Hemel Hempstead Town manager Dean Brennan praised the performances of experienced trio Matt Spring, Jamie Slabber and Dennis Oli as they helped to fire their side past Gosport Borough in emphatic style on Saturday.
The trio had all been unavailable for selection at various times in recent weeks, but they returned with a bang as Slabber bagged a hat-trick, Spring notched a wonder goal, and Oli weighed in with a couple of assists.
Brennan was delighted with the win, saying: “It was a good performance – it was good to get key players back for us and I think that was the difference really.
“Gosport is a tough place to go, and at 1-0 Jamie Butler made a great save from Rowan Vine, so everyone played their part – that includes the players who came off the bench.
“Full credit to the players, they showed good character when it was 4-2 and it could have got a bit ropey, but we went and got another goal so we finished off the game really well against a really good side and got a great win.
“It was a good, all-round-team performance, and the most important thing is that we won because we needed it.”
It was a good, all-round-team performance, and the most important thing is that we won because we needed it.Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan
Hailing the impact of his elder statesmen, Brennan continued: “The main difference from last week was just the players that we had back available, to be honest. We haven’t got a big squad by any stretch of the imagination, and when big player are missing it makes a difference.
“When Ronaldo is missing for Real Madrid they aren’t the same team, and when Slabber, Spring and Oli are missing for us, they are big losses.
“Slabber is a big player for us; he has always been a top goalscorer in this division throughout his career and he really suits our style of play.
“Springy scored one of the best goals I’ve ever seen in my life – it was unbelievable. But even before the goal we had three or four great chances and their keeper made some excellent saves; he had a fantastic game.
“Oli was outstanding for us, he was a constant threat, and I thought Hawks (Oliver Hawkins) and Slabber played really well together up front.
“The two young Reading lads did really well as well, and it was a very high level performance – hopefully we can continue with that.”
Brennan is now looking to kick on from the win, but knows how vital it is that his key players stay fit.
“We have a good bunch of lads who are as honest as the day is long and they have never let me down in the work-rate department, but we just have to keep our key players fit,” he said.
“Clean sheets are important and clean sheets bring success – we are scoring plenty of goals, now it’s just a case of doing the business at both ends.
“We’ve always scored a lot of goals since I’ve been manager here, and we broke records in the league below when we won the division.
“We have always played an attacking, high press, high tempo style of football but the key for us now really is just to keep everyone fit.
“If we can do that I think that we have a good chance of winning more games than we are going to lose.
“We just want to get some consistency, and some consistency in selection. We’ve got players like Ed Oshodi, Jack Smith and Ed Asafu-Adjaye still to come back, and I think when they do come back, we’ll have a good 16-man squad.
“Hopefully we can take the momentum from the Gosport win into this Saturday’s game against Eastbourne Borough because it’s going to be a very tough game.”