Darlington 2, Boston United 0.

IN putting ten men behind the ball Boston United's intentions were clear on Saturday, although it wasn't just Steve Evans' defensive tactics Darlington had to overcome.

For 59 minutes at least the Pilgrims had frustrated and stifled Quakers, much to the annoyance of home fans.

With the Wrexham draw a fortnight earlier still fresh in the minds of those who made up Darlington's lowest league gate of the season, Saturday's opening 45 minutes were only marginally better viewing.

Not that Dave Penney's men were poor, they simply couldn't get to grips with Boston's plans.

And, rather unfairly, it was Penney's starting XI who shouldered the blame from disgruntled supporters for Boston's negative, but effective, tactics.

Football supporters pay their money to watch their teams and understandably expect good value.

That may not have been forthcoming, in the first half at least, but Penney's men, as the Quakers boss pointed out, were patient until Boston's back ten was finally breached by debutant Ian Miller's strike.

And once the on-loan defender claimed the first goal, Quakers were a different side.

"The crowd were a little bit frustrated in the first half, but once we got the goal they were behind us," said Penney.

"People are scared to shoot from distance in case they get booed. They had to be mentally strong and forget about the crowd.

"It's great when you're winning and they're cheering you on, but it's not as easy when things aren't going your way."

Evans was complimentary about Darlington in his pre-match notes, having watched Quakers' midweek win at Bristol Rovers.

And on the back of Boston's 6-0 drubbing at home to Grimsby a week earlier, Evans was keen to avoid a similar capitulation, as reflected in the 4-5-1 system the Pilgrims boss employed.

"They were on the back of a 6-0 defeat and they were always going to make it difficult," said Penney. "After the result they had last week I think they came here for a draw, which you can understand.

"They played 4-5-1 and that's going to stop you playing. It was important that we kept passing the ball and didn't get frustrated."

New central defensive pairing David Wheater and Miller ensured a quiet afternoon for lone striker Trevor Benjamin, who only joined Boston from Peterborough on Friday.

And, while Lee Jones rarely looked troubled in the Darlington goal, it was the attacking impetus of Neil Wainwright that brought the second 45 minutes into life.

Wainwright, who makes his 250th Darlington appearance at Swindon this weekend, caused Boston no end of problems with his strong running and teasing crosses.

And he was rewarded for his persistence with Darlington's second goal of the afternoon.

"Wainy gave us a little bit more width in the second half and it paid off," said Penney. "He is a lot more effective from wide positions and I don't think Boston knew how to handle him."

Penney has been criticised for signing players from former club Doncaster Rovers and Boston. Interestingly, only two players - Clark Keltie and Micky Cummins - who featured in the 4-1 reverse at Boston in August started against the Pilgrims on Saturday.

But, in extending their unbeaten run to seven games, the Quakers boss must be doing something right. During this run, at least one of Penney's signings have scored in each game.

The game was given the go-ahead on Saturday morning and judging by the paltry 2,764 turnout, some had already made their minds up about staying at home.

"I think a few thought it might not be on and I must admit I thought the pitch was going to be struggling," said Penney.

"That's up to supporters but hopefully if we keep winning and play more attractive football they will come and watch.

"We're still building and the process is going to take time and I will keep adding (to the squad) until I get what I want."

As well as Boston's spoiling tactics, Darlington's attempts to instil any fluency to their game were constantly interrupted by referee Phil Joslin, who blew for 17 fouls in the first half.

The best chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to the visitors when Brad Maylett saw his effort cleared off the line by Wheater.

Cummins had Quakers best opening before half-time and should have done better than shoot wide from Evan Horwood's pinpoint cross.

Alun Armstrong, who has now gone 17 games without scoring, came within inches of breaking the deadlock when his cross-cum-shot sailed narrowly wide of the target.

Darlington were much quicker out of the starting blocks in the second half, largely thanks to the running of Wainwright.

His searching cross found Cummins in the 53rd minute but the Irishman could only direct his header from six yards wide.

Quakers began to find holes in the Boston defence, although possession football is not something some fans comprehend, judging by the jeers that greeted any ball laid back to Jones in the home goal.

Darlington's persistence finally paid off when Miller stabbed home Keltie's half-cleared free-kick. Five minutes later Wainwright made it two, placing the ball into the bottom corner with his weaker left foot.

Boston's misery was compounded when Thomas was sent off for a second bookable offence following a foul on Wainwright.

But by the then the points were already in the bag and Quakers fans were finally won over - for the time being at least.