Boston Town squandered two points in Saturday's crunch battle with fellow strugglers, Northampton Sileby Rangers, writes Pat Megginson.
A lack lustre second half proved crucial as the Poachers were clawed back from a two goal lead.
Boston started brightly, with youngster Fraser Bayliss shooting narrowly wide virtually straight from the opening kick off. He was involved again as a flowing move down Rangers' left saw him link up with Terry Fleming. The in form Alex Beck easily beat his man to the goal line but his telling cross managed to evade everyone.
The seventh minute saw Jack Dykes thread a perfect diagonal ball through the Rangers half which was cleared straight to Richard Ford, his goal bound shot being blocked by the hapless Craig Parker. On nine minutes Beck improvised an overhead kick floated just over Aaron Higgs' crossbar.
After the early home pressure, the game became somewhat scrappy. Michael Wood nearly profited from Higgs' spill from Parker's corner. The luckless left winger again tested the visiting keeper on 26 minutes, watching his free kick palmed round the post. But a minute later Town broke the deadlock - Richard Ford won the ball back in midfield and found Parker whose toe poke freed Beck to slot the ball past Higgs.
The visitors nearly leveled things three minutes later but missed an open goal as the home defence were at sixes and sevens. This was a momentary lapse and Town poured on the pressure. Beck, looking particularly sharp, pounced on a Sileby mistake on 33 minutes, only to fire over. Just before the half, Parker won a header which was latched on to by Dykes, his goal bound shot also being blocked.
Town started the second period with the same fervour, with Parker and beck linking up well on the left flank. The shot happy Dykes saw a long range effort go wide before Beck forced a fine save from Higgs on his near post. On 53 minutes the Poachers doubled their advantage, Ford winning yet another challenge and finding Parker who slid the ball inside to Beck for his 21st goal of the season.
Moments later Town thought they had a third but referee Mohammed mysteriously ruled out the goal seemingly for an illegal challenge by the incredulous Simon Ashton on the keeper.
This seemed to deflate Boston and they retreated, which would prove costly. Arguably Rangers' best player, Brian Farrell would make them pay, weaving through a hesitant Town defence on 61 minutes to notch a fine individual goal. As Sileby began to take the game to their hosts, Parnell replaced Bayliss. Rangers went close on 70 minutes when Wood deflected a free kick to safety.
For a second week running the diminutive Dykes was floored by an elbow, for which the visitors' Maarman only received a yellow, much to the disgust of the home bench and the DWB stadium crowd. Jason Field suffered a nasty looking injury a few minutes later and was replaced by Jason Callaby.
To add insult to injury, referee Mohamed sensationally awarded the visitors a penalty for handball on 87 minutes after Parker was struck at point blank range in the area. The grateful Farrell slotted the spot kick home for Rangers to record an unlikely draw. It might have been worse for Town as Danny Stevens could have been deemed lucky to receive a yellow for his challenge when last man. Bizarrely the man in the middle only added on a paltry three minutes of stoppage time, despite the Field injury and Dykes injury causing a good eight minutes of delays.
Ultimately Town paid the penalty for taking the foot off the gas and not seeing the game through to the end, something they have been guilty of on more than occasion this season.
TOWN: Doughty, Stevens, Field (Callaby), Ford, Wood, S Ashton, Dykes, Bayliss (Parnell), Beck, Fleming, Parker.
Photo courtesy of Mark Cockburn