Published: 05:00, 14 January 2022
| Updated: 07:55, 14 January 2022
A popular figure is back at Herne Bay to help their Isthmian South East promotion challenge.
Bola Dawodu left the club in October and joined Faversham, although Bay boss Ben Smith conceded he was a player he had always wanted to keep.
Versatile player Dawodu has been in fine form for the Lilywhites, chipping in with five goals from centre midfield, but has now returned to Winch’s Field.
Explaining how Dawodu’s comeback had come about after their 2-1 Velocity Trophy loss to Whitstable on Tuesday night, Smith said: “I didn’t want Bola to go to Faversham. He left because he needed to get minutes.
“He has gone there and been playing well. He’s fit and is someone who comes back in hungry.
"He is a very popular figure at the club. He is popular in the dressing room, so it feels like home to him.
“It’s not a difficult one to get over the line or to fit back in because he knows exactly what we are doing. So he will add a lot of different options.
“On Tuesday, I could have moved him up top, for example, but I have used him at centre-half as well. But he has been playing well for Faversham in midfield, scoring goals.
"He brings something different which is good.”
Bay were 2-0 down at home to Whitstable before midfielder Bode Anidugbe pulled one back in front of a 511-strong crowd.
But Smith, who started captain Laurence Harvey, Jack Parter and first-choice keeper Jordan Perrin on the bench, and also brought off striker Zak Ansah, admitted: “It’s never nice (to lose any derby match) but it was just one of those, wasn’t it? We had most of the game in terms of possession but we didn’t create enough.
“We never go out there to lose a game but we made six or seven changes from the side we normally play, so I absolutely won’t be reading too much into it.”
Smith says Dawodu is available for third-placed Bay’s trip to Corinthian this Saturday.
Smith has also signed Kane Phillip, while the club remain in talks with one other potential new arrival.
“I know a lot about Corinthian anyway because, obviously, I was in SCEFL,” said ex-Canterbury City boss Smith, who watched them draw 2-2 with Whitstable last weekend with Bay’s match at Chichester called off.
“They’re a tough nut to crack. They are consistent.
“They will give the same kind of performance week-in, week-out. Some weeks, that will give them wins and, some weeks, they will narrowly miss out. But they are a good side and I have full respect for them.
“They were unlucky not to beat Whitstable on Saturday. It’s a tough game for us but they are all tough in this league. You are not going to win 7-2 every week.
“No injuries from Tuesday was probably the most important thing if we are being brutally honest.
“I want to see a bit more quality and a bit more urgency in what we are doing on Saturday - but I’m sure I will.”
The match at Corinthian starts a crucial period for Bay, who are seven points off the summit but who have two matches in hand on frontrunners Hastings.
They are at Faversham on Tuesday, ahead of matches against play-off hopefuls VCD and second-placed Ashford before the end of the month.