Robinson hails Truro Trophy win as Hungerford’s most comprehensive performance of the season
Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson described Saturday's 2-0 win over Truro City as his side's most comprehensive performance of the season.
Second half goals from Joe Shepherd and Great Evans, who scored for the first time since returning from a long-term knee injury, fired the Crusaders to a comfortable win over the National League South strugglers that saw them book their place in the third round of the FA Trophy.
"I think it was our most comprehensive performance of the season," Robinson said.
"Obviously, going down to Totton and winning there was maybe the most enjoyable. That was a different type of performance where we had to dig in and fight for everything.
"I thought, on Saturday, from start to finish we were in complete control.
"We were very good. We created chances and should've been leading at half time, the only thing missing from our first half was putting the ball in the back of the net.
"Halfway through the second half Joe Shepherd, who has been absolutely magnificent, popped up with a good finish and in truth we were comfortable from then on."
Robinson made a change in the heart of midfield with Sam De St Croix, who missed last Tuesday's draw with Winchester through illness, returning to replace Jack Alexander, the team's traditional holder. That meant that Brad Hooper, who scored in midweek, occupied the deepest-lying midfield role, where he'd spent most of his time while at Swindon Supermarine. And Robinson was full of praise for the 29-year-old, who will be hoping he can continue his good form and cement a place in the starting XI.
Robinson said: "We've been playing Brad slightly higher this season, in his time at Swindon Supermarine he was always the one to hold and screen the back four. I just think he's got so much ability on the ball, so I wanted to get him further forward.
"He's probably the most intelligent football player – along with Jack Alexander – that we do have at the football club. Jack looked a bit leggy, looked a bit tired on Tuesday, and I knew Hoops had done that position before.
"He's very good in possession, he's very good on the ball, he wins his fair share of headers. For me, he was probably our best player on Saturday. I waited so long to work with him and now he's here, I really am enjoying working with him."
There was another new face in goal for Town, with Nick Harvey making his second debut for the club. Harvey, who was one of 11 goalkeepers to pull on the gloves for Hungerford last season and trains full-time with Wycombe Wanderers, was filling the void left by 41-year-old Ryan Clarke, who is still recovering from a deal leg he suffered in the draw with Hanwell Town two weeks ago. Robinson admitted he was pleased with the performance of the young goalkeeper and said he expects Clarke to be back either this weekend or next.
"Ryan's a massive personality, a massive character and a massive player for us," he said.
"Nick came in and did brilliantly well. He wasn't really tested, but the bits that he had to deal with he dealt with superbly.
"We're hoping we'll have Clarkey back for the Harrow Borough game, and if not the week after, that's probably the worst case.
"Nick has shown he's more than capable, and he'll be playing for us tomorrow night. He's a terrific young goalkeeper. He's got even better from last year and he is going to be a very good number one in his own right."
At the other end, the returning Great Evans was a hugely popular goalscorer after he continued his comeback from a knee injury with a late goal to make sure of the victory. And, following the recent departure of David Bremang before he'd even kicked a ball this season, Robinson is delighted to have Evans back and approaching full fitness as he bids to provide competition for talismanic top scorer Conor McDonagh.
He said: "His smile was as wide as the River Thames, and rightly so.
"It's been a long road for him and he's worked ever so hard after surgery. He's probably the hardest working player at this club. I must admit I didn't think we'd see much of him before Christmas. He himself has gone out and done it.
"He's very popular with the players and supporters. We won't rush him because it was such a bad injury. Conor's obviously done brilliantly, but we know a fit and firing Great Evans is going to give us something as well. We're blessed to have both of them."
Town welcome Binfield for a Berks and Bucks Cup clash tomorrow night, and Robinson admits he'll make use of his squad ahead of Saturday's Southern Premier League visit of 19th placed Harrow Borough – with former Thatcham man Babs Jarra in line for his debut
"It'll only be Nick Harvey, Brad Hooper and Adulai Sambu that started Saturday that'll be starting on Tuesday," he said.
"The bench will be full of academy lads and a lad from Boreham Wood, who we're going to have a look at.
"We take it fully seriously, and it's a massive opportunity for some of the lads that have been on the fringes to come in and impress. It's down to them to go and stake a claim."