BROWNE ON THE BALL: Chorley away in the FA Cup may not be a dream tie for Boston United, but the Pilgrims still have everything to gain

Gregg Smith in action at Mansfield. NNN-170930-174356002
Gregg Smith in action at Mansfield. NNN-170930-174356002

In their recent history, Boston’s two senior football sides have enjoyed the FA Cup about as much as I take pleasure from being kicked repeatedly in the head while watching old re-runs of the Open University’s chemistry specials.

Yes, we like to hear tales of those glorious days out at Derby County, Tottenham Hotspur and Barnsley, but there’s been little, if any, of that cup magic sprinkled on this part of Lincolnshire for some time.

Quite frankly, I’ve seen Rik Waller put together more impressive runs on Celebrity Fit Club.

While Town have exited the competition with 4-1, 6-1 and 7-0 drubbings in the past three seasons, United’s failures on the Road to Wembley have become an albatross.

It got to the point where new manager Adam Murray was asked what the heck he was going to do to rectify this at his very first fans’ forum. Twice. Five months before he could even take charge of his first game with the club in this competition.

But will this be the season that all this changes, where the Poachers and Pilgrims finally rediscover their mojo in the competition and overcome a few hang-ups which have blighted them both recently?

Boston Town put together a superb FA Cup run.

Boston Town put together a superb FA Cup run.

Gary Frost’s Town certainly ripped up the form book with four wins, three against higher-level opposition, in this season’s magnificent run, exemplified by guts, determination and cracking team spirit.

Few of the 400-plus crowd who saw them finally exit the competition this weekend against a Hyde United side now unbeaten in 22 games would be able to argue that a replay in Manchester would have been more fitting than their cruel, last-minute defeat.

But while Town, who kicked off Saturday’s 3-2 defeat as the lowest-ranked club left in the competition, had everything to gain, United made the short journey to AFC Mansfield to take part in what was effectively a no-win situation.

After dispatching Haughmond convincingly, albeit at the second attempt, they found themselves facing another side three levels below, even if the names in the Bulls’ squad would suggest that won’t be the case for a whole lot longer.

Chorley? Again?

Chorley? Again?

Midfielder Jamie McGuire described the match as a potential banana skin, although it was probably more like one of those triple packs you find on the course in Mario Kart.

Win and expect little more than a shrug and a comment along the lines of ‘we should be thrashing teams like that anyway’.

Lose and the knives come out quicker than in a heated row at a Swiss Army barracks.

However, Murray’s side put in the kind of professional, untroubled performance needed for a contest like that as the Pilgrims booked their place into the fourth qualifying round for the first time in five years.

Yep. Chorley again!

Yep. Chorley again!

Their prize? A trip to Chorley, where the first positive I could think of was: at least it’s not as far as Barrow.

Away trips in the FA Cup are definitely not the stuff of dreams if it’s a three-hour trek to a side in your division, at a ground you’re due to visit in March, and where you haven’t recorded a victory or scored a goal in the past three attempts.

Familiarity will also creep in as this will be the 10th meeting between the two sides in the past four years.

There are family members we all see less often.

However, victory over a side United have already beaten 2-0 this season would mean a place in the first round draw and the chance to face a club from League One or Two.

Now is not the time to be downbeat about the draw, but - as Town have already proven - upbeat about what could be up next if the job gets done.