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Sunday, 28 April, 2002, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Boston seal promotion
Simon Weatherstone receives the congratulations of his team-mates
Weatherstone set Boston on their way early on
Hayes 0-2 Boston

Boston held their nerve to clinch promotion to the Football League as Conference champions with a hard-fought final day win at Hayes.

An early goal in each half from Simon Weatherstone and substitute Ray Warburton respectively saw Steve Evans' side edge out Dagenham & Redbridge in the title race.

But they were made to work hard for their win after being reduced to 10 men a minute into the second half when Peter Costello was sent off for a second yellow card.

Within 20 seconds of his entrance however Warburton, with his first touch, headed home a free-kick to put Boston in command.


That was a championship-winning header
Steve Evans

And they held out to ensure League football for the first time in their history, in their first season as a fully-professional club.

Boston ultimately triumphed on goal difference from Dagenham, who had to settle for second place despite leading the Conference for much of the season.

Tied on points at the outset but with a huge goals advantage, Boston knew that victory would see them replace relegated Halifax Town.

And they eased any early nerves by taking the lead after just four minutes

Hayes keeper Nicky Bull parried captain Paul Ellender's initial effort, and from the resulting corner, centre half Jim Rodwell powered a header against the bar.

But Hayes, already relegated, were unable to clear and Weatherstone cracked home a left-foot volley into the roof of the net.

Boston striker Daryl Clare
Top scorer Clare was a constant threat

Manager Evans had recalled the experienced Neil Tarrant in attack alongside the Conference's top scorer Daryl Clare.

But he was forced into an enforced change early on when Simon Rusk limped off with a suspected broken foot to be replaced by Andy Lodge.

Lodge almost created a second in the 12th minute when his left-wing cross was met with a spectacular overhead kick from Mark Angel that went narrowly wide.

But Hayes' young side refused to roll over and first Steve Daly, and then Kevin Warner both came close to levelling from free-kicks that Boston struggled to deal with.

And the visitors suffered another scare a minute before the interval when keeper Paul Bastock - a veteran of more than 500 games for the club - failed to gather a floated ball into the box.

Daly's header seemed destined for goal only for Rodwell to perform a volleyed clearance off the line.

Instant dividends

But Boston appeared to have shot themselves in the foot a minute into the second half when Costello, already booked before the break, was sent off for dissent after he was refused a penalty.

Two minutes later manager Steve Evans opted to replace a forward, Tarrant, with a defender, Warburton, in an attempt to preserve Boston's lead.

But remarkably the switch paid instant dividends at the other end as Warburton, signed from last year's Conference champions Rushden & Diamonds, rose unchallenged to head home a free-kick.

With Dagenham beating Chester, Boston had to make sure of victory, but were rarely troubled in the final half-hour.

Rodwell and Clare both might have increased the winning margin as the celebrations began among the travelling support.


Teams:

Hayes: Bull, Daly, Charles, Sterling, Dyer, Molesley, Peter Holsgrove, Clark, Kevin Warner, Hodges, Jolly.
Subs: Case, Bossu, Gray, Hale, Shipperley.

Boston Utd: Bastock, Clifford, Rodwell, Ellender, Gould, Rusk, Simon Weatherstone, Costello, Angel, Clare, Tarrant.
Subs: Cook, Conroy, Lodge, Warburton, Elding.

Referee: S Brand (Wirral)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Steve Houghton
"Boston join the ranks of the the Football League"
Boston boss Steve Evans
"It's been a mountain of a season"

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