Match Preview: Boston United Vs Bradford Park Avenue Saturday 14th April 2018

Avenue head to the Jakemans Stadium on Saturday in search of their first away win since December 2017. Adam Boyes, Nicky Clee and Lee Knight all weighed in with goals as Mark Bower’s side swept Southport aside two days before Christmas, but only three points have been chalked up on the road since that win.

Boston held Spennymoor Town to a 0-0 draw at Harrogate Towns CNG Stadium on Tuesday night, days after securing an impressive away win at Darlington thanks to goals from Ashley Hemmings and on-loan Guiseley forward Reece Thompson.

The Pilgrims lie 12th in the table, one point adrift of Avenue with one game in-hand. Avenue did, however, come out on top in the last meeting between the sides. Boston took the lead at the Horsfall Stadium back in September, but Mark Ross drew level before Adam Boyes clinched the three points with a second-half winner.

Saturday’s opponents have overseen a managerial switch since their last meeting with Avenue, replacing Adam Murray with Craig Elliott.

The game may also see Avenue fans greeted by some familiar faces in the Boston squad. Experienced goalkeeper Jon Stewart represented Avenue during the 2015-16 season and joined the Pilgrims in January to provide competition for first-choice stopper George Willis, a one-time Avenue loanee. Centre-back Ryan Qualter is another to have turned out at the Horsfall Stadium and was also reunited with former Shaw Lane boss Elliott in January.

GUIDE TO OUR OPPONENTS:

 THE GAFFER: Craig Elliott

Elliott took charge of the Pilgrims in November 2017, gaining the attention of the Boston board after guiding Shaw Lane to three promotions in four seasons. He also managed Ossett Town and Glasshoughton Welfare before taking over at the Jakemans Stadium.

KEY PLAYERS:

Stephen Brogan

 Versatile 29-year old Brogan joined the Pilgrims in December having left National League North strugglers North Ferriby United. He brings a wealth of experience to Boston’s side, having played regularly in the Football League for Rotherham United before dropping into non-league. A left-sided player who is comfortable in both defence and midfield, he began his career with the Millers and attracted interest from Tottenham Hotspur due to his impressive displays in the 2007-08 season. However, a double leg fracture in 2008 halted his progress. Brogan spent time on loan with Stalybridge Celtic in 2011 and proved to be a hit with fans but couldn’t earn a new deal with the Millers and was eventually released. He eventually joined Celtic on a permanent deal after struggling to settle at Alfreton Town, who he joined following his Rotherham release. Brogan went on to play alongside current Avenue boss Mark Bower at Guiseley, where he also teamed with former Lions Steven Drench, Danny Boshell and Wayne Brooksby. His stint at Nethermoor was short-lived, as it wasn’t long before Forest Green Rovers of non-league football’s highest tier swooped. During his time with Rovers, he earned a call-up to the England C squad and picked up two caps. After leaving Forest Green in 2014, he went on to represent Southport, Gainsborough Trinity and North Ferriby as well as enjoying a third spell at Stalybridge.

Ashley Hemmings

 27-year-old winger Ashley Hemmings linked up with the Boston squad in June 2017 after leaving Mansfield Town. A tricky player with an eye for goal, he represented England under-17s whilst in the youth ranks of Wolverhampton Wanderers and enjoyed loan spells with Cheltenham Town, Torquay United and Plymouth Argyle. He made fifty-six appearances in two years at Walsall after departing Molineux, making five appearances on loan at Burton Albion during that time. Hemmings then made eighty appearances for Dagenham & Redbridge during a two-year spell between 2014 and 2016, earning a move to League Two side Mansfield Town where he spent one season. Since arriving at the Jakemans Stadium, he has scored fifteen goals in forty-four outings.

Reece Thompson

 Boston completed somewhat of a coup when they convinced striker Reece Thompson to join the Pilgrims on loan. The dangerous forward was North Ferriby United’s top-scorer in their 2016-17 National League campaign, earning a move to Guiseley in the summer of 2017. He struggled to break into the Lions’ first-team but has found his feet at the Jakemans Stadium. The former Frickley Athletic and York City forward has found the back of the net on nine occasions since arriving and netted in their recent 2-1 win over Darlington at Blackwell Meadows.

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