Brady Stone is hoping Alex Theobald will go on to score the goals that will keep Ely City up after the striker rejected the chance to join neighbours Soham Town Rangers.
The 19-year-old highlighted his importance to the Robins on Saturday by scoring a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Stanway Rovers — his 10th goal in 16 appearances.
Such form had convinced joint- Soham bosses Robbie Nightingale and Dave Theobald that the young frontman could cut it a level higher in the Ryman League Division One North, but following discussions, Ely have held on to their marksman.
And with his team currently in the bottom three, Stone is delighted to have Theobald to call upon as Ely battle to preserve their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division status.
“We are so pleased to know Alex will be with us until at least the end of the season,” said the boss.
“I will never stop a young lad trying to prove himself at a higher level, but after having a good chat with Soham he had decided it is not the right time for him.
“He is a vital player for us — 10 goals in 16 tells its own story.
“If he can stay injury-free and keep up that form, it will go a long way to help keeping us in the division.”
Theobald arrived at the Unwin Ground from Cambridgeshire County League side Fordham in 2015 and made an immediate impression, scoring 22 goals in all competitions during’s Ely promotion campaign from the First Division.
While the in-form attacker has opted against making the move up the football pyramid on this occasion, Stone is confident he has the potential to make a big impact when the time is right.
“We have told Alex that if he wants to move up in the summer then we will help him find the right club,” added the Ely boss.
“I have got no doubt that he will be a threat a level higher, maybe even two divisions.
“The good thing about Alex is he is not just about goals — he never lets the defenders rest and that sets the tone for the rest of the team.
“He settled in well after joining from Fordham and has got better and better. There is much more to come as well.”
Theobald is the second striker to have turned down a move to Soham in recent weeks, following Robbie Priddle’s preference to remain with Thetford Town.