WEYMOUTH’S hat-trick hero Harry Baker has described his FA Cup first qualifying round treble against Odd Down as “the best hat-trick I’ve ever scored”.
Baker, 23, took the match ball with a second-half blitz as Weymouth overcame the Down 5-0 in Somerset to earn a home tie against National League South side Chippenham Town in the second qualifying round.
Speaking to Echosport about his achievement, Baker was “over the moon” to register an FA Cup hat-trick and his first senior goal for the Terras.
He said: “I think it’s the best hat-trick I’ve ever scored. It was important and I haven’t long signed for Weymouth.
“It was a bit of a statement. I haven’t been in the starting XI in the league but I got the nod in the FA Cup and I was over the moon with the hat-trick.
“I had two last year for Gillingham and two the year before but never in the FA Cup. I haven’t scored previously for Weymouth, so when three came along at once I was pretty chuffed.”
Before the game, manager Mark Molesley stressed the importance of a good attitude for the encounter, and Baker felt it was “spot on” from the minute the players warmed up.
He said: “The boss said before the game to make sure our attitude was right. We were really professional and the attitude was spot on from the warm-up and it carried on to the pitch.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game but we went into a different gear in the second half. Our fitness really shone out and we took them apart in the second half.
“For the first 40 minutes they got in our faces and made it difficult. They made some chances so we had to be on our guard.”
Since his move from Gillingham in the summer, Baker revealed he has “settled in really well” and is ready to “work hard” to make the most of future opportunities.
“I’ve settled in really well. When the manager calls me up I just have to work hard and show him what I can do.
“I’ve noticed the step up. The players are bigger, stronger and fitter and that’s what I’ve got to work on in training.
“The step up is kind of what I expected really. I played for Frome before so I had a little taste of what it was like,” he said.
Like many other players at the Terras this season, Baker is enjoying Molesley’s methods in training.
“I’ve been really impressed in the way he goes about it. It’s very professional. We have analysts and stats and it’s really good.
“It’s obviously working well because we have had a decent start to the season. It’s relaxed when we get on the pitch and it’s been a good start so long may it continue,” he said.
With strikers Brandon Goodship, Josh Wakefield and Ben Thomson in the side, Baker has struggled for a starting berth this season but he feels his game is improving simply by training with them.
“The three strikers have all started really well. It’s a new level for me and a different role because last season I started most of the games for Gillingham. I need to adapt and take the chance when it comes.
“I’ve learned a lot from the way Brandon is finishing in training, it’s second to none. I think mine’s come on a little bit since watching him. I try to take up anything to make me a better player,” he said.
And Baker also believes scoring in midweek for Weymouth Reserves helped give him a confidence boost for the Odd Down tie.
He said: “I had a phone call from the manager because I was only coming on for half an hour. Moles didn’t want me to waste my fitness. I got a header and it gave me the confidence for Saturday.”