county" proclaimed the match day announcer as the teams came out to the strains of 'Blue Moon'.
I don't think I would be accused of being too unkind if I suggested a slight tweak in the title to 'Blue Moan', giving the sometimes less than cheery disposition of some of the faithful on the Carlisle Street terrace at this smashing old ground.
I guess years of devoting your life to a non league football team can get you that way and the Trinity foot soldiers are certainly not alone in that respect.
If I was a Trinity fan - and despite the allegations, I'm actually not - I would be gutted that they lost this one.
Sure, United's perseverance and 'never say die' attitude contributed in no small way to their victory, but it was Trinity's lack of sharpness and no small measure of misfortune in front of goal that was ultimately their undoing, combined with a rather curious change of tact (and tactics) when they appeared to have the Pilgrims on the ropes at virtually at their mercy.
Thrills, spills and self harming, this game had it all!
When Darren Stamp powered home a header from a Jamie Yates corner on 22 minutes to open the scoring, it would be no exaggeration to say that Trinity could've already been 3 goals to the good.
Paul Bastock, the 'time served' Boston keeper, had pulled off a great save from Ryan Kendall, Jamie Yates smashed an effort against the post and the visitors captain Gareth Jelleyman cleared Gavin Cowan's header off the goal line as Gainsborough came out of the blocks straight from the word go.
Against the run of play, Kevin Holsgrove equalised for Boston just after half an hour. Ben Milnes found Holsgrove with a neat pass on the edge of the box and United's number 11 evaded a half hearted challenge from Gavin Cowan before taking aim and burying an unstoppable shot past Phil Barnes.
1-1 was the half time score, but that flattered the visitors somewhat and it beggared belief that Trinity hadn't taken the lead again when Jamie Yates stung the crossbar with a powerful shot and Ryan Williams had his close range effort cleared off the line by Kevin Austin.
The second half continued in much the same vein, until with an hour on the clock, the Trinity manager Brian Little substituted Ryan Williams & Jamie Yates and changed the formation around. Why?
I've heard that 'Willo' had taken a knock and needed replacing, but the resilient little play maker looked as if he'd run it off and was still imposing himself on the game. Yates had been booked and apparently Brian Little didn't want to risk a second yellow card and more disciplinary points ahead of the new season. But the booking came just before half time so why not make the change then if that was the reason/excuse?*
Either way, Boston will have pleased to see the back of both players who'd been very effective against them tonight.
Kevin Austin went close for Boston, but then Trinity switched play to the far end again where Paul Bastock showed incredible agility and ability, when he denied Ryan Kendall a scoring opportunity.
What a great club man Bastock has been for the Pilgrims.
That save, along with the change of personnel and tactics by Trinity on the hour, were the turning points of the game.
And as is often the case when a team squanders a glut of chances and doesn't take advantage of the lions share of possession they've been enjoying, Trinity were hit with a sucker punch and fell behind to a Mikel Suarez goal in the 72nd minute.
Rory Coleman (he formerly played for Boston on loan), made a real mess of keeping the ball in play and Ryan Semple (he formerly played for Trinity) seized on the opportunity to hook a right wing cross over to Mikel Suarez who headed home the winning goal for the visitors.
Suarez took it well, but frankly, he couldn't miss from an inch perfect cross like that.
Semple had been fired up and playing well against his former club all night and though he'd had a few verbals aimed his way from one or two Blues fans, I'm sure they would love to see him back at the Northolme in Trinity's colours any time soon.
With 10 minutes remaining Marc Newsham and Shane Clarke went for the ball together on the touchline and Clarke ended up on the floor with what looked like a very nasty neck injury. I hope the Trinity number 6 isn't hurt too badly when the damage is assessed, but for the record, there was no malice or intent on the part of Newsham, himself an ex Gainsborough player.
The injury did take the shine off of what had been a compelling game.
Trinity tried to muster up a last push to draw level and force a penalty shoot out - there would've been no extra time in the event of a draw, just penalties straight after the 90 minutes (plus stoppages) had been played - but it was now a case of too little too late (no pun intended) and the home side were left to rue not taking Boston apart earlier in the game when they were dominating proceedings.
So Boston United are through to the final and Trinity got nothing for winning the percentages game, it's goals that count.
Grantham Town take on Stamford AFC on Saturday in the second Lincs Senior Shield Semi Final