Published: 05:00, 07 January 2022
Manager Tommy Warrilow can see the improvement in Gary Lockyer since his move to Ashford.
Warrilow knew he was bringing in a goalscorer when he signed Lockyer from Kennington last November.
The striker has delivered on that front, opening the scoring in a 2-2 draw with Faversham on New Year’s Day, followed by a match-winning double in a 3-2 success at Ramsgate on Monday.
That’s 25 for the season for Lockyer - five of those in Ashford colours - but it’s the other side of his game that’s impressed Warrilow.
“His overall game is getting better all the time,” said the Nuts & Bolts boss.
“He’s thinking about his game a lot more and the goals come with it.
“I’m talking about his hold-up play, his decision-making and his positional sense, he’s not just shooting on sight.
“He got two goals at Ramsgate and he got in some great areas to have more but the keeper made some good saves.
“He’s enjoying his football and scoring goals but, for me, it’s his overall game and I’m pleased for him.”
Ashford were forced to postponed their Christmas fixture at East Grinstead after a combination of Covid, illness, injuries and suspension left them with nine players.
They were still struggling against Faversham on New Year’s Day and could only name two substitutes - one of those being veteran keeper Lee Hook - after Tariq Ossai damaged ankle ligaments in the warm-up.
There was a further blow when Rhyle Ovenden was stretchered off with a knee injury in the first half, and he could be facing a lengthy spell out.
That made their 2-2 draw a decent point, with Tashi-Jay Kwaiye restoring the lead after Lockyer’s opener was cancelled out, only for Nuts & Bolts old boy Jono Richardson to level.
With midfielder Jack Hanson, their new signing from Cray Wanderers, named in the starting XI and other players returning, Ashford were able to fill their bench at Ramsgate.
Lockyer struck either side of Kwayie’s penalty as the visitors moved two points behind leaders Hastings with a game in hand.
Rams had defender Jake McInytre sent off in the incident leading to Kwayie’s spot-kick, bringing down Lockyer, and Warrilow felt they could have few complaints.
“They lost the lad for the penalty but we created more than enough chances to have been out of sight - it could have been four or five at half-time,” said Warrilow.
“Apparently the rules have changed so if the referee gives the penalty it’s now down to his discretion whether it’s a red on top.
"He’s the last man, he’s brought the man down, it’s a penalty. Do the maths. I’m pretty sure if we’d done it, Ramsgate would have jumping up and down for a red.”
Warrilow, whose team host second-bottom Lancing this Saturday, has been impressed with new arrival Hanson.
The youngster, who started his career at Dover, became available following Danny Kedwell’s sacking at Cray.
“I’m well pleased to get him,” said Warrilow. “The people I spoke to gave him rave reviews.
“He was highly thought of at Dover but it’s a massive jump into the Conference at his age.
“He got injured at Cray, so we need to get him fit, but we were able to get him after Keds left, and he came in and had a solid debut.
“He took a whack with 25 minutes to go, so we took him off, but he made a good impression.”