BROWNE ON THE BALL: Pilgrims don’t always need to go the distance

Ben Milnes scored a wonder goal against Colwyn Bay, but the Pilgrims' shooting boots were missing on Tuesday night.
Ben Milnes scored a wonder goal against Colwyn Bay, but the Pilgrims' shooting boots were missing on Tuesday night.

HE TRAPPED the ball 25 yards from goal. With his laces he switched the ball from under his feet. Then he unleashed a thunderous strike from distance which flew beyond the keeper’s hopeful fingertips and into the net.

Boston United’s fans went wild.

Supporters cheered, jumped from their seats, punched the air.

In the fifth minute of stoppage time they knew there was no coming back for the opposition.

The Pilgrims had fought back and snatched a point against Colwyn Bay.

The man who scored that memorable goal – in case you needed reminding – was Ben Milnes.

It was a day of jubilation. Tuesday was very different.

Milnes was one of several Pilgrims players in the current squad who have deservedly earned the right to be known as long distance specialists.

Ian Ross is another.

Who can forget those free kicks the tormentor of Rochdale scored during his tenure at York Street in the Football League?

Chris Hall came with a reputation for similar prowess.

I his defence, Hall is yet to be given a settled position this season, but his regular pops at goal from outside the penalty area have bore no fruit.

Danny Sleath... now everyone knows what he can do.

Guiseley and Alfreton have been his victims in memorable matches.

And what about that volley against Hinckley? You find me a better goal scored in this division this season.

So that’s why, when you have midfielders lining up to take pot shots from the edge of the penalty area in the midweek game against Corby, you’d expect poor Steelmen keeper Jack Drury (only drafted into the side because regular number one Chris Mackenzie was stranded in Nottingham with a broken-down car) to be picking the ball out of his net every few minutes.

But no.

In fact, United’s leveller in that 1-1 draw came courtesy of Tyrone Kirk’s finish from six yards which, despite the Christmas spirit of the referee’s assistant, did not cross the line.

It was a late let off in the match that has been the most frustrating one for Pilgrims fans to watch this season.

Against 10 men, Boston tried their best to finish empty-handed, conceding two penalties along the way.

But the most galling part of the evening was the wastefulness.

Ross, Milnes and Kirk, between them, had shots from the edge of the penalty area which reached double figures.

A couple brought fine saves from Drury. The rest were scuffed at the keeper or fired way off target.

But the most annoying part of this is the fact that on each of the occasions mentioned, the shot was the worst option.

With men on the overlap, a simple sideways ball, and a low square cross into the box is way more effective than players queuing up to try to be the hero.

Sleath also shot off target with a couple of swipes in anger and Ryan Semple, on the night, just did not have his shooting boots, but their efforts were correctly taken as the best option.

And in fairness to Hall, he didn’t feature in that game.

Lee Canoville’s post-match assessment stated: “We got a little desperate. We should have been more patient and built play up a little bit.

“We were desperate to get that goal but kept lashing at it.

“It’s frustrating to see the ball keep going over the bar. We don’t want to discourage players from shooting, but we need more composure.”

The manager’s assessment was fair, but a better summation comes from one famous, yet unattributed, sports quote: “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to produce uncommon results.”

Sun Tzu – the Chinese military leader whose Art of War book is still used as a means of motivation by the likes of Jose Mourinho – wrote: “Teamwork is at the heart of all great achievement.”

What they are saying is that working solidly together is the way to get things done.

Boston United can boast some of the best individuals in the Blue Square Bet North. There’s arguably more natural talent on the Pilgrims bench than in Corby’s starting XI.

But the Steelmen worked as an effective unit. On Tuesday, United didn’t, just days after such a siege mentality saw them get the better of Hyde in the FA Trophy.

Perhaps plenty could be learned from those quotes above.

Because, if you want to know how a team of individuals fare against a well-drilled unit over the course of a season, just take a peek at what’s been proudly placed in Gainsborough Trinity’s trophy over the previous five seasons.