BROWNE ON THE BALL: A case for the defence, but will Boston United have to ring out the changes this summer?

Conor Marshall in action for United.
Conor Marshall in action for United.

Here’s a question to rack your brains. Which Boston United defender has kept the most clean sheets this season?

The criteria for this is matches started (not late appearances from the bench) by those at the back, where the team have gone 90 minutes without shipping a goal.

It could be in any competitive match, as well.

Any idea?

I ask, because it seems Dennis Greene is suddenly weighing up his options, and may need help with his case for the defence.

In his past two matches, the United boss has made wholesale changes to the back four.

On Saturday at Hinckley, Conor Marshall, Nathan Stainfield and Tom Ward were all drafted in at the expense of Gary Silk, Phil Watt and Paul Lister.

Then, as we were handed the team sheets for Monday’s clash with Bishop’s Stortford, those three dropped players were all back in the team.

This time, Ward, Stainfield and Jason Field watched from the bench.

Two matches in three days may be a little exhausting, but to make three changes in defence, but nowhere else on the pitch - following a victory, as well - would suggest this was more tactical than squad rotation.

But why? Well, my guess is that Greene is giving all his defenders a good run out, so he can weigh up his options of who to keep and let go this summer.

Ward, Stainfield, Lister and Watt are all very talented young central defenders with plenty of promise and bright futures.

But they all come from a very similar mould.

What United desperately need is an experienced defender to help these young charges develop.

What’s missing is an Alan White type figure.

A big, loud, nasty, snarling git of a man who will win you the ball, take half an opponents leg with him in the process and spend his spare time barking positional orders to whoever’s stood alongside him.

Sadly, United don’t have the budget of Manchester City or the desire to have 32 first teamers on the books but out on loan like AC Milan.

So, it’s likely that - to make way for an experienced central defender - one, maybe two, of these four centre backs may not be reporting for pre-season training in July.

Therefore, Greene needs to run the rule over them all right now.

Every United fan will have their own opinion on the best central defensive pairing at York Street.

But which defenders have the Midas touch?

Well, in last place, with no clean sheets between them, both having made five starts, are Paul Mayo and Keiran Walker.

On loan Jack Andrews had no clean sheets to his name in the two matches he played either.

Jason Field (nine appearances), Gary Silk (23), Kern Miller (eight) and Paul Lister (eight) have each started three games where Boston didn’t concede.

Phil Watt has four shut-outs from 11 starts, while Conor Marshall (30) and Tom Ward (26) are in joint third with seven clean sheets each.

Although he last played for Boston in January, ex-captain Gareth Jelleyman claimed eight shut-outs in 32 matches.

But top of the pile is Nathan Stainfield.

From his 36 starts this season, he has been involved in nine of the 11 matches where Boston haven’t picked the ball out the net, as well as starting alongside Ward in those spectacular victories against Chester and FC Halifax.