FORMER boss Steve Claridge was the in Weymouth’s 3-1 win over Hayes yesterday, according to Steve Johnson.

Claridge, sacked by the club in November, claimed in a national newspaper at the weekend that he left a better set of players than those currently at the Wessex Stadium.

Johnson, who has shipped out nine of the ex-player-manager’s signings since his appointment to the post, said the Brentford striker’s comments spurred his players on to victory.

The Terras climbed to seventh in the Conference South table thanks to a double from striker Kirk Jackson and substitute Danny Byrne’s late free kick.

Johnson told Echosport: “I’d like to thank Steve Claridge for what he said in the Non-League newspapar on Sunday.

“He really helped me today by claiming the players I’ve got rid of are better than those here now.

“The boys needed no more inspiration an reading what he said about how they are not those who have gone.

“I started seven players who I have signed since coming to the club and I told each of them before the game what Claridge said, then walked out and left them to it.

“It was the shortest team talk I have ever held because nothing more needed to be said.

“And the great thing is it obviously did the trick because we played with passion and took the lead within a minute.

“I know how good my players are and the quality I’ve got and today showed what they can do.

“The great thing about the win was we defended well late on when Hayes got back in it.

“They pushed forward looking for an equaliser but we held firm and got a third.

“Two months ago we would have buckled under that pressure, so full credit to the lads because they worked really hard.”

Johnson hailed two-goal hero Jackson who notched his seventh strike in ten games since switching from Hornchurch.

He said: “If Jacko is not the best forward in the league then I don’t know who is.

He is brave, strong and showed today exactly why I signed him.

“Both his goals were well taken and I’ve no doubts he will be a big, big player for this club in the years to come.

“But apart from Jacko, there were a lot of other plus points as well.

“I changed the team around a bit from the one against Dorchester on New Year’s Day to freshen things up and it paid off.

“Kieren Keene impressed me in midfield on his full debut and was full of energy which is good to see.

“Danny Byrne’s free kick at the end showed again what quality he possesses and Bernardo Cariata is getting there in terms of fitness.

“All in all, I’m feeling a lot more positive about things than I was this time last week and with a winnable game c coming up on Saturday at Carshalton, things look to be back on track.”

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