After more than a quarter of a century in football management, England C boss Paul Fauirclough knows a striker when he sees one – and Hemel Hempstead Town striker Ben Mackey has caught his eye.
So much so the Barnet director of football is tipping Mackey to go all the way and claim the Golden Boot trophy at the National Game Awards, for the most deadly finisher in non-league football.
Mackey has already struck 43 goals this campaign, beating the Tudors’ club record for most goals in a season set by Anthony Thomas in 2006 and helping Town to the top of the Calor Southern Premier table.
The 27-year-old faces tough competition for the prize, however, from John Frendo of Southern Premier rivals St Albans City, as well as the prolific Ross Allen at Ryman South side Guernsey.
“I’ve been privileged to manage players who have won the Golden Boot, I had Giuliano Grazioli and I know what it means to these players,” said Fairclough.
“Frendo last year was the winner and is doing it again this year, bashing in the goals.
“I go to watch these players, Frendo and the likes of Mackey and they’re completely contrasting players.
“Frendo seems to be in the right place at the right time over and over again.
“And Mackey is just all over the defenders like a rash he’s in their face, he’s aggressive he’s dynamic and they both have this gift of scoring a goal.
And Fairclough believes all the strikers in the running for the Golden Boot could thrive at a higher level.
“Say they go up two levels and halve the goals they score, they go down to scoring 20 goals a season, surely that’s enough for any forward the higher you go,” he added.
“It’s whether the clubs will take a chance on these fellas. They know how to score a goal at whatever level.”
The Golden Boot isn’t the only title Mackey is in the running for, however, with the Hemel hitman also nominated for the Step 3/4 Player of the Season prize.
Mackey is up against Frendo, Mettam, Dulwich Hamlet pair Xavier Vidal and Erhun Oztume, and Wealdstone’s Tom Pett for the trophy.
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