Poachers 0, Hanley 1

Whisper it quietly but Boston Town are back.

That might sound like a strange thing to say after their eight-match unbeaten run came to an end in the FA Vase against highly-fancied Hanley Town.

But the manner of the performance was heartening as the Poachers more than held their own against opponents who boasted an array of ex-Premier League and Football League stars.

Many home supporters were full of praise for their side’s efforts – and applauded both sets of players at the end of what was a thoroughly entertaining game played in a good spirit.

Harry Limb came close to claiming a spectacular opener early on when he hit the bar after letting fly from 30 yards, with Hanley’s debutant keeper Kieran Harrison stranded.

Harrison can only watch as Limb’s shot clips the crossbar: Photo (c) Russell Dossett

There were also shouts for a possible penalty in the first half when Ryley Thompson went flying after challenging for a 50/50 ball with Harrison.

Could this have been a penalty? Photo (c) Russell Dossett

It was an absorbing contest throughout, and thoughts were just beginning to turn to the possibility of a penalty shoot-out when the visitors went 1-0 ahead through a header.

Town threw everything but the kitchen sink at their opponents in the last quarter of an hour as they sought an equaliser but Hanley hung on to progress.

The experienced Ryan Shotton – still playing for Middlesbrough in the Championship last year – was able to marshal his defence as Richard Ford’s long throws threatened to cause pandemonium.

Fordy was named Man of the Match for another barnstorming display – but you wouldn’t have argued with any number of other Boston players picking up the award. Jordan Tate and Ryley Thompson also showed great commitment at the back, Limb and Fraser Bayliss were a constant menace up front and Abou Sylla injected pace and trickery when he came on at half-time.

After years of disappointing finishes in the league, Boston Town finally seem to have a squad with the talent and self-belief to be a match for anyone.

Gary Edgley and his coaching team have instilled a level of confidence in these players that’s been missing for many years, and if they can continue to play on the front foot, they should be a force to be reckoned with the in the United Counties League Premier North.

And off the field, with the buzz that’s been brought to the DWB Stadium by the newly refurbished clubroom, the future’s looking brighter than it has for a long time.

The only disappointment (apart from the result) was the size of the crowd, the lowest of the season. This Poachers team deserve a bigger audience for their exciting brand of football.

Town: Woolley, Tate, Thompson, Ford, Mucklin, Dilley (Sylla), Ofushine, Smith, Bayliss (Cole), Limb, L White; unused subs: Millar, Kacirek, T White

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