Dan Wooden’s recent positional switch has seen him establish himself as one of Gosport Borough’s key men, according to Alex Pike.
The midfielder has netted five goals in his past five Vanarama Conference South games and his double in the 3-2 win at Hayes & Yeading in midweek took him to 10 in all competitions for the season.
Having played much of his football as a left-winger for the club, the 24-year-old has recently been given the role behind the strikers in Pike’s current favoured diamond formation.
And the Borough boss will be hoping his in-form midfielder can continue his impressive run in tomorrow’s home showdown with second-from-bottom Farnborough.
Pike said: ‘When we first started using the diamond in midfield, Dan was playing on the left of it and he wasn’t getting into those goalscoring positions as often.
‘Now he is playing at the point of the diamond so when we go forward, it’s like we have a 4-3-3. It is causing defences all sorts of trouble.
‘Dan has that mobility and an eye for goal. He is ideal for that position.
‘We all know that in our first season at this level, we suffered as we didn’t score enough goals but he has certainly added to that.
‘There are two sides to his game and I like the fact he also has a defensive brain.
‘When we lose possession, we are back to a 4-4-2 and we are hard to break down. It works well.’
Although Justin Bennett and Matt Paterson have taken much of the goalscoring limelight this season, Pike insists Wooden also gets his recognition.
Pike said: ‘He certainly gets credit from me. In the earlier years, there were some issues with his attitude and I don’t think football was his main priority.
‘But he has matured and he knows he can handle this level. I think he can handle the level above as well.
‘He is one of the first names on my teamsheet now.’
Borough climbed back into the play-off places with their win at Hayes & Yeading and with 10 games to go, Pike has set his players a points target to seal a place in the top five.
He said: ‘We have got 10 games to go.
‘In order to make the play-offs, I think we need to take 23 points out of 30.
‘It’s a tall task and that starts with Farnborough.
‘I would never disrespect them and I know how difficult it will be.
‘We are playing them in the Hampshire Cup semi-final on Tuesday at their place as well.
‘So I’m not taking anything for granted.
‘I told the lads if they want to be in the top five of the division at the end of the season, they have got to beat sides like Hayes & Yeading and Farnborough.
‘But we also know how difficult that is because we slipped up against Staines and they are well adrift at the bottom.
‘Any team can beat any other team in this division.’
Nathan Ashmore’s midweek red card has now been appealed, but if that fails, any suspension has not yet kicked in anyway.
Meanwhile, Plymouth loanee, River Allen, had to make do with a place on the bench after driving to the wrong ground and arriving late on Tuesday night.
Thankfully, he already knows his way to Privett Park.
GOSPORT: (from) Ashmore, Forbes, Pearce, Robinson, Williams, Carter, Dunford, Smith, Wooden, Paterson, Bennett, Butcher, Wilde, Ramsey, Saez, Wort