THE LOWDOWN: Boston United v North Ferriby United

Scott Garner.
Scott Garner.

It wasn’t so much hitting the self-destruct button, but more strapping yourself to a nuclear warhead and pressing ‘fire’.

As North Ferriby United arrive at the Jakemans Stadium today, the Villagers’ players, fans and officials will undoubtedly be hit with stomach-churning pangs of what-might-have-been.

Earlier this year - Monday, April 21 to be more precise - North Ferriby crossed the Humber and arrived in Lincolnshire on top of the Conference North.

With two games left of the campaign they just needed to match AFC Telford’s results and they would be promoted to non-league’s top flight.

Mouthwatering derbies against the likes of Grimsby Town and Lincoln City would be theirs.

But after a frantic and, at times, ridiculous 90 minutes of football in Boston, their dreams were in tatters.

With 10 minutes remaining the Pilgrims led 1-0 thanks to a Jamie McGhee goal, but Ferriby were still very much in the contest.

That was until United striker Ricky Miller went down in the penalty area after skipping beyond Danny Hone.

Refere Michael George rightly refused to point to the penalty spot.

But instead of getting on with chasing the game, the Villagers defender suffered a moment of madness that was to define the outcome of the title.

As he pushed Miller to the ground off the ball, referee George was still watching and found himself with no choice other than to award a penalty and brandish a red card.

As Hone made his way down the tunnel he heard the crowd roar as Miller brushed the ball home to put the contest beyond his team.

Telford only drew with Solihull Moors that day.

Had Ferriby not conceded that penalty, who knows whether their 11 men could have snatched a leveller and gone into the final day of the season holding all the aces.

But instead, Telford edged in front and are the ones travelling to face Bristol Rovers this afternoon.

While the last meeting between these two sides heralded heartbreak for North Ferriby, it saw the Pilgrims keep their hopes of a play-off spot alive, even if that was ended at Worcester City on the final game of the season in forgettable style.

The result also saw Boston maintain their strong record at home to the Villagers.

Of the Five contests played between the two sides at York Street, United have won four and lost just once.

In total, Boston have five wins, one draw and two defeats from their eight meetings.

The first meeting between United and Ferriby came in an FA Cup match in October 1981, in which the Pilgrims won 4-0.

The two opponents first became league rivals in the 208-09 UniBond Premier season.

After being beaten 2-0 at home to Ferriby, United reversed the scoreline towards the end of the season, earning three points which played a large part in them avoiding the drop.

The following year saw the two sides’ fortunes change, both challenging at the top of the division.

United won 3-1 at home before earning a point in a goalless draw at Grange Lane.

The two sides met for a third time in a one-legged play-of semi-final, which saw the Pilgrims progress thanks to a 2-1 scoreline and goals from Marc Newsham and a certain Jamie Yates.

Boston and North Ferriby were once again reacquinted last season, with the Yorkshire side comfortably thumping United 3-0 on the north side of the bridge, before that remarkanble game.

Today the Pilgrims will kick off with a 100 per cent start to the campaign - having beaten Barrow (2-1), Brackley (1-0) and Colwyn Bay (3-2) - and sitting second in the table.

But Ferriby - tipped by United manager Dennis Greene as certainties for a top-five finish - could leapfrog United with a positive result as they sit a place and two points behind.

They have beaten Stockport County (1-0), Hyde (3-0) and drawn at home with Gloucester City (2-2).

Kick off is at 3pm.