Prior praise for mentor Miles

Former Bognor striker Jason Prior on trial at Newcastle before signing for AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Ian Horrocks
Former Bognor striker Jason Prior on trial at Newcastle before signing for AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Ian Horrocks
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Jason Prior heaped praise on Moneyfields manager Miles Rutherford after completing his move to League Two outfit AFC Wimbledon.

The 23-year-old credited his former boss for helping him make the step-up to full-time football after he put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year contract at the Kingsmeadow Stadium.

Prior’s move, believed to be for a fee in the region of £16,000 plus sell-ons, came after his impressive goalscoring exploits for Ryman League division one south side Bognor.

The striker scored 95 goals in 126 appearances for the Nyewood Lane outfit, quickly catching the eye of scouts following his switch from Wessex League Moneyfields in 2009.

Newcastle United offered him a two-week trial last month, pulling the plug on a £12,500 move to Blue Square Bet South side Eastleigh.

But when Toon boss Alan Pardew failed to take up the option to sign Prior, the striker was not short of offers and was quick to wrap up a move to AFC Wimbledon.

Prior made his Dons debut in their 2-1 home defeat against Aldershot on Saturday, coming on as a 74th-minute substitute.

His first appearance as a full-time player came just two years after plying his trade in division one of the Wessex League with Moneyfields.

But the help he received along the way hasn’t been forgotten by Prior, who was converted into a striker during his days under Rutherford at Dover Road.

‘It’s a pretty good story, to be fair, coming from the lower ranks of non league to the Football League,’ said Prior.

‘I’m a bit of an old-fashioned target man.

‘I am good in the air, can hold the ball up and just look to get into the box whenever I can for deliveries.

‘But when I was at Moneyfields I was a midfielder.

‘The manager, Miles Rutherford, stuck me up front one day, gave me a go up there and I haven’t looked back since.

When I went to Bognor, Jamie Howell and Darin Kilpartrick, the two managers, were also great.

‘They all changed my game really.

‘They brought me to where I am today.’

Prior said he had no hesitation in signing for a Wimbledon side who only returned to the Football League at the start of the season and currently sit 15th in the League Two table.

He added that he was looking forward to playing his part in an exciting period for the league’s new boys.

‘The manager (Terry Brown) has been keeping an eye on me since I was at Bognor,’ he said.

‘I knew of his interest and when I played up at Newcastle he came up and watched.

‘All along he’s shown a firm interest in me and that was important.

‘I’m now just looking to push on as far as we can as a club.

‘I’m looking forward to being part of that.’