BROWNE ON THE BALL: Who has the deadliest goal ratio - Mario Balotelli, Radamel Falcao or Boston United’s Zak Mills?

Zak Mills.
Zak Mills.

When Zak Mills first announced that he had set himself a target of eight goals for this season, I must admit I thought he was talking with enough positivity to make Sean Dyche look like a grumpy old swine.

But when he reeled out that number at Ashby Avenue, following the Pilgrims’ pre-season victory over Lincoln United, he was deadly serious.

Zak Mills.

Zak Mills.

Then, after finding the net at Bradford Park Avenue, he reiterated his goal target, causing his captain Scott Garner - who was listening in - to shake his head and chip in with the encouraging words ‘not a chance’.

However, with the aid of hindsight, Mills had every right to make that prediction.

Here we are with little more than a third of the Vanarama North league season played, and Mills is already halfway to reaching his total.

Indeed, with four goals from 16 matches he and Carl Piergianni sit joint-second in the Pilgrims’ leading scoring charts, albeit a fair stretch away from 10-goal Dayle Southwell.

Zak Mills.

Zak Mills.

With a one-in-four strike record, the former Histon man has a goalscoring tally that neither Mario Balotelli or Radamel Falcao can yet match this season. And the same goes for Piergianni and Southwell, even if the calibre of opposition defences aren’t quite the same.

A close-range finish at the Horsfall Stadium and a firm strike against Dereham Town in the FA Cup have been followed by two goals in two games, as Mills netted against Solihull Moors and - at the weekend - AFC Fylde.

But the player’s good scoring form is not even close to being his best asset this season.

That, without a doubt, is his versatility.

So far this campaign Mills has played as a full back, a winger and a central defender - and he has excelled in every role.

Admittedly, he took a few minutes to find his feet in the heart of defence against Fylde but, once a few creases were ironed out, he became very much part of a back four which gave the table toppers - the division’s leading scorers with 35 goals - few chances in front of goal.

And then there is the long throw.

Despite injuring his shoulder against North Ferriby earlier this season, Mills continues to chuck in those long balls from the flanks which cause panic in opposition penalty areas and, on occasion, also lead to goals.

Chuck all those attributes in and mix them up with Mills’ tough tackling and athleticism and you have a player who has come on leaps and bounds from last season, where a series of injuries hampered his progression.

Of course, there’s a long way to go this season, but if United were handing out Player of the Year awards for the first three months of the campaign then you’d probably only have one winner.

As a teenager, Mills was told he didn’t have the size to make the grade in football and was released by Boston United’s youth set-up.

Now he’s back and in a position to prove a few doubters wrong.

Especially that plonker who scoffed at his prediction of eight goals from this campaign.