Glasshoughton Welfare joint manager Darren Holmes has heaped praise on stand-in captain Matt Cunliffe.
The experienced left-back has been wearing the armband recently because of stalwart Adam Walsh’s injury problems. Although Cunliffe has been with the Leeds Road club for a few years – bar a very brief stint with Armthorpe Welfare – he has struggled to hold down a regular place until the past 12 months for various reasons.
But he’s now firmly won the position with performances that have oozed quality and Holmes has identified inspirational qualities in his temporary skipper.
“He’s been absolutely fantastic this season,” Holmes told Non League Yorkshire.
“He always plays well, gives 110% and he’s going to have a great season if he stays away form injuries. He’s been outstanding in our last two games against Hull and Worsbrough.
“Me personally, I’ve had him at nearly every club I’ve managed. His performances are consistent, they never drop below a certain level and he’s a great role model for the younger players who can learn off him.”
Before the lockdown, Glasshoughton seemed to have overcome their disastrous start to the Toolstation NCEL Division One season which saw them lose all seven of their opening league fixtures.
The turnaround of two large score-line victories over Dronfield Town and East Hull, along with the 1-1 stalemate at Worsbrough Bridge has propelled them off the basement floor and up to fifth bottom.
Conor Glavin and Wayne Hughes arrived around the time of the revival and star striker Nathan Perks also returned. Perks of course was a big reason why Welfare were promotion contenders last season, but Holmes said the upturn in form was a team effort, not solely down to Perks.
“It is fantastic he is back,” he said.
“He was getting frustrated that he had missed a few over the previous games. It is great to get him going again. He’s a confidence player and strikers need goals. He got 20-odd goals last season and it takes some replacing. Obviously we’re pleased to have him back.
“It wouldn’t be fair to say we weren’t winning because we didn’t have him. We were playing well in spells in the first seven games, but we weren’t putting it together for 90 minutes. We were getting in front and not seeing games out. Yeah goal-scorers win you games, but it is not about one player.”
Perks got four in the 7-0 annihilation of East Hull – the final game before the new lockdown measures.
Holmes added: “It was a good performance and for once we did it for 90 minutes and not for 25 minutes.
“We played some good stuff. I think we have missed chances at vital parts of games this season and that’s let other teams back into the game and they’ve had one or two chances and scored.
“I think that’s what happened at Worsbrough. I think they had one chance in the second half when we could have been out of sight in the first half. But against Hull we converted most of our chances. We are always going to miss a few, but I think we dominated for 90 minutes.”
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