Notts threw away two points at York Street today after allowing a 3-1 lead slip into a 3-3 draw. With six old Boston players in Notts action, including Jason Lee who scored twice, and Alan White who also netted, the Magpies looked set to complete a dramatic old pals act, in an all-change, all-white strip.
With David Pipe and Dan Gleeson ruled out injured, Notts manager Steve Thompson was forced into two changes from last week's defeat at home to Bury. Gary Silk came in for Gleeson at right back, and Stephen Hunt replaced Pipe. Hunt's return saw him at centre half, meaning Mike Edwards moved into midfield, forcing Ian Ross into Pipe's wide right position. A third change saw the return from injury of Andy Parkinson. He replaced Dan Martin, who dropped to the bench.
The home side's team news was even more puzzling. With three players ruled out injured, and a further three suspended, they could manage only three substitutes.
Boston manager Steve Evans took his place in the dugout, only 24 hours after appearing in court with relation to tax fraud. The fraud took place during Boston's promotion winning season to League 2, but Evans was given a suspended sentence, meaning he could take his usual place in the dugout.
Premiership referee Mark Halsey blew the whistle to begin the game, with Notts in an all change, all-white strip for the first time this season.
Evans' already seriously depleted squad was worsened further when Paul Ellender was stretched off after an accidental collision with McCann. Jamie Stevens replaced the defender, leaving the hosts with just two substitutes remaining.
Notts seemed more intent on playing a direct ball up to Lee than playing football, with the midfield being bypassed on a consistent basis. Mr. Halsey saw fit to penalise Notts' target man on many an occasion, a problem Notts have had for much of the season.
After 15 minutes, striker Francis Green popped up with a header from inside the box for Boston, but he failed to trouble Kevin Pilkington in Notts' goal.
Only a minute later Green had another good chance, but again he didn't trouble Pilkington. The Notts goalkeeper, badly out of position, was drawn from his goal, but Green's attempted lob miscued, and sailed wide of the unguarded net.
Notts, with a reasonable travelling contingent for this Midlands derby encounter, produced their best piece of football after twenty minutes. A neat quick exchange on the edge of the Boston penalty area saw Parkinson work an opening, but he could only blaze off target.
On the 24th minute, Notts midfielder Matt Somner became the first player to be booked after a typically robust challenge on Dany N'Guessan. From the resulting free-kick Boston took the lead. Jamie Clarke delivered well, and substitute Jamie Stevens headed home completely unmarked.
Notts were ragged, disorganised at the back, and losing their focus. Silk became the next player to be cautioned for dissent. A reply was needed, and Notts didn't disappoint their vociferous travelling army.
It was Lee who delivered.
Coming just four minutes after Boston's opener, the lively Mendes assisted his strike partner, heading down into his path allowing Lee to volley home left footed into Marriot's bottom right corner.
Mendes then tested Marriot for the first time. The striker held up a direct ball, before turning a defender and cutting inside the 18-yard area, but the former Torquay goalkeeper did well collecting low to his right.
Notts had improved since equalising, and the direct approach had changed, particularly with Ross and McCann, perhaps Notts' best two passers of the ball, coming more into the game.
Ross then flashed a good effort across Marriot's goal, before Green posed a threat with his pace at the other end, until Silk eventually saw off the danger.
Mendes had his best chance of the game, when the Sheffield United loanee Ross produced a good ball into the box for McCann. The Scotsman nodded down to Mendes, but Marriot narrowed the angle well to prevent Mendes from giving Notts the lead. Instead he fired over.
With a little under two minutes added on at the end of the half, Mark Halsey blew the half-time whistle with the scores level at 1-1.
Dramatically, Notts whipped themselves into shape after the break, with a former Boston double goal blast. Alan White, and then Lee again returning to haunt the hosts with two goals in two minutes just two minutes after the break.
White's effort was the best of Notts' three goals, with Lee the creator flicking on a header that White placed home. Lee's second was another calm finish from inside the area.
The good Notts following were further boosted by the double goal salvo, and they should have been even further overjoyed when Parkinson was cleverly released but he could only force a corner when well placed to fire in an effort on goal.
Mendes also won only a corner when he burst through the middle of the Pilgrims' defence following Pilkington's corner. However he dallied, and his shot was blocked when he should have tested Marriot. The hosts were looking beleaguered, shell-shocked and completely dazed by Notts' rejuvenated players. Whatever Steve Thompson had said, it had worked most alarmingly.
Lee again picked up a booking, something which has been an even more regular occurrence for the experienced front man than goals, even with six strikes now to his name.
Former Forest man Lee was everywhere, even heading off his own goal line to deny Boston a certain goal after 56 minutes. Soon after Pilkington was forced into his first real save of the afternoon, and he did well to hold on to a drive by N'Guessan. It seemed to be Boston's turn to put their foot on the gas, as they began to create a few half chances.
However, it was Mendes who spurned the next chance, again when excellently placed after he faced up to Marriot in the area, but he couldn't finish again. Had he, it would have surely sealed an impressive away victory for the Magpies.
The luckless Mendes then created a chance out of nothing himself, but his effort from the edge of the 18-yard area was well tipped away Marriot.
Dudfield then finally became the sixth former Boston player on the pitch for the Magpies when he replaced the tiring Parkinson who had been effective on his return to action. The change saw Ross move infield, with Mendes on the right, and Dudfield on the left. Lee remained as a lone striker.
Soon after though, Notts were put back under the cosh, when they were caught sleeping to allow Anthony Elding in for Boston's second. It came out of nowhere, but Elding had a simple finish. It set the game up for a grandstand finish.
Boston, with their fans bursting back into life, surged forward in the hope of an equaliser that had seen unlikely just two minutes previously, such was Notts' lead and utter dominance.
Notts were clearly nervous, and White was lucky to escape a red card after he clearly handled the ball just outside the area. It was a rush of blood to the head by the Notts, and former Boston, captain.
With seven minutes left, Ross left the field to a standing ovation from four sides of the ground, and Dan Martin replaced him to occupy a deep lying left midfield position. Martin had been suffering with tonsillitis all week, but entered the fray to shore up Notts' defensive game in a bid to see out a victory.
Not to be denied though, Green then hit probably the best goal of the exciting game, with a fantastic finish after Ellender's superb pass. Notts had there a certain away victory away, and It may have got worse, with Boston buoyed by their unlikely comeback.
That was to be the last meaningful action of the game, and it petered out to finish 3-3. No doubt Notts had threw away two points, and White, a big culprit in that, left the pitch upon the final whistle without acknowledging the travelling support.
A topsy-turvy encounter it was, but Notts' old pals act didn't bear the fruits it promised in the end, proving it wasn't in the end all-White.