Duncan Browne asks whether the Pilgrims have missed a proven goalscorer this season...
“We’re missing a cutting edge,” said Adam Murray following last week’s defeat at Alfreton.
And I don’t think even Britain’s most argumentative man, in a particularly belligerent mood, could find reason to argue with that statement.
To be frank, this season the Pilgrims have left their shooting boots at home - even if Saturday’s victory offered some welcome respite.
Jay Rollins is currently the club’s top scorer with 10 goals to his name, even though his last one came more than two months ago on January 21.
So far this season the Pilgrims have netted 47 times in the league and, going by their current average of 1.3 goals per game, look set to end the campaign somewhere around the 54 goal mark.
It’s not a tragic total, it will be far better than many teams in this division muster, while it’s fair to note Stockport (53) and Chorley (51)are battling for promotion with less-than-outstanding goal tallies.
But it stands out because Boston fans have been spoilt for finishes and finishers over the past decade.
The last 10 campaigns have seen the side net 73, 75, 85, 68, 60, 72, 90, 38, 65 and 51 league goals respectively.
It’s no surprise that those two lowest totals (51 and 38) came in the seasons when the side found themselves struggling, relegated from the Football League and avoiding a drop out of the UniBond Premier on the final day of the campaign.
But with the exception of the 2007 relegation season, when Drewe Broughton top scored with eight, the Pilgrims have always relied on a striker to lead from the front,
Even in that campaign which plundered a tragically dull 38 goals, Ollie Ryan managed 22 in all competitions, despite not even playing the last 13 games.
The past decade’s leading marksmen have all found their way into the hearts of fans by grabbing those vital goals, be it Dayle Southwell (24, 30), Ricky Miller (28), Marc Newsham (30, 21, 29), Spencer Weir-Daley (14), Ryan (22), Jon Froggatt (11) and then Broughton (eight).
But even in those two campaigns where the leading scorer wasn’t quite so prolific, there was always back up.
SWD’s 14 were aided by six apiece from Miles Hunter, Danny Davidson and Adam Boyes, while Froggatt’s 11 were pushed by goals from Jon Rowan (10), Kieran Leabon (10) and Jon Stevenson (nine).
It’s been a different story for the forwards this year.
Of United’s 47 goals to date, 10 have come from the defence, 15 from midfield and 21 from strikers, plus an own goal to boot.
The only other two goals outside of the league came in the FA Cup at Kirby Muxloe, where Joe Maguire and Rollins both netted.
Indeed, the loss of nine-goal Gregg Smith has stunted things for the Pilgrims this campaign, while Rollins has battled bravely but has also picked up frustrating knocks of his own.
But the other nine strikers utilised have not had similar joy, with Waide Fairhurst (one), Lamin Colley (one), Alex Simmons (one), Karl Hawley (one), Louis Briscoe (one), Joe Pugh, Cameron Johnson, Mani Dieseruvwe and Richard Brodie netting five times between them (although it must be pointed out that not all strikers play the same role and some have barely had regular football to get into a groove ).
Of course, it’s not all black and white. United’s issues in front of the onion bag are not a simple case of strikers being awful. You have to question the supply line and, over the course of the whole season, tactics and recruitment. A change in management also brings in a change of direction too.
This season’s ridiculous injury list has by no means helped, constant chopping and changing affects understanding and rhythm and then, inevitably, confidence and ability.
But one thing’s for sure, the word ‘goalscorer’ will be written in thick black marker and heavily underlined, bang at the top of Murray’s summer shopping list.