NOT many clubs could climb into a new league and chalk up a perfect three wins out of three without the services of their two first-choice strikers.

But VT FC, the early-season pace makers in the Southern 1 South & West, are a shining example of how teamwork can offset even the most serious of individual losses.

Between them Paul Sales and Warren Hunt plundered 67 league/league cup goals last term to spearhead the Boatmen’s rise from the Sydenhams Wessex ranks.

But with Sales injured and Hunt sus pended, manager Dave Diaper has improvised by pushing midfielder and inspirational skipper Kevin Gibbens up front to partner Mike Spinney, who has just returned to Portsmouth Road after a spell playing parks football.

Both players were on the score sheet on Saturday as table-topping VT made it nine points out of nine with a 3-1 home victory over Bishops Cleeve.

And, as Spinney, 29, revealed, it’s not the first time that he and ex-Saint Gibbens have made frontline mischief together.

“Me, Gibbo and Rourkesy (goalkeep er Scott O’Rourke) all grew up in Millbrook together,” he said. “I got Scotty here first and then me and Rourkesy got Gibbo here.

“In our first season as a Wessex side I finished something like the fourth top scorer in the league and it was me and Kev playing up front together that year.”

With the prolific Hunt back avail able for tomorrow night’s trip to Uxbridge, Diaper has certainly been given food for thought by his Millbrook boys.

Does he bring back Hunt, who led the Wessex statistics with 39 goals last term and restore Gibbens to midfield?

Or does he keep faith with the side that saw off a big, strong Bishops Cleeve outfit on Saturday and leave his mas ter marksman on the bench?

“Diaps has said that if we’re playing well, we’ll keep our shirts and it’s up to us to keep the others out of the team,”

said Spinney.

“I do know though that Warren and Paul will be back and it’s something I’ll have to deal with.

"Football’s a team game and, to be fair, it’s been nice to learn off people like Salesy and some of the others.

“We’re sticking together well as a team. There’s no bitching and it feels good in the changing room.”

Reflecting on the nine-point start, boss Diaper said: “These lads have done more than I could have dreamed of. You can see the enthusiasm they’ve got playing new teams. Promotion has given us a new lease of life.

“We’ve got a slight advantage at the moment because the other teams don’t know who we are.

“But it’s early days yet. If we were in this position with three games left, I might get excited.

“But all we’ve done is win three games. We’re not getting carried away.”