THERE is, of course, one “l” of a difference between Boston and Bolton.
York City manager Gary Mills, though, was demanding the same approach from his players to Saturday’s meeting with the part-time Pilgrims that he is no doubt guaranteed for next month’s FA Cup third round trip to the Premier League high-fliers.
The 1-0 defeat, in which his side failed to reproduce their impressive form of recent weeks, therefore, clearly irked the Minstermen chief.
While the club would need to pull off one of the game’s biggest shocks of all time to progress beyond their third round trip to the Reebok Stadium, Mills genuinely believed his team could lift the FA Trophy at Wembley in May.
Consequently, the City boss decided against the rotation policy adopted in the same competition by his predecessor Martin Foyle last season and fielded what he considered to be his strongest side in the first round clash at Bootham Crescent.
He was disappointed, however, by the players’ response and was probably left to reflect at the final whistle whether he might have, indeed, been better served giving the likes of Levi Mackin and Chris Carruthers run-outs.
It cannot be forgotten how well the side has performed recently in that pair’s absence and any criticism of Saturday’s display must be considered in that context but, with players of their calibre still waiting in the wings after long injury lay-offs, Mills will find Mackin and Carruthers’ claims for recalls to the squad difficult to ignore if there are any more off days like this one.
City remained committed to playing attractive football from the start against Boston but too many careless passes went astray in the early stages as new signing Andre Boucaud tried to find his feet in midfield.
The visitors also worked hard to force such mistakes.
As a result, neither side managed a shot until the 26th minute when Danny Racchi aimed wide from 15 yards after Robbie Weir’s fierce drive was bravely blocked by Lee Canoville.
The first corner had only been won four minutes earlier when right-back James Cullingworth headed over his own bar with Michael Rankine breathing down his neck to meet an Ashley Chambers cross.
It was Boston that broke the deadlock, however, on 30 minutes.
Jamie Yates’ scuffed corner from the right should have caused few problems for the home team but Weir’s sliced clearance fell kindly on to the head of Boston striker Spencer Weir-Daley at the far post and he opened the scoring from close range.
At the other end, City failed to test former Peterborough ’keeper James McKeown before the break, although Chambers sent a curling effort over the crossbar after cutting in from the left following James Meredith’s searching ball down the flank.
Boston’s second – and final – goal attempt of the afternoon came three minutes into the second half when Anthony Church’s ambitious 35-yard effort failed to unduly trouble Michael Ingham.
The Lincolnshire side then sat back and depended on the defensive resilience that has seen them keep 13 clean sheets in 16 league games and were content to leave substitute Danny Davidson alone up front for the closing stages.
While City threw on Peter Till and Leon Constantine in their bid for an equaliser and dominated possession for most of the remainder of the game, McKeown continued to enjoy a quiet afternoon. He was only fully stretched on one occasion when he produced a flying save to keep out Boucaud’s 78th-minute rising drive.
The hosts might have had a penalty earlier in the half when the sliding York-born defender Shaun Pearson threw up an arm and handled Chambers’ 20-yard shot.
Rankine also headed wide at the far post from Daniel Parslow’s cross and fired off target from the edge of the box after he had drilled a free-kick into the Boston wall and then saw a follow-up effort blocked too.
The 6ft 3in striker went on to glance another header wide from a Till corner and stabbed a great chance straight at McKeown when picked out by an excellent centre from Parslow.
Deep into stoppage time, Chambers then lifted an edge-of-the-box effort over McKeown’s bar and, seconds later, the Pilgrims’ progress to the second round was confirmed.
York City 0, Boston United 1 (Weir-Daley 30)
York City: Michael Ingham 6, Daniel Parslow 7, David McGurk 7, Chris Smith 6, James Meredith 7, Andre Boucaud 6, Robbie Weir 5, Danny Racchi 5, Ashley Chambers 5, Michael Rankine 5, David McDermott 6.
Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.
City’s star man: Parslow – showed usual commitment to the cause, overlapped willingly and delivered several decent crosses.
Boston United: James McKeown; James Cullingworth, Shaun Pearson, Lee Canoville, Gareth Jelleyman; Ryan Semple (Danny Sleath, 80), Shane Clarke, Anthony Church, Jamie Yates (Danny Davidson, 69); Marc Newsham (John Williams, 83), Spencer Weir-Daley.
Subs not used: Miles Hunter, Harry Deane.
Yellow cards: Racchi 18, Church 52, Chambers 85, Davidson 90.
Red cards: None.
Shots on target: York 2, Boston 2.
Shots off target: York 7, Boston 0.
Corners: York 8, Boston 2.
Fouls: York 8, Boston 10.
Offsides: York 1, Boston 3.
Referee: Colin Harwood (Swinton, Manchester) rating: made a couple of glaring errors and should have probably awarded City a penalty.
Attendance: 1,318 (164 Boston fans).
Head to head - Michael Rankine v Shaun Pearson
City supporter Pearson refused to be intimidated by his 6ft 3in opponent and Rankine was involved in a verbal spat within seconds of the start when the Boston centre back made sure his presence was felt.
Rankine did win his fair share of headers but Pearson and his fellow defenders were alert and determined enough to pick up the pieces.
The former Woodthorpe Primary School pupil perhaps deserved a stroke of luck when his second-half handball went unpunished and left with a cut eye for a memento of his Bootham Crescent visit, getting caught by Sangare after displaying a willingness to put his head in where it hurts.