Jason Kilbride has kicked off the new year on top form – despite concerns over his fitness.
Just a couple of days before Deeping Rangers’ first home game of 2018, he didn’t seem ready to play a key role again.
On his Twitter account, he wrote: ‘Can’t remember what it feels like to be injury free. Muscle strains left right and centre #niggles #oldman’
Well, Saturday’s man-of-the-match display makes you wonder what the standard will be like if Kilbride is fully fit!
He added another goal and an assist, as well as helping to keep a clean sheet.
Kilbride filled in a right-back because vice-captain Dan Flack was unavailable.
Considering he has also played on both flanks and up front, Kilbride’s versatility must make Michael Goode’s job much easier.
Kilbride claimed a couple of assists plus a goal during Deeping’s 4-2 victory away to Wellingborough Town.
Eight days later, he sent the Clarets on course for another win.
Kilbride’s looping header went inside the far post 12 minutes into the second half as left-back Tom Smith floated the ball into the box.
Top scorer Scott Coupland – who converted a hat-trick of penalties in the home win over Kirby Muxloe last season – doubled the advantage.
He was given an easy tap-in as Scott Handley failed to hold on to Kilbride’s 35-yard free-kick.
Henry Dunn was denied by an offside flag and he should have done better with a chip over Handley following a long clearance from Richard Stainsby.
But with five minutes left, Dunn cut inside from the left and smashed a right-foot shot into the roof of the net from 25 yards.
It was an extra-special way to finish off the win as the Clarets extended their home record to 14 unbeaten league games.
Yet it could have been so different as Kirby Muxloe had dominated the first half.
Stainsby’s errors gifted two goals to Wellingborough – but was back to his best against Kirby Muxloe on Saturday.
After Aaron Black’s lob had bounced off the bar, Stainsby held onto the rebound from Mark Tinsley.
Black’s drive was tipped away, Dunn sent a volley too high from Kilbride’s cross and Stainsby pushed out Aiden Black’s long-range effort.
The second-half display from Deeping – led by Kilbride and Dunn – was much better to take third spot in the title race.
4-2-3-1: Stainsby 8; Kilbride 8 (sub Barrand 85 mins), Hunnings 7, Hollist 7, Smith 7; Burton-Jones 7, Dunn 8; Coulson 7, Coupland 7, Hamilton 7 (sub Conyard 78 mins); Mooney 6 (sub Simpson 64 mins, 7). Subs not used: Marsden, Bircham.
4-4-2: Handley; Nyarko, Leon Fray, Wilson, Aiden Black; A Love (sub Brown-Wingfield 78 mins), Alcott, Burniston, Lever; Tinsley, Aaron Black. Subs not used: Doy, Andrew, T Love, Squires.
Kilbride (57 mins, 1-0); Coupland (68 mins, 2-0); Dunn (85 mins, 3-0).
Hamilton (foul); Wilson, Fray (dissent).
Jason Kilbride – filled in at right-back but got forward to claim another goal plus an assist. What a valuable member of the squad when he can produce displays like this and change positions.
Rothwell Corinthians (H) – Saturday.