Joe Skarz believes newly-promoted Golcar United – and hat-trick hero Slater Barnes – are growing into life in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.
The Weavers have two wins, two draws and two defeats from their opening six matches and a hat-trick from wideman Barnes on Tuesday ensured a 3-1 win at Hallam.
Goals from Barnes, Kayle Price and Dan Naidole will be even more vital now after the departure of prolific striker Ash Flynn.
Player-coach Skarz, part of the management team with joint bosses Gav and Ash Connor, is content with the start but knows the team can continue to improve.
He said: “We have won two, drawn two and lost two in terms of results but performance wise we are really pleased and don’t feel we have deserved to lose a game.
“We were really unlucky to lose at home to Handsworth in a game we dominated and we were worthy of a point away to a tough side in Penistone.”
Skarz said while Golcar were growing into the higher league so was Barnes, 26, who signed in the summer from local side Huddersfield Amateurs, where he scored 28 goals last term.
“Slater came in and I think he’ll be the first to say during the first few friendlies he was finding his feet and adjusting to the level.
“He was excellent against Handsworth in the wing back role and has carried on his form since. He works ever so hard for the team first and foremost but has real quality on the ball too which we saw first hand in a friendly we played against him a few years ago and we’ve been after him ever since.
“I get excited about these players by trying to help and develop them, players such as Slater, Kayle Price and Kai Phillip.
“All three I feel are the future of the football club which is pivotal to progress it. I joined Golcar as I genuinely believe we can follow the likes of a Liversedge and get to that level.
“Yes, it will take time and there will be times when it’s tough but I’m so excited by the project and I love playing myself at the minute, more than I’ve ever done.
“I love helping out on the coaching team with Ash and Gav. Both have played a massive part in the success of the club so far and players like Slater and Kayle will only add to what we have.”
Barnes was still buzzing after his hat-trick against Hallam on Tuesday and said: “The hat-trick felt absolutely amazing but if it wasn’t for the team performance then I wouldn’t have got one, to be honest.
“It’s about the whole team performance. The goals are just a bonus to top off the team performance and getting the three points which is most important.”
On how the team has performed so far this season, he said: “The team performance has been really good. We have been unlucky in some of the games where we’ve had 10 men.
“The work from the lads has been second to none so all we can do is improve in training and take that into games and keep pushing and hopefully finish as high as we can.”
Barnes is loving being in the Golcar dressing room and added: “The mood in the changing room is really good, probably one of the best I’ve been in.
“It’s just positive all the time and the whole team get behind each other and it’s showing on the pitch.
“All we can do is keep pushing and getting three points where we can, keep our home ground a fortress and, with the fans’ help and support, we can do well. They’ve been unreal so far.”
On finding his feet at this level, he said: “To start with I found it was a lot quicker than where I was before and it took a couple of games but I’ve finally got to where I need to be fitness wise.
“The pace is a lot quicker and you have to work a lot harder off the ball as well as on it. However, the games are coming pretty quick so I think I’ve found my feet really well and the whole team have helped me settle in and it’s all positive and encouraging all the time which helps a lot.
“Ash, Gav and Joe Skarz have had a lot to say to me after games in what I can improve on and that’s helped a lot too.”
Next up for Golcar is a game against Eccleshall United at the Skye Direct Stadium on Saturday September 3 (3.00).
Former Huddersfield Town left-back Skarz said: “It’s a big game on Saturday and one in which, if we get maximum points, turns an ok start to the season into a good start.
“I know we are up against a good team but we must focus on ourselves and how we apply ourselves whilst being aware of the threats they pose.
“We are hoping for a big crowd with Huddersfield Town playing on Sunday. Hopefully we can put on a good competitive game, which I’m sure it will be. We worked so hard last season to get to step 5 football and we want to attack it and see where it takes us.”
Images by: SEAN DOYLE