IT’S taken a while but we finally have a home win. It feels like an eternity since we whooped North Ferriby 6-0 back in March to record our last three points at Blackwell Meadows. During the seven winless home games there had been varying levels of performance. Some we should have won. Some we just want to forget about altogether, but finally we played well and got a result that reflected the performance.

I went on a bit of an optimism rollercoaster before the game. I was feeling really buoyed with the return of Tom Elliott and Joe Wheatley to the midfield but then deflated on the news Terry Galbraith and Simon Ainge would miss the game. With Reece Styche away representing Gibraltar, the prospect of playing without either of our frontline strikers didn’t fill me with confidence. Likewise, the thought of Liam Hughes dropping in to the centre of defence didn’t feel ideal, but as it turned out we might have stumbled upon a solution to an ever-recurring issue in the last couple of years – how to sort out the centre of defence.

While Saturday’s game was relatively even during the first 30 minutes with both sides looking threatening, I was really impressed with how the whole team gradually turned the screw on our then unbeaten opponents. While the game remained at 1-0, I can’t imagine many will have taken the three points for granted. With clean sheets being like gold dust there was always the danger we could waste all our good work with one lapse of concentration but what was great to see was the whole team defend like their lives depended upon it from front to back meaning Telford rarely threatened. The performance was a team effort and everyone put a shift in to make the win a reality.

It’s really good when you can reflect on a game where everything clicked. There were no weak links. Everyone did exactly what they were there to do. In fact, we actually got more than we bargained for. The performance of Liam Hughes was about as big a bonus as you could possibly want to get from a game. In his post-game interview Hughes was the first to admit that his performances to date haven’t been the greatest, but operating in the centre of defence he could show all of his experience and nous while not exposing the fitness concerns that he is working on to rectify. We’ve been crying out for big guy at the back with a cool head and Hughes might just fit the bill. His anticipation and reading of the game was excellent and the extra quality of his distribution was a game-changer. If he can find that level of performance on a regular basis, he might just get his gaffer out of a bit of a quandary.

Meanwhile, the impact made by the reunion of Elliott and Wheatley was evident to all in attendance. I already love watching those two play in tandem. We are exponentially better for their partnership. I’ve read quite a few times on social media people saying we haven’t replaced Phil Turnbull. For me, Tom Elliott is an excellent replacement. If Phil Turnbull was a Rolls Royce, Tom Elliott is a Land Rover Defender. He is the ultimate utilitarian midfielder. He defends, he links up play well. He goes forward, he stays back. He adapts to the situation. He complements Joe Wheatley beautifully. On Saturday, he sat slightly deeper than Wheatley allowing the ex-Boro kid to show us what we’ve missed during his three game suspension. I believe our success this season will be dependent on us being able to keep them fit and on form. That may mean wrapping them up in cotton wool between games but it could be well worth it.