HAMPTON & Richmond boss Mel Gwinnett is not at all surprised by Kevin Maher’s success at Southend United.

Gwinnett and Maher worked together at Bristol Rovers before both heading elsewhere for management roles.

And Gwinnett - who brings Hampton & Richmond to Roots Hall in the FA Trophy this weekend - has been incredibly impressed by what Maher has achieved in incredibly difficult circumstances.

“Being brutally honest, with what Kevin has had to contend with at Southend the reality for me is he’s showing what a very good man manager he is,” said Gwinnett.

“It’s not just the football side of things.

“To keep the players performing the way they are with all the turmoil there has been at the club you have to give him and his massive, massive credit.

“I admire everything he’s done and he deserves a go higher up the leagues at some point.”

But Gwinnett always knew Maher had what it would take to do well.

“You talk managers and you talk coaches but Kevin can manage and do it all,” said Gwinnett.

“He can select players, identify players, motivate players and manage them too.

“He can manage the situation and he was always someone I thought would be very successful in management if he ever chose to go down that route.”

Maher has helped the Shrimpers to perform to a high level so far this season.

But Gwinnett is relishing this weekend’s FA Trophy clash at Roots Hall.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Gwinnett.

“It’s a great game for the club and I know the players are very excited about it too.

“Every single one of them wants to play even though some of them need a rest!

“It will be a great day for the fans and for all of us really.”

Hampton & Richmond have also done well this season and currently sit third in National League South, much to the delight of Gwinnett.

“It’s going well,” said Gwinnett .

“We’ve picked up a lot of injuries in the last week to 10 days.

“We’re a bit depleted but Kevin and Southend know all about that and I think we’re both in the same boat for Saturday.

“We’ve picked up six injuries since Tuesday so we’re depleted but the season is going well and long may that continue.”

And Gwinnett is keen to take the good league form into the FA Trophy.

“It's really important to us for many reasons,” said Gwinnett .

“It’s a barometer for us and we’re up against a team in a higher league.

“Without the points deduction Southend would be in the play-offs and I know they’re a good side.

“I was at Barnet last season when Kevin bought the team to us and absolutely played Barnet off the park.

“I know what a good coach Kevin is and it will be a good chance for us to look at ourselves, our players and our club on and off the pitch.

“It will be a really good occasion and the next game is always the important one.”