BROWNE ON THE BALL: It’s not the size of Boston United’s squad that matters, but what they do with it from now on

Mo Adams made just one appearance for Boston United.
Mo Adams made just one appearance for Boston United.

As Lincoln City loanees Conner Robinson and Nat Brown pulled up their socks and laced up their boots in the Boston United dressing room on Saturday, they became the latest additions to the Pilgrims’ squad this season.

While the duo are polar opposites - one a youthful striker and the other an old head in the heart of defence - both could be seen as welcome additons to Dennis Greene’s side for this National League North promotion run-in.

Robinson can score goals at this level - two in four for the Pilgrims during a month-long loan last season - and Brown is no slouch, particularly welcome for a contest in which Carl Piergianni saw himself sidelined through suspension.

But in the world of non-league football and non-contracts, you don’t always know what you’re getting, players come and go a lot more swiftly.

Quite staggeringly, Robinson and Brown became players number 48 and 49 to be named in Boston’s matchday squads this season.

Before you let that coffee sneak out of your nose, let me assure you that the revolving door at the Jakemans Stadium hasn’t had its Terminator 2 moment and gone rogue.

Ten of those players only took their place on the bench and didn’t see a minute of competitive action.

The unluckiest of those was teenagers Harry Vince, stripped and robbed of his debut by an early full time whistle, while Ioan Evans, living up to namesake Cardiff’s Kevin as a loanee who didn’t see a minute of action during his stay, unable to join the action as the scorelines didn’t permit a young centre back the chance to be gambled upon.

Others, meanwhile, were possibly never going to see action, there to briefly plug gaps.

A further 15 players have made five or less appearances during their stints, some of those due to injuries (Richard Jones), the desire to move on (Tommy Cooney), only arriving recently (Joe Burgess, Robinson, Brown), short-term loans (Jordan Blinco, Stephane Ngamvoulou, Aziz Deen-Conteh, Josh Venney, Alex Simmons), only being a quick fix (Lionel Stone) or playing once and not turning up again (Mo Adams).

So that’s already more than half of the 49 accounted for.

Others, meanwhile, have been told it wasn’t working out (Kyle Dixon, Nicky Walker), some thought moving on would be best for playing time (Jason Alexander, Jamie McGhee) and you could hardly account for Notts County recalling Jordan Richards or Derby County coming in for Henrich Ravas.

But what does stand out is that of the 11 who started United’s first competitive match of the season - the goalless Lincs Senior Cup contest against Lincoln City, which the Imps won on penalties - only Jordan Deacey has appeared in less than 20 matches for the Pilgrims this term.

The core for a good side has evidently always been here this season (Jay Rollins and Richards are the only other two players with 20-plus appearances, even if Dylan McEvoy couldbe there soon).

The problem has been keeping them fit and available.

Were it not for high-profile injuries to Dayle Southwell, Zak Mills, Kaine Felix, Mark Jones and Rollins, perhaps so many other players wouldn’t have ever pulled on a Pilgrims shirt.

Others, meanwhile, were brought in by neccessity and others were worth a gamble, even if they didn’t work out long term.

But with the National League North’s transfer deadline arriving on Thursday, this squad is now the one which has to deliver.