Jack Maloney is one of the most creative players in the Wessex League.
That is the verdict of Horndean boss Michael Birmingham after the former Pompey talent’s spectacular winner at Portland United on Tuesday.
He is intelligent with an outstanding football brain and the boy is a playerMichael Birmingham
The 23-year-old showed his quality with the decisive moment late in the FA Vase tie.
And while Birmingham is not convinced Maloney meant it, he is in no doubt about his ability.
‘Jack has an excellent pedigree having been at Pompey,’ said the Deans boss.
‘He is intelligent with an outstanding football brain and the boy is a player.
‘When I first took over some people told me he wasn’t my type of player.
‘They felt he didn’t work hard enough on the pitch.
‘That is not true and he is very deceptive in what he does do.
‘Sometimes it is frustrating because he sees things other players can’t.
‘He is not one of those players who is going to cover every single blade of grass but he doesn’t need to.
‘I just tell him to go out and do what he is good at.
‘He is tasked with the job of showing what a good player he is going forward.
‘It makes sense to play him out wide with his ability to deliver the ball without having to beat anyone.’
Maloney joined Pompey’s academy at the age of nine and in February 2011 gained a two-year scholarship at Fratton Park.
He made his senior debut in August 2012 as a substitute against Plymouth Argyle in the League Cup.
Limited substitute appearances followed before he embarked on loan spells – at Aldershot, Poole Town, Bognor and Salisbury.
‘Sometimes it is very difficult when you get released from the professional game to come to terms with part-time football,’ added Birmingham.
‘Suddenly you have to put in a day’s work before training and playing games.
‘Since coming to us he has been great.
‘He might not be the best trainer in the world but he is always there.
‘All the players know what he is capable of and he is an important cog in our team.’
Horndean’s reward for their 1-0 Vase win at Portland is a home tie in the next round against Royal Wootton Bassett Town from the Hellenic League.
Birmingham was delighted with the success but was angered by comments made by the home side’s management.
Portland boss Simon Browne said the Deans were not ‘as formidable a side’ as he had been told.
Birmingham said: ‘They should have given my players a little more credit.
‘We won the game. They should spend more time looking at their own team.’