They say size isn’t everything. Question marks have been raised over the number of bodies in Boston United’s squad in recent weeks.
But as the injury list continues to grow at York Street, the Pilgrims continue to grind out the results.
Ricky Miller’s second-half strike proved the difference today as United earned a workmanlike 1-0 victory at home to Barrow.
While there are no question marks over the commitment of United’s small but enthusiastic squad, there may be some eyebrows raised as the number of walking wounded continues to grow.
Once again, leading scorer Marc Newsham and defender Scott Garner were ruled out prior to kick off.
And throughout the afternoon, Boston made three enforced substitutions - Ian Ross, Ben Fairclough aand Carl Piergianni al crocked.
Barrow created the first chance of the afternon, but Gareth Arnison - no stranger to scoring against United during his years with Workington - saw his strike deflected off target by teammate Dale Johnson.
It was United who came closest to opening the scoring - and had it not been for a superb stop from Bluebirds keeper Tony McMillan, they would have had an early advantage.
Centre back Stefan Galinski saw his powerful drive expertly tipped over from point-blank range, following clever build-up play from Spencer Weir-Daley.
Barrow again rode their luck when Netan Sansara’s cross rebounded off their crossbar, but it was Boston who were left counting their luck when Paddy Lacey’s 25-yarder swerved just away from danger.
Ben Faircough had no right to win a stray ball in midfield, but his determination saw him beat Craig Radcliffe and poke into the path of Ricky Miller. His strike partner darted forward and cut inside, only to see his deflected strike land inches wide with McMillan rooted.
The visiting keeper was anything but stuck in the mud moments later as he acrobatically pushed Weir-Daley’s rasping effort, curling in from the edge of the penalty area, away from danger.
Dennis Greene attempted to entice Halifax midfielder Keith Briggs to join the Pilgrims on loan a fortnight ago.
So imagine his surprise when the player arrived on the Barrow team coach, having signed for them this morning.
But Briggs’ first real impact of the game was to earn a yellow card for a late swipe at Ben Milnes.
As if the Pilgrims have not suffered enough injury woes this season, they were hit with another at the interval.
Carl Piergianni, so often the Pilgrims’ defensive rock, had picked up a cut in the first half. But despite playing on with a bandage, his match finished at the half way stage.
Replacement Indy Aujla took up his favoured place in central midfield, with Conor Marshall dropping back into the heart of defence alongside Galinski.
Barrow’s height was causing the Pilgrims some nervy moments, and from one goalmouth scramble Peter Bore was forced into two goalline clearances in succession.
But in the 54th minute, Boston were in front.
As Weir-Daley and Duran Reynolds contested a ball in the Barrow final third, it squirmed into the path of Miller.
The forward attempted to lob McMillan, and the Bluesbirds keeper - who had been so reliable - fluffed his lines, allowing the ball to slip through his hands and into the net.
Ashley Timms was called into action on the hour mark, making his first save of the game to deny Arnison, whose strike was low but lacking power.
In fact, the number one again found himself well position to pluck Jamie Allen’s header out of the air as Barrow enjoyed a mini renaissance in the second half.
The United stopper then pulled off his best stop of the afternoon with six minutes remaining. Paul Edwards’ cross blooked to be creeping in, but the keeper corrected himself and firm fingertips averted danger.
And that was that, Boston held on for victory. Far from perfect, but thoroughly deserved.
UNITED: Timms, Bore, Sansara, Marshall, Galinski, Piergianni (Aujla HT), Ross (Hall 56), Milnes, Miller, Fairclough (Reed 85), Weir-Daley; Subs: Dongo, Vince.
BAROW: McMillan, Burns, Edwards, Williams, Reynolds, Davies (Allen 67), Lacey, Briggs, Johnson, Arnison (Rushton 66), Radcliffe (Mills 59); Subs: Bowen, O’Donnell.
Ref: Ian Dudley.