Spencer Day admitted to being handed a new year hangover with the shock departure of Dave Tarpey – but said he was powerless to stop the popular striker returning to Hampton & Richmond Borough.
The 25-year-old left Cherrywood Road on New Year’s Eve to take a step down to the Ryman Premier Division and reunite with his best mate and former strike partner Charlie Moone at the Beveree.
Since arriving from Hampton in the summer of 2012, Tarpey, with his bustling style and eye for goal, has become a firm favourite with the Boro faithful, netting 43 times for the club.
In the end, however, a change in Tarpey’s personal circumstances prompted him to ask for a move and boss Day admitted the hard-working front man would be hard to replace given that the club is operating on the most threadbare of budgets.
“It certainly wasn’t the plan to lose Tarps,” Day said. “He came to me, totally amicably, and just said that he had issues in his personal life which meant he needed a fresh start.
“I love Tarps, he’s been great for me so it wouldn’t have been right to stand in his way if that’s what he really wanted to do.
“We’ve got our money back on him but unfortunately you just can’t replace players like Dave Tarpey on the money we are offering, so in that respect, of course, it is a blow.”
Day, however, has gone some way to doing just that by adding much-travelled striker Moses Ashikodi to his squad this week.
The 25-year-old, once dubbed “a major talent” by Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew when at West Ham, arrives on a short-term deal having turned out for a number of league and non-league clubs such as Watford, Swindon, Kettering and Ebbsfleet United.
Ashikodi is expected to lead the front line against Staines Town on Saturday, and Day insisted the spotlight was very much on the Nigerian-born Antigua & Barbuda international.
“He’s come to prove he is good enough to play at this level,” Day said. “He certainly comes with good pedigree, so let’s see.
“It’s a short-term gig on next to no money and he will get his chance. It’s up to him now to prove his worth.”
Day has revealed he is hoping to add to his squad for Saturday’s visit of Marcus Gayle's Swans – if not in time for the home clash with Ebbsfleet United on Tuesday night.
And he certainly needs to bolster the numbers with centre back Adam Doyle serving the last of his three-match suspension, while midfield dynamo Steve Laidler misses both games having accumulated 10 bookings.
Nathan Koo-Boothe and Tyrone Berry, both brought back to the club over Christmas, continue to stand by, while on-loan Harry Williams is expected to make his full debut.