BROWNE ON THE BALL: As Nat Brown proved on his Boston United return this week, you don’t always know what you’ve got until it’s gone

Nat Brown.
Nat Brown.

Duncan Browne takes a look at the return of the Pilgrims defender...

“The encouraging thing is, if we can get all our players back fit, then we would be a really decent side,” said Dennis Greene as the light began to fade over Liberty Way.

The Pilgrims boss had just overseen what he described as one of his team’s finest performances of the season, and remained positive despite surrendering a two-goal lead, compounded by Jordan Nicholson’s stoppage-time screamer.

I don’t want to bang on about United’s injury situation yet again in this column.

It’s been covered as thoroughly as Joe Burgess’ ankle the day it was wrapped in plaster cast.

But Greene’s words were perfectly illustrated by the scene which unfolded in front of the press box as the contest came hurrying to an end.

Those suspended and injured players at Liberty Way were heading back from their seats in the stand to the dressing room, just seconds remaining and their team 2-1 up.

But as Nicholson’s 20-yarder rose beyond Dion-Curtis Henry and into the net, those in their yellow tracksuits halted.

Shane Clarke held his head in his hands. Gregg Smith shook his head.

Beside them Joe Maguire, Kalern Thomas and Herve Pepe-Ngoma just stood.

You could only look at those players not involved - flash your mind to players like Liam Agnew, who wasn’t with the other walking wounded - and think what the outcome would have been had just three or four of them been available.

But one player was available. For the first time this season.

Nat Brown, who hadn’t played a competitive match since the play-off semi-final at North Ferriby in early May due to his thigh injury, was back in the first team. At last.

Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and that was certainly the case this weekend.

Brown, the towering, calming, presence, was winning those first headers, was driving his defence out and was leading by example.

His presence gave fellow centre back Joe Robinson the confidence to take ballwinning chances.

And a defence which repels attacks so well allows your more creative players the confidence to get on with their own jobs rather than hanging back.

It was little surprise that Jason St Juste annoyed his opponents by beavering away down the wing, nobody was shocked that Lewis Hilliard was once again pulling the strings in the middle of the park.

Of course, Brown - no matter how impressive he was on Saturday - is just one player.

He is far from match fit. He, as can be expected, looked leggy at the death and maybe such a role can’t be expected of him every week as he still gets back to his best.

At 35, he won’t repair as quickly.

But at last one of Greene’s long-term injuries appears to be chalked off, and what a difference it made.

A few more and perhaps we can see the true potential which excited Greene so much in pre-season.

Just don’t let anyone else get a knock.