Neil Aspin says Liam Needham’s hard work is beginning to pay off after the midfielder played a starring role in Town’s 3-0 FA Trophy win over Chelmsford.
Needham’s brace, either side of a Jason St Juste tap-in, booked Town a quarter-final berth against Dartford, and Aspin said the 27-year-old’s hard work off the pitch is producing results on it.
He said: “To be fair to Liam, when he was at Guiseley he scored goals from midfield but since coming here hasn’t done himself justice in terms of getting forward.
“But after not being in the team he’s got himself fit by working hard away from the club and that’s affecting his game now as he’s able to get around the pitch more.
“He used to be able to get from box-to-box and I’m delighted that he’s got the goals today but his all-round performance was good as well.”
Needham got Town off to the perfect start on Saturday, and Aspin said scoring first was crucial to the victory.
He said: “The first goal in any game is always important but especially when you play at home. It means that the opposition have to come out and it leaves space in behind, and takes a bit of pressure off the players because the crowd gets anxious.
“All the reports I’d had back about Chelmsford meant I was expecting a difficult game. They had a great result in the last round against Hereford so I knew if we weren’t at our best and didn’t pick our performances up from the last two games that it wouldn’t be good enough to win the tie. But I must give the players credit, the work-rate was excellent, they showed great commitment, togetherness and they thoroughly deserved to win.
A second consecutive clean sheet also drew praise from the Town boss, who reiterated the importance of keeping things tight at the back.
He added: “I said to the players on Tuesday that it doesn’t matter what happens up top, we’ve got to keep it solid at the back.
“We had a bad 20 minute spell at Gainsborough, in which we conceded the goals, but that hasn’t been like us this season.
“We must make sure that we’re always at our game defensively and everything this season has been based on a good defensive record.”