BROWNE ON THE BALL: Sunnier outlook after the weather ruins National League North fixtures

Dennis Greene.
Dennis Greene.

“In tatters.” That was how Dennis Greene responded when - pitchside at Whaddon Road following his side’s 1-0 defeat at Gloucester City - he was asked where Boston United’s title ambitions lay.

That may have been how things felt following that frustrating match, in which the Pilgrims couldn’t even slot away arguably the simplest chances they have been handed all season.

Later in that interview the United manager warmed to the idea that all was not lost, even suggesting a few scenarios which may work in his side’s favour as the campaign progresses.

But even he couldn’t have predicted what was to come six days later.

Without a fixture on Saturday, the Pilgrims perhaps half expected for the goals across the National League North to come rolling in and the top of the table to have a different feel.

Solihull and North Ferriby could have put breathing space between themselves and Boston, while Fylde and Harrogate could have earned the wins to see them leapfrog Greene’s side and push them down to fifth.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Nuneaton, in sixth, could have closed the gap to a point.

It was all going to get a little tense, wasn’t it?

But none of that happened.

Instead, Mother Nature got involved.

As the heavens opened across the north, game after game was postponed, with only Brackley’s 2-1 success at Tamworth surviving the deluge.

Of course, those games will still be played and United’s rivals will have the chance to play catch-up on another occasion.

But midweek games don’t always play out like weekend matches.

There’s the ill preparation as players leg it from half a day at work straight onto the team coach for an energy-sapping trek across the country, rush-hour traffic messing up pre-match warm-up time and the lethargy and lack of focus which can creep in when being forced to regularly play two matches per week to honour fixtures.

And if that’s not enough, a team fighting for survival is always a tougher prospect under the floodlights later in the season than they are on a Saturday in February.

You don’t have to look far through United’s history to remember a time when games in hand looked great on paper but meant little when attempting to cash them in for points.

Bath City anyone?

There was a time when great interventions of the weather were seen as acts of the gods.

These days you don’t have to be Michael Fish to know it rains a lot in Manchester and Yorkshire.

But whether it is divine intervention or a few puddles, United will be sure to accept any help that comes their way, no matter how minor.

The rest, however, is up to Greene’s side.

They still sit in third and there is still all to play for.

But all that means nothing unless they can make the most of the fixtures left and earn their place in the top five on merit over 42 games.

And that will be down to the hard work of the team, and not the weather.