HEYBRIDGE manager Jody Brown says he is delighted to see striker Reece Grant earn a move to National League South side Braintree Town.
The prolific front man, 22, who scored 26 goals for Swifts last season, agreed a deal with Brad Quinton’s new-look Iron this week.
Grant (pictured above), who joined Heybridge from Evo-Stik League South East outfit Uxbridge last year, revealed he turned down offers from higher division clubs over the summer.
Brown said: “Reece has the main ingredients required to do well – hunger, and a willingness to work hard on his own and be coached.
“His improvement over 12 months with us had been very noticeable. We changed his role from a central striker into a wide player, drifting in and behind off the line.
“I’m delighted to see him get this opportunity and I think given the chance he will make an impact.
“There was an option to loan him back immediately, but I’m not sure that’s in either clubs’ best interests.
“Reece wants to prove himself and get in the Braintree team, while we want to build our club and be consistent.”
But although Brown was pleased to help another player move onto play at a higher level, he admits he was not entirely pleased with how the deal played out.
He explained: “It’s obviously a shame to lose our top goalscorer one game into the season when we’d given Reece every opportunity to move in the summer.
“Braintree are a big club with recent history at the top of non league football, so it’s a great opportunity and one he’s right to take.
“But many things within the whole transfer procedure left me unhappy.
“Braintree suggested they were interested in Reece during the summer, so I’m disappointed they have waited until the Friday night before our league opener to speak to him. It could have unsettled him, and us.
“But credit to Reece, his performance with all that on his mind was a match-winning one.
“He’s a tough character and I’ll miss him. I look forward to seeing how Reece develops, I’m always proud of my players progress, and I’m proud of this club’s continued trend in developing players.”
Brown has also moved quickly to find a replacement for Grant in the shape of the versatile Joe Gardner, who he worked with at Redbridge, Maldon and Concord.
The Swifts boss said: “We have always enjoyed working together wherever it has been and I tried to sign him at Welling but he turned me down to stay with Danny Cowley at Concord.
“We’ve always stayed in touch and he’s a player that can make a huge difference to the culture here.
“He has technical ability, a relentless work rate, plus an understanding of the game which he’s developed under some good coaches.”
Swifts made it two wins from their opening two games of the season on Wednesday with a 5-1 victory at Romford. Heybridge’s goals were scored by Sam Bantick, Luke Callander, two from Juan Luque and one from Harrison Chatting.