Sheppey United made immediate use of their new director of football after needing to find a goalkeeper at short notice.
The Ites’ regular keeper Aiden Prall picked up an injury at work the day before they were due to face play-off rivals Three Bridges and the club’s new man behind the scenes, Matt Longhurst, came up trumps as he called in former West Brom keeper Beau Hudd.
Sheppey boss Ernie Batten was grateful for the assistance of Longhurst, whose appointment by the club was announced last week.
Batten met the new keeper at 1.30pm on Saturday and by 5pm was thanking his new addition for helping them keep a clean sheet and an important 1-0 victory.
“On Friday evening Aiden reported that he had a little bit of an accident at work,” explained Batten.
“He’s a tree surgeon, he either tripped or fell and injured his knee. We‘re trying to convince him to take a desk job because he had a foot injury the other week from work!
“It was all hands on deck ringing around. Matt Longhurst has a lot of contacts and through one of those we managed to get someone in who had been at West Brom last season where he got released.
“The more hands you have around on things like that and the more contacts you can bring to the front, it is imperative.
“It is hard to carry two very good goalkeepers week in, week out, we did well to get him.
“He did all right without having any major saves to make, he took crosses well, his handling was good and his distribution was pretty good. Without seeing him beforehand, we took a chance and he did very well.”
Jacob Lambert scored the only goal of the game on 76 minutes, converting substitute Danny Leonard’s cross.
“It was an important game to win if we have designs of getting into the top five,” added Batten.
“We played extremely well first half and had a couple of opportunities and we should have had more. Our final ball was off on the day, but the build-up play and everything around it was very good.
“We deserved to be in front at half-time but went in 0-0, we carried on much the same second half it was a good performance and we got the all-important goal.
“It was a terrific goal and he’s probably the last player you’d expect it from, he’s only a towering five footish and five stone wringing wet!
“It was a great build-up, a lovely ball from Danny Leonard who just sat it up and the timing of the run was all-important, he got there just as the ball arrived and just got his head in between. It was quite brave as there was a defender there as well, he kept his eye on the ball and put it away.”
Isthmian South East table
Next up for Isthmian South East play-off chasers Sheppey is an away game at bottom-side Beckenham Town.
The Ites have found some form with wins either side of a terrific point at leaders Ramsgate but Batten knows not to get complacent against the basement side.
“They are never easy,” he warned. “Whether you play the top side or the bottom, it is all about performance on the day. If you reach the level you aspire to then you have a good chance of winning but this league is brutal.
“We have seen some results which have surprised us and we have to approach it as an extremely hard game.
“Beckenham are fighting for their lives and they are going to give it everything. With a number of games to go, if any of those sides towards the bottom go on a run then they will dig themselves out of it. I am sure they haven’t given up hope and it will be a tough game.”
Prall’s knee injury was being assessed during the week with Hudd available to stay on if needed.