OF all the new faces at the Hawks this season, none has made a bigger impression so far than experienced midfielder Nicky Bailey.
The 35-year-old won the man-of-the-match award in the opening-day draw against Welling United.
And it was no co-incidence that when he was on the substitutes’ bench at Hampton & Richmond the team didn't look anywhere near as secure.
He also figured prominently in the 6-0 midweek demolition of Dorking Wanderers.
Manager Paul Doswell appreciates what Bailey brings to the team both on and off the pitch.
‘Nicky has got his mojo back,’ said Doswell.
‘You don't play Championship football and make a £2m move to Middlesborough unless you are some player.
‘What he has done is work hard to maintain a level of fitness during the summer to come here and prove a point.
‘He is doing the job that Brian Stock did for the Hawks before they lost him last season.
‘One of the great things is that he is so versatile.
‘I can play him right-back, left-back, midfield and he could even play centre-forward.
‘When it looked like goalkeeper Ross Worner might be injured he put his hand up for that, too.
‘He is one of those that thinks he can play table-tennis, golf or any sport and win.
‘Because of his football brain he reads the game so well with fantastic anticipation.
‘You don't have to be the quickest player on the pitch if you have a football brain.
‘He has a Masters degree in football.’
Although two-goal Jonah Ayunga won the man-of-the-match award against Dorking, Bailey was again another strong candidate.
Doswell felt it could have gone to any number of players as it was such a complete team performance.
Dorking hardly knew what hit them as the home side produced a slick display.
The passing was perceptive and accurate and the visitors had no answer to the Hawks’ movement off the ball.
When they didn't have the ball the hosts showed a great desire and hunger to hunt it down.