Andy Peaks was full of praise for top scorer Nabil Shariff as he got back on the goal trail for AFC Rushden & Diamonds at the weekend.
The striker hit a hat-trick and also had a penalty saved as Diamonds ended a three-match losing run with a 4-1 success at bottom side Northwich Victoria to move back into the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One South play-off places.
The treble took Shariff on to 18 goals in all competitions this season but also ended a recent barren run.
The frontman had only scored once in the calendar year before the weekend having enjoyed an impressive first half of the campaign.
Shariff had found himself out of the starting line-up in recent matches but Peaks recalled him to partner Jack Bowen in attack and they scored all the goals between them as Bowen put Diamonds in front with his first strike since returning to the club.
And Peaks was delighted to see Shariff back doing what he does best.
“Nabil scored a hat-trick but he missed a penalty and also had what turned out to be a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside so he could have ended up with five,” the Diamonds boss said.
“He was ill with a problem with his lungs last season and he worked really hard during pre-season and had a great start but, just recently, he had been looking a bit jaded.
“I eventually took the decision to bring him out of the team and he reacted exactly how I expected and wanted.
“He trained even harder and he has been waiting for his chance.
“It was the right time to get him back in and he has come back with an excellent hat-trick.
“We know what he is capable of and if he continues that sort of form then it will only be good for us.”
Diamonds are back in action tomorrow (Tuesday) night when they face Buxton in the quarter-finals of the Intergro League Cup at the Dog & Duck.