Paul Doswell applauded Jonah Ayunga’s pre-season scoring streak but warned the striker: You’ll be judged on league goals.
The former Brighton & Hove Albion Academy forward has impressed with his all-round performances during the Hawks’ summer friendlies.
With fellow strikers Danny Kedwell and Alfie Rutherford ruled out by injury, Ayunga has grabbed his opportunity with both hands.
But Doswell, who leads his troops into battle for the first time on Saturday with the visit of Welling to Westleigh Park, reckons the acid test for his 22-year-old hitman is what happens next.
And the Hawks boss has urged Ayunga to use his momentum as a springboard to greater things.
Doswell said: ‘When we lost Danny and Alfie to injury in our first friendly it put a lot on Jonah's shoulders.
‘He was asked to step up to the plate and he did that.
‘I sat down with him and spelled out what he needed to do to become more than an average striker.
‘He has taken that on board and has looked every bit a Football League player.
‘Jonah has also worked extremely hard away from the club.
‘So far he has looked a different player but he will eventually be judged by the goals he scores in our league.
‘That is the next challenge facing him.’
Ayunga, who hails from Beaminster in Dorset, started his career at Dorchester Town before moving to the Seagulls’ academy in 2016.
He failed to break into the senior ranks at Brighton, though, and after loan spells at Burgess Hill, Sligo Rovers, Galway United and Poole, he joined joined Doswell at Sutton United in 2018.
A broken leg suffered in Ireland hampered his progress at Gander Green Lane.
And in February he arrived at Westleigh Park on loan – scoring in his first two games before being recalled by Sutton.
The Hawks signed off their pre-season campaign with a 2-0 success over Eastleigh last weekend.
And while he didn’t find the net, Ayunga teed up Josh Taylor for the second goal.
His strike partner, Roarie Deacon, had earlier given the National League South outfit the lead.
Once again Doswell’s troops showed good physicality in beating National League opposition.
Defensively the Hawks were sound – with central defenders Dean Beckwith and Sam Magri forming a solid partnership.
Full-backs Benny Read, who arrived at Westleigh Park from Wessex League Horndean, and Anthony Straker have also looked at home in defence and attack.
In midfield, the Hawks have the energy of Wes Fogden alongside the experience of Andy Drury and Nicky Bailey.