Bristol Rovers striker Jonah Ayunga has ‘every chance of playing at a higher level’, says Hawks boss Paul Doswell

Paul Doswell was 'chuffed' to see former Hawk Jonah Ayunga get off the mark in League One for Bristol Rovers with a double against Pompey earlier this week.

Jonah Ayunga celebrates his second goal against Pompey. Pic: Graham Hunt, Pro Sports Images.
Jonah Ayunga celebrates his second goal against Pompey. Pic: Graham Hunt, Pro Sports Images.

And he is hoping the forward can now push on and start firing in the goals on a regular basis in the EFL.

Ayunga was one of the most feared strikers in non-league last term, netting almost 30 goals in all competitions for Hawks.

It was form that didn't go unnoticed with the striker stepping up three divisions to join Rovers in the summer.

But a hamstring tear picked up in September halted his progress after moving back into the Football League - he had previously had a spell at Brighton.

In fact, his double in the 3-1 victory over Pompey on Tuesday were his first goals in the league for caretaker Tommy Widdrington's side.

For Doswell, who also worked with Ayunga during his time at Sutton, it was a 'proud' moment for both him and Hawks.

And he reckons Ayunga could play even higher up the pyramid should his double kickstart a scoring run.

Doswell said: ‘I’m just chuffed for him, getting two goals starts his league career.

'We’re really proud of him - it wasn’t the opposition, it was more the fact that he got his first goals in league football.

'If he gets on a run he’s got every chance of going to a higher level, that’s always been our opinion, but with all these things you’ve got to get in and stay in that team and it’s not always easy at that level.

'My hope for Jonah is that he goes and gets his 10 or 20 goals and hopefully for his career goes and gets an even better move.'

Doswell admitted there was a certain 'irony' as he netted against Pompey.

The Hawks boss had made both Blues boss Kenny Jackett and chief executive Mark Catlin aware of the marksman while he was at Westleigh Park.

But Pompey opted against moving for Ayunga, with Doswell acknowledging there are 'better' forwards than his former striker currently at PO4.

He said: '‘The irony is Pompey were very aware of him because he was playing for us and Kenny and Mark Catlin were made aware of him. At the moment, Portsmouth have clearly got better players.

'I texted him after the game and just said, ‘brilliant, first two goals, keep it going and keep working hard.’

‘We want to keep in touch and wish him all our best.'

Prior to Tuesday, Ayunga had only made one EFL start for Rovers - in a 1-0 home loss to Charlton in early January. He had also made 12 sub appearances under two managers, Ben Garner - who signed him last July - and Paul Tisdale.

Widdrington - father of Hawks midfielder Theo - was taking interim charge of the Gas for the first time against Pompey.