WEALDSTONE manager Gordon Bartlett will come face-to-face with Rob Haworth on Saturday for the first time since the striker snubbed his club in favour of a lucrative move to Dartford.
The former Fulham striker was all set to join the Grosvenor Vale outfit until an 11th hour U-turn saw him opt for the Kent side, who offered him a deal Stones had no chance of matching. The 32-year-old scored his first goal for the club in Monday's 2-1 win at Harlow and now has Wealdstone in his sights.
However, despite the striker's late change of heart initially leaving a sour taste in Bartlett's mouth, the Stones boss insists he has no problems with his one-time target.
"He was away and text me from someone else's phone, but when he got back he phoned and was full of apologies," said Bartlett. "He felt bad that he had let us down but the offer they (Dartford) made him was unbelievable - it was three times the amount we could offer him.
"But there are no problems between us at all. I text him the other day and I'm sure there will be a bit of banter, particularly if we win!
"I'm sure he feels a little bit embarrassed about it," added the manager. "But you never know what is around the corner. One day we might end up working together. I don't want to burn bridges, I want to build them."
Bartlett's side drew 1-1 with Boreham Wood on Monday. Ryan Ashe fired them in front before Danny Barber levelled minutes later. The visitors were reduced to 10 men shortly before the break when Greg Morgan picked up a second yellow card but Stones could only find the woodwork twice in the second half.
However, Bartlett is confident a Ryman Premier win is just around the corner and has urged fans not to take too much notice of the table at such an early stage of the season.
"We've got a good squad here and are looking nice and solid," enthused the Stones boss.
"We've hit the bar no less than five times in our last two games and those are the small margins you have to deal with in football.
"While we haven't yet got the results we've expected I believe in these boys. It will come. Look at Hendon. They were 12 points clear at Christmas last year but didn't go up. That is the type of league we are in."
Bartlett admits turning over Dartford on their own patch on Saturday is a hard ask but hopes his players with thrive on the atmosphere generated by the 1,500 fervent home support.
"Dartford have come up and have a lot of money. They are very well supported and it will be a good test for us."
In the meantime, Bartlett's search for new faces is ongoing but he won't be panic buying, having turned down three players this week in positions the Stones are well stocked in.
"Maybe one piece of the jigsaw is missing at the moment," he said. "Whether that is down to me striking the right formula or getting someone in if they become available, we will wait and see."