BROWNE ON THE BALL: Size isn’t everything... when it comes to Boston United squads

James Goode.
James Goode.

Duncan Browne suggests that the Pilgrims were victims of too much upheaval this season...

Saturday’s defeat at Curzon Ashton signalled the end of Boston United’s 2016-17 campaign, a long, frustrating nine months which few will look back upon with any kind of fondness.

If this season was an ageing dog you would have packed the shotgun and marched it round the back of the barn long before that FA Trophy defeat at Witton.

It was a campaign of appalling penalty misses, where a 9-2 stiffing at Fylde was by no means the worst team performance, and when finishing a match without somebody suffering a long-term injury was seen as a triumph.

Approaching February, late winners against perpetual strugglers Bradford Park Avenue, Gainsborough Trinity and Alfreton Town was about as good as it got.

But while the highlight of the season remains the knowledge that it is finally over, there does remain some hope for the future.

In recent weeks Adam Murray’s side have turned a corner.

Saturday’s capitulation aside, things have been better.

There is now room for optimism, especially as a rebuilding process begins in earnest.

Murray has made it clear that his summer recruitment will be completed as quickly as is possible, and that he is also looking to work with a compact squad.

That second statement is music to the ears when you consider that this season the Pilgrims used a staggering 51 players.

Yes, the world of non-contract football means players will come and go. The club’s ridiculous inury list, and a change in management and philosophy have also added to this team’s huge turnover in playing staff.

But it has been instability and the arrival of players who really didn’t always strengthen the squad, which have played a part in this poor campaign.

Here are three worrying stats.

1) Antonio Alcaraz Zamora, George Couzens, James Goode, Bradley Peace-McDonald, Joe Pugh and Ben Clappison were all brought in mid-season and mustered just three starts between them.

2) The Pilgrims have only named unchanged sides on four occasions (Kidderminster-Gloucester, Nuneaton-Telford, Chorley-Darlington, Halifax-Altrincham).

3) This campaign has seen the club hand out a whopping 38 debuts, and that’s not including Alex Simmons, Shane Clarke, Liam Agnew, Ollie Price and Nat Brown, who returned to the club but weren’t Boston United players last season.

It will perhaps come as no surprise to you that the last time United won a promotion (2009-10), Rob Scott and Paul Hurst used just 33 players - and won a treble.

Bizarrely, the following season they - with a late dug-out cameo from Jason Lee and Lee Canoville - managed to reach the play-offs in a season which used 50 players, the second highest overturn in the past deade.

But - strengthening the argument that a smaller dependable squad bears more fruit than a continually changing side - that was with a core of 13 players who made 20 or more appearances, a further two who played 19 times each and six reserve teamers flung into a county cup final.

Stability is key. Stability has been promised.

I’m pretty certain that revolution, instead of evolution, can helpm us forget this season all the more quicker.