BROWNE ON THE BALL: When square pegs fit into round holes

Marcus Marshall.
Marcus Marshall.

With mere minutes left to play, and with the scoreline goalless, Jordan Murphy looked to have a free run at the Boston United goal.

He knocked the ball into space, sprinted forward and was preparing to take his final touch before shooting.

But in came Marcus Marshall, arriving from Murphy’s blind spot and sliding in with a crunching challenge which ended Worcester City’s final hope of snatching victory and left the substitute on the floor writhing in agony.

The crowd gave the biggest cheer of an afternoon in which pulses rarely threatened to start racing.

After the final whistle blew, long after Murphy had pulled himself up off the turf, it was suggested that Joe Maguire, now available again following his one-match suspension, would struggle to force his way back into the Pilgrims’ starting XI with Marshall the favourite to hold onto that central defensive position.

But that was just a joke to lighten the mood after yet another injury to the Boston squad gave Dennis Greene and his side little to laugh about.

Joe Burgess has already overcome a gash to the back of his leg this season.

But he will be sidelined until after Christmas at least after breaking his ankle in the second minute, after appearing to land badly defending a ball into the box.

On the same day that United announced that Herve Pepe-Ngoma will miss the rest of the season due to ligament damage in his knee, another defensive option was struck off the list.

It is easy to make excuses when results aren’t going your way and you have players unavailable.

But the Pilgrims’ predicament is freakish at best.

Nat Brown is yet to feature after picking up a thigh in jury in pre-season. Grant Roberts spent almost a fortnight in hospital after having fluid drained from his knee and Shane Clarke won’t return until February after a pre-season jog ended in an Achilles injury.

But the list doesn’t end there.

Waide Fairhurst missed a handful of matches after injuring himself scoring a goal. Callum Chippendale has twice pulled a hamstring in training. Pepe-Ngoma was the victim of jarring his leg as he looked to regain balance and, while the manner of Burgess’ injury was similar, it took place on a different pitch, more than 100 miles away.

And let’s not forget Kalern Thomas, Ollie Price, Marshall and Jay Rollins have also missed matches through injury as well.

While sports therapist Katie Cooper is busy wondering how to negotiate overtime into her contract, she must be wondering why so many problems have come at once.

There is no common denomenator which suggests these injuries are linked.

Instead, its just a case of all Boston’s troubles coming at once. And there’s little anyone can do other than lump it and crack on.

But as that’s the case Boston should be thankful they have players like Marcus Marshall.

Signed as a winger, he has also featured in central midfield, at right back and now in the heart of defence this season - and he’s certainly not the only player who’s had to come to the rescue in similar circumstances.

But while making a last-man challenge may be nerve racking for even the most experienced of centre backs, the way he timed Saturday’s saving challenge couldn’t have been any better.

When forced to shuffle the pack it’s handy to have an ace - or several - up your sleeve.