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Mooney Mooney Mooney

Boston United 3-0 Farsley Celtic (National League North)

Last weekend, Kelsey Mooney & Jimmy Knowles became the first players since 1967 to score hat-tricks in the same league game for Boston United as the Pilgrims beat Gloucester City 7-3. Back then, Boston were in the West Midland League, anyone who knows the geography of Boston in Lincolnshire will notice it’s about as East as you can go in England, but apparently, after reformation in the early sixties, the club burnt a few bridges in their region and instead headed to the likes of Tamworth, Kidderminster and Port Vale Reserves where they won back to back titles and thereafter became founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968.

Last weekend, as a birthday treat for the wife, we stayed in the cider mill adjacent to the oldest house in Wales which was apparently used for Prince William and King Henry IV as a hunting lodge in the Wye Valley. Middle of nowhere the nearest town was Builth Wells as we took the dog for a walk in the peaceful, idyllic and very grey Elan Valley. The weekend before we were in Belfast doing the Titanic Museum and tour of their sectarian peace lines, although the best thing about the trip was trying a local delicatessen at St Georges Market, the Belfast Bap packed with six or seven rations of bacon with sausage and egg, you could hardly put it in your mouth but it tasted unreal, it’s been a blast but it’s good to get back to the routine of Saturday afternoon football.

12:30pm I’m out the door after a spot of hoovering and a cheese toastie for breakfast, I’ve filled up a flask of coffee and hit the A52 towards Grantham and arrived at Wyberton, a short walk from the Jakemans Stadium which I’m at by 2pm, in the queue behind an old friend where we collect our accreditation for the game.

He tells me of a player, Bradley Wood, who’s playing his first game today for Grimsby Borough after a 6 year ban. Apparently, I vaguely remember he ‘deliberately’ got booked in the 90th minute of an FA Cup game whilst playing for Lincoln City against Ipswich Town in 2017 and a curiously large amount of money was put on his name. His foul indirectly led to Lincoln snatching a late win after a poor Ipswich free kick was cleared away and the Imps broke out in numbers to snatch a memorable winner, a £2m plus cup run that ended with the then non-leaguers playing in the Quarter Finals against Arsenal at the Emirates, created off the back of a lad trying to make a few quid for his mates. I wonder what the odds are on him booked upon his return?

The Venue

Modern, sleek, it’s the best venue in the National League North for me, I love coming to Boston, a long and boring drive over many flat fields all be it, but one I can switch off with my thoughts along, assisted by the ramblings of Talksport where todays game is Wolves v Coventry in the FA Cup, parking up, over the road on a new housing estate, is easy enough, a short walk past the franchise coffee shops and you arrive at this magnificent structure, still not yet complete, but when one day it is, it’ll be stand out no matter what the division, due to its quirky floodlights and bowl shaped surroundings. The view is great from the press seats, high enough but up close, leg room is fine with a nice flip table, directly behind the supporters who love an eff and jeff. There’s around 30 Farsley fans opposite in today as the Boston PA behind me says ‘we’ve had worse away following this season’.

The Game

Farsley’s form under player manager Clayton Donaldson hasn’t been great, their young media guy tells me in a broad West Yorkshire accent “we started alreet, pushing fut playoffs but av’ slipped tuther downt league” the Celts are seventeenth and are looking over their shoulder after just one win in eight. Boston are gaining traction on the playoffs after hitting seven at Gloucester last weekend, the away team from early doors look to be heading down the damage limitation route, 5-3-2 the order of the day as they get men behind the ball and make themselves hard to break down.

Boston control possession but begin to get frustrated, until a pass into Kelsey Mooney’s feet has him swivel away from his marker Rudy Misambo who gets too tight too soon, the son of former Watford striker ‘Tommy’ is away and calmly slots home for an opener as the home crowd cheer.

The Score

Plan A out of the window, Farsley do push up on the front foot and Darren Stephenson, played in un-marked has a shot smothered by the alert and imposing Cameron Gregory, that save keeping the Pilgrims ahead at the break.

The second half however has Boston back on top, nothing from a toothless away side who barely lay glove. A Martin Wood free kick is headed home by Mooney on the hour and the striker completes his hat-trick when substitute Michael Gyasi strides away on the break, he pulls back for Mooney to complete his second hat-trick in a week. A first back-to-back hatty for Boston since 1966 I’m told.

The Stars

Only one man stood out for the pre match collection of the sponsors awarded Brut, Kelsey Mooney was having a frustrating first season in Boston’s attack, stuck on seven goals until Gloucester he got four against the Tigers and three against Farsley and is now suddenly having a prolific campaign on 14 goals, what a difference a week can make.

Mooney is a busy young striker who’s hold up play is improving and with a bit of pace and power he’s a nuisance in attack with the equally useful Jimmy Knowles. I like them both together as they keep distance between each other which allows space for either, and a double whammy threat on the break for opponents.

Boston have a relatively strong spine with Cameron Gregory arguably one of the best goalkeepers at the level, Michael Bostwick is often brilliant in defence alongside the no-nonsense Brad Nicholson, the likes of Keaton Ward and Martin Woods, combative in midfield, and they have some pace and skill out wide. Sam Smart is a talent, Gyasi, Keziah Martin, Deji Sotona all more than useful from the bench.

Farsley failed to offer much at all in an attacking third, I liked big Tom Allen on the left side of centre half, Darren Stephenson shown glimpses with a couple of stylish nutmegs on the half way line, he’s a player who’s came back from injury and should he link up with player-manager Clayton Donaldson, more often, in attack, if they played together then Farsley could be a tough side to contain, but Donaldson is 40, Stephenson now in his thirties, relying on players past their best is a tricky conundrum to entail.

The Verdict

I really fancy Boston for the playoffs where anything can happen. Scunthorpe and Chester maybe favourites for next best behind champions pending Tamworth, but the Pilgrims can compete with all those above, so if they do make it, I’ll be willing to back them as the surprise package in the promotion push.

Farsley should, have enough to stay up, not that their media guy was too confident, the side is in freefall right now and although they have not been in the relegation zone yet this season, every week they are looking over their shoulders, that bit worryingly more.

The Teams

Boston United: Cameron Gregory, Jai Rowe, Ethan Sephton (Lucien Mahovo 81), Brad Nicholson, Michael Bostwick, Keaton Ward (Deji Sotona 83), Martin Woods, Kelsey Mooney, Jimmy Knowles, Sam Smart (Michael Gyasi 80), Dylan Hill.

Farsley Celtic: Zan-Luk Leban, Harry Sheridan, Lewis Turner, Jack Evans, Rudy Misambo, Tom Allen, Ben Atkinson (Jordan Carroll 87), Conor Branson, Michael Coulson, Darren Stephenson (Clayton Donaldson 73), Sam Leverett (Ryan Watson 79).

3:00pm Kick Off. Saturday 16th March 2024, Jakemans Stadium, Boston (att 1,522).

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