JAMES Thomas is one of the Isthmian North’s most underrated players, according to Bowers & Pitsea boss Rob Small.

Thomas came off the bench and got his name on the scoresheet to seal a 3-0 win over AFC Sudbury at the Len Salmon Stadium on Saturday.

And Small is full of praise for Thomas, who has adjusted from featuring heavily at full-back to becoming a dangerous left midfielder.

“James is one of the most underrated players at our club and he is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the league,” said Small.

“He played at left-back last season and he started this season in the back four as well.

“When we lost Correy Davidson earlier in the season, we were looking to bring in a left winger.

“Then Tom Stephen, who had been doing well at left-back for East Thurrock United, became available and I realised that I shouldn’t be looking for a left midfielder because I already had one in James.

“His work ethic and energy levels are fantastic.

“James is one of those players who is brilliant to have in your team but a nightmare to play against.”

Thomas scored his second Isthmian North goal of the campaign in the victory over AFC Sudbury, which saw Bowers remain three points clear at the top of the table.

The versatile winger had only been on the pitch for four minutes, having replaced Brad Warner in the 86th minute, before rounding off the scoring.

And Small was overjoyed to see Thomas make an impact as he wants the fans’ favourite to add more goals to his game.

“I was chuffed that James scored because he played well seven days earlier at Heybridge Swifts and probably didn’t deserve to be on the bench,” added the Bowers chief.

“But the great thing about James is that he didn’t sulk.

“Instead, he came off the bench and scored a goal.

“We need the whole squad buying into what we want to achieve otherwise we won’t be able to meet our goals.

“So when players like James don’t sulk and just get on with the job, that is what you want to see because it shows they are determined to prove me wrong.

“That is what you want as a manager and we need everyone to be chipping in with the goals, not just the strikers.”