Josh Huggins may have had to wait to make an impression at Hampton & Richmond Borough, but he is more than happy to take his second chance at the Beveree.
The 21-year-old has been the Beavers’ most consistent player since coming into boss Mark Harper’s starting line-up and his goal helped his side secure a 1-1 draw Blue Square South leaders Woking on Saturday.
The former Aldershot Town trainee first joined Hampton under former boss Alan Devonshire in 2009, but failed to make an impression before drifting out of the game.
But his return to the Beveree this term, after a brief spell at Didcott, has re-ignited his career and he hopes the flame can burn bright enough to save Hampton from the drop this term.
“I first came to Hampton when I was released by Aldershot, but Dev still had the old guard here then and I never really got a chance,” he said.
“I ended up at Crawley Town and was just sitting on the bench so I ended up taking a break from the game.
“It has taken me a while to force my way in and it took eight or nine goals in 12 or 13 games for the reserves to do it.
“But it has been going well and getting the goal on Saturday was great. It is just nice to be playing.
“We just want to push on now and make sure we stay up.
“We’ve got some winnable games between now and the end of the season and we don’t want it to go down to the last day.”
Striker Joel Ledgister’s return from Sutton United last week proved inspirational on Saturday, but it was defender Dean Inman’s deft header that set up Huggins for his goal.
Ledgister, who signed for Hampton for an undisclosed fee, was a revelation during a loan spell at the Beveree before Christmas.
And Huggins admitted his second-coming as a Beaver, and the arrival of experienced defender Neil Jenkins, could be pivotal to Hampton’s chances of avoiding the drop.
“There are a few 18 and 19-year-olds in the squad and the rest are about 23 or 24, so we need that bit of experience,” he added.
“Neil gives us that and you saw when Darren Powell went off injured that he settled us down.
“Joel was brilliant the last time he was here. He brings good balance to the team and links up well with Dave Tarpey, who has been our best performer this year. Hopefully, they can hit it off again.
“That can only be good for us.”
Hampton’s hopes were dealt a slight blow this week after loanees Ryan Blake and Tobi Alabi were recalled to their parent clubs Brentford and Millwall, respectively.
Hampton take their relegation battle to Chelmsford City on Saturday.