CRAIG Hobson’s flourishing strike partnership with Darius Osei has been a key component in Stalybridge Celtic’s rise up the BetVictor Northern Premier League, Premier Division table.
The 31-year-old has lavished praise on former Oldham Athletic player Osei who has scored nine league goals since his arrival in September.
Hobson said: “Darius is a pleasure to play alongside and we have struck up a good understanding.
“Sometimes it takes time to develop a partnership but this one has come quickly.
“Darius is a clever player, knowing when to drop short or go behind a defence. His is a joy to play with and one of the best partnerships I have ever had enjoyment wise as we both get plenty of chances.”
Hobson, who works as a personal trainer in a gym in Worsley, is also delighted not to be operating up front alone.
He continued: “For much of my career I have operated up top on my own as a lone striker.
“It is nice to have support and somebody to share the workload and help chip away at opponents.”
Hobson added he is enjoying his football more than he has ever done in his career.
He puts that down to the environment manager Simon Haworth has created and the trust he has put in his small, tight-knit squad.
Hobson added Haworth, a former Premier League and international striker, has also helped improve his game.
He said: “The gaffer was a top striker who played at the highest level in the Premier League and for his country (Wales).
“He is always giving me pointers and we work at finishing in training.
“It is also good to be able to call upon such a person for advice as you are always learning and he is a great person to learn off as he was a similar type of player to me.”
Hobson is delighted with Celtic’s seven match unbeaten run which has taken them to the fringe of the play-offs – they were in the top five but slipped out after the goalless draw at second-placed Lancaster City on Saturday, December 14.
He believes Celtic can maintain a challenge for promotion, saying: “We have a great set of lads which has gelled really well.
“Everyone has an understanding of everybody else’s job and also having a settled side has helped.”
Hobson is in his second spell with Celtic having previously played for them between 2009 and 2012. He said it was though he had never been away.
“When I returned everything was familiar. Though the manager and players were different, there were a lot of the same faces off the pitch and great to catch up with them again,” Hobson concluded.
Since leaving the first time he has played, mainly at a higher level, for Stockport County, Lincoln City, Guiseley, Chester FC, Altrincham, Aberystwyth, Ashton United and Alfreton Town.