BROWNE ON THE BALL: McGuire leads by example as Boston United’s entire squad need to be prepared for a relegation battle

Jamie McGuire.
Jamie McGuire.

As Jamie McGuire wheeled away, his raised arm pointing a finger to the sky in celebration, he must have felt it was going to be the perfect day.

The midfielder marked his first start for Boston United in three months with an assist and a goal - his first for the club since his summer move - all within the opening eight minutes of Saturday’s contest.

Andi Thanoj.

Andi Thanoj.

And indeed, were it not for two late, late goals from FC United, that man-of-the-match champagne McGuire clutched as his did his post-match interviews would have tasted even sweeter.

On December 2, when McGuire last started a match for the Pilgrims, new signing Brad Abbott watched from the stands and Andi Thanoj was still on the books of Redditch.

But the following match saw those two featured in the 3-2 victory over Southport and form a formidable partnership that was to become Craig Elliott’s first choice.

So good were those two together that McGuire managed just three appearances from the bench until this weekend.

Brad Abbott.

Brad Abbott.

Seven days before that - when Thanoj picked up a three-match suspension for his reaction after being the victim of a horrific challenge - McGuire didn’t even travel to York City, deemed surplus to requirements along with teammates Gregg Smith and Taron Hare.

But a week’s a long time in politics, and even longer in the National League North, where postponement after postponement creates a crazy backlog of matches in the final two months.

McGuire’s situation just proves that every member of the Pilgrims squad needs to be on their toes, match fit and ready to be called up at any time, no matter how out of the picture they feel.

Ben Middleton and Thanoj will return for Tuesday’s fixture at Brackley Town, but who knows what suspensions or injuries may be picked up by then, especially when players like Jay Rollins are asked to carry injuries into games?

It is the nature of the sport, and that is why football has very much become a squad game.

When called upon, McGuire was ready.

And if the rest of his United teammates have the same attitude and willingness when called upon then I do believe the club will be able to force themselves further away from the bottom three, no matter what lies around the corner, or what bumps there are in the road.