BROWNE ON THE BALL: The boy’s done good, but now Liam Agnew is back at Boston United and better than ever

Liam Agnew.
Liam Agnew.

When Liam Agnew made his Boston United debut he drove down from the North East to help bolster a team ravaged by injuries, held together by a string of young loanees, and on a hiding to nothing.

A cynic could argue that it was the same again on Saturday as the 21-year-old midfielder pulled on a Pilgrims shirt once more.

Like that day at Hednesford on a cold January in 2014 - where he was the stand-out debutant in a side which also drafted in Pa Sulay Njie, Brad Gascoigne and Dan Pritchard, none of whom would kick a ball for the first team again - Agnew shone.

But this weekend the Agnew who pulled the strings wasn’t a kid with promise but an established footballer.

He came a boy. Returned a man with plenty of swagger.

A lot has changed since the young Agnew ended his loan spell with Dennis Greene’s side on the final day of the 2013-14 campaign, the 3-0 defeat at Worcester City which ended the team’s hopes of sneaking into the play-off spots.

Those 18 appearances and two goals, against Gloucester City and Hednesford, in the return fixture, had helped Sunderland decide to offer the youngster his first professional contract.

First-team chances, however, didn’t really materialise at the Stadium of Light and Agnew found himself playing for the team he supports just once, instead getting his run outs in the under 23s.

After being told he wouldn’t be offered a new deal by the Black Cats he spent the summer trialing with Bradford City, but again no contract materialised.

But after ongoing discussions with Greene here he is, back at Boston.

When the midfielder first arrived at United, it was a sitution that could offer mutual benefits.

Boston initially got themselves a young lad to help boost their depleted squad, but who went on to start all but one of the remaining games of the season. The player got the experience to further his career.

This time around United have an established talent who they hope can help drag them back up the table. The player, on the other hand, has a place to prove a few doubters wrong and showcase why he should still be playing in the professional ranks.

A debut goal and man of the match performance won’t hurt the pride, but what Agnew really wants is points on the board.

The young midfielder is a player with a genuine affinity to the club, who believes he owes the team a debt of gratitude for his development both on and off the field.

If he can lead by example, as he did against FC Uneted, then the Pilgrims have a very important player on their hands.