THE LOWDOWN: Brackley Town v Boston United

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The opening day of the Vanarama North campaign brought contrasting emotions for Boston United and Brackley Town.

While a beaming Dennis Greene was congratulating his young Pilgrims on a tense 2-1 home victory at the expense of bookies’ favourites Barrow, Jon Brady’s mood couldn’t have been more different.

Traffic congestion on the M6, a seven-hour journey from Northamptonshire to Lancanshire and a delayed kick off didn’t start the day well for the Saints.

And when the full-time whistle blew, their misery was compounded after being subjected to a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of league newcomers AFC Fylde.

Indeed, Brackley only lost four times on the road last season, and the heaviest of those was a 3-1 loss at Leamington.

But a huge overhaul in personnel this summer has left the Saints, according to many observers, a weakened side.

Whispers in the Conference North suggest that a budget cut is what led to an exodus of last season’s top players, who helped guide the club to seventh place - one spot and five points below Boston.

Tonight the two recent rivals will lock horns again.

Brackley are hoping home advantage can help them to their first points of the campaign, while the Pilgrims will be looking to end their run of defeats at the hands of Brady’s team.

The rivalry between United and Brackley is a new one, with the two sides only meeting for the first time in the 2012-13 season, although the Saints have the upper hand at present.

The first meeting between the two opponents saw Dennis Greene, in just his second match as Pilgrims boss, inspire his charges to a 2-0 victory at St James’ Park.

Spencer Weir-Daley and Ben Fairclough were on target that day, in what remains Boston’s only victory against Brackley.

Last season saw United beaten twice at St James’ Park.

They went down 2-0 in an FA Cup match before being beaten 3-2 in the league a fortnight later - a contest which has since had aspersions cast upon it due to alleged betting trends.

Of the five meetings between the two sides, Brackley have won the past four.

Last season’s narrow 2-1 victory at the Jakemans Stadium was preceded by a bizarre 4-3 success at the tail-end of the previous campaign, in which both sides missed a penalty.

Marc Newsham, Spencer Weir-Daley and Conor Marshall are the only Pilgrims who have featured in all of United’s matches against Brackley to date.

But with Newsham injured and Weir-Daley departing in the summer, midfielder Marshall remains the only one in contention to keep the run going.

United go into this evening’s fixture with both Zak Mills and Kaine Felix suspended, while Jay Dowie joins Newsham on the treatment table.

Question marks remain over Matt Gledhill’s availability as he awaits international clearance.

Kick off is at 7.45pm.