Connolly makes big Farnborough entranceBy Jon Couch
October 25, 2012
SPENCER DAY has revealed the motivation behind Boro’s latest success – a surprise re-introduction of a new club favourite.
The Farnborough boss waited until just minutes before kick-off at Westleigh Park to reveal to his players that popular striker Reece Connolly had rejoined the club on loan.
And the Aldershot front man made his presence felt almost immediately with the only goal of the game to hand Boro a first away win of the season and lift them to the dizzy heights of fifth in the table.
“It was a bit of fun really,” Day explained. “The players were really down on Tuesday when I informed them that Reece had to go back to Aldershot. He's a very popular figure in the dressing room.
“Then, late on Friday night, I had a phone call from [Aldershot Town manager] Dean Holdsworth and we did a deal to bring Reece back, one that worked for both clubs.
“I asked Dean not to announce it and told Reece to turn up late on purpose, and with all the players sat down in the dressing room, just minutes from kick-off, we announced it to them and in he came through the door for his big entrance.
“It gave the dressing room an extra five per cent lift to have him around, it was just the effect I wanted. Then, he goes and scores the winner for us so I couldn’t be more delighted.”
And Connolly was also introduced to his brand new strike partner in the shape of former Fulham and Leicester City striker Elvis Hammond, who finally agreed a deal to join the club last week following his release from prison.
The 32-year-old Ghanian won the league title with Woking last season before being imprisoned in July as part of an international money laundering scam.
“He’s a good lad who's had a tough time of it,” Day explained. “I’m certainly not a hypocrite and believe that everyone is entitled to a second chance.
“Elvis also happens to be a quality footballer and experienced at this level. He’s not match fit yet but he’s a player I’ve always admired and I’m delighted to have him here.”
Hammond was named on the bench on Saturday but came on to partner Connolly up front after replacing Nic Ciardini for the last 17 minutes.
By then, however, Day's in-form side were well on the way to recording their third successive league victory, while condemning Lee Bradbury to defeat in his first home game in charge of the Hawks.
Both Connolly and Ciardini caused panic in the home defence early on until Boro did eventually make the breakthrough in the 16th minute. Dave Tarpey skipped past full-back Perry Ryan to the byline and crossed low for target man Connolly to turn the ball home for his fourth goal in three Boro starts this term.
By now, Boro were on the front foot with Dan Bennett forcing a fine save from keeper Clark Masters, while Dean Inman somehow headed over from six yards following Ciardini's free-kick from the right.
At the other end, Craig Bradshaw had to be alert to keep out Ed Harris’ header from Christian Nanetti's corner.
Connolly came within inches of grabbing his second goal after Tarpey again outstripped Ryan down the right, but, in truth, this was somewhat against the run of play as Havant upped the tempo in search of an equaliser.
One-time Boro target Sahr Kabba just failed to get enough contact on Nanetti’s fine centre, while substitute Jordan Roberts, who, like Connolly, is on loan from Aldershot, curled an effort narrowly over.
Fellow sub Scott Jones missed a golden opportunity to level when somehow skying Nanetti's ball high over the top from close range, but, in all honesty, a late leveller for the hosts would have been hard on battling Boro, who themselves should have wrapped up victory through Bennett late on.
“We should have been out of sight in the first half,” Day said. “We scored a great team goal and played some lovely football at times, and but for 15 minutes of sustained pressure in the second half, which you expect away from home, I thought we deserved the points.”
Day, however, is remaining grounded by his side’s recent run of form, adding: “It’s great obviously to see us up there in the higher reaches but I’ve told the players not to pay too much attention to the table.
“Yes, three points can take us second, like Staines did on Tuesday night, but at the same time a couple of defeats could put us right back in the relegation zone, it’s that tight.
“I know that after a good run a slap in the face is just around the corner so we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard.”
Day’s attentions now turn to Saturday’s trip to Kingfield where Boro take on Woking's tenants Hayes & Yeading.
And the Boro boss is under no illusions as to the task that awaits his side.
“I saw them on Sunday and they are the best team I’ve seen this season in this division,” Day conceded. “They were robbed in their defeat against Boreham Wood and will be a wounded animal against us. They're very physical and very quick, so we have to prepare correctly.”
The good news for Boro is that captain Steve Laidler has recovered from the illness which forced him out of Havant & Waterlooville game, while Oli Treacher, who limped off with a leg injury just before half-time, also trained this week and is expected to return.
BORO: Bradshaw, Bosch, Treacher (Moody 45), Inman, Inns, Jones, Bennett, Abalimba (Huggins 66), Connolly, Tarpey, Ciardini (Hammond 73). Subs: Smith, Norris.
Ref: R Atkins. Att: 755.
* Farnborough FC are mourning the passing of two popular, loyal fans this week.
Kev Miles passed away on Saturday following a long illness while Ken Clements lost his short battle with cancer. Both will be sorely missed.