Dean Saunders hailed the influence of midfielder Lee Fowler on his full debut in Crawley Town’s emphatic win over Barnsley on Saturday.
Saunders handed the 31-year-old his first start as Jimmy Smith dropped to the bench and the on loan Conference player pulled the strings for the home side in the second half as they cruised to a 5-1 victory.
The Reds boss saluted an all-round team performance from his side as they bounced back from a drubbing of their own against Doncaster Rovers last Tuesday.
But although Saunders recognised Izale McLeod will get the headlines for his hat-trick, he was quick to single out Fowler for praise.
He said: “Lee Fowler has made us play, hasn’t he? He made us play and made the others play. He has linked the play up with Anthony (Wordsworth) and made us play wide.
“Everything he does is class, he’s just got to get fit. He is obviously not fit, but he’s still the best player on the pitch for me today (Saturday).
“Nobody is safe when you lose 5-0, but I tried something different in the middle of the pitch. I thought all three of them played well, Marvin (Elliott), Anthony (Wordsworth) and Lee (Fowler).
“He makes the first pass which gets them all playing which is maybe what we have been missing.
“The whole thing just looked better. Saying that, I left Jimmy Smith out and he’s come on and showed a great attitude and they are all in it together.
“We just need to get the injured players fit now, we can’t really afford to (lose anyone) as you can see, we get a couple of injuries and we are in trouble.
“We haven’t got a big squad, but they have battled and all credit to the lads they have shown what they are made of.”