‘THE SHOP’ OPEN FOR BUSI­NESS!

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Nick Lough

IT’S taken a while, but Lenell John-Lewis, known through­out foot­ball as The Shop, is fi­nally open for busi­ness as an out-and-out striker – and lov­ing ev­ery minute of his Foot­ball League re­turn.

Hav­ing been pushed out on the wing once too of­ten while at Bury, the 26-year-old Lon­doner turned his back on the League three years ago to reignite his ca­reer as a goal-scor­ing cen­tre-for­ward at Grimsby Town.

Af­ter rack­ing up 16 league goals for the Mariners en route to last sea­son’s Con­fer­ence play-off fi­nal, his hopes were dashed af­ter los­ing on penal­ties to Bris­tol Rovers at Wem­b­ley.

Op­por­tu­nity

How­ever, he was handed a golden op­por­tu­nity two weeks later to re­turn to the fourth tier with New­port County.

John-Lewis told The FLP: “I kind of knew, com­ing to the end of the sea­son, that I prob­a­bly wasn’t go­ing to get of­fered a new con­tract at Grimsby.

“When we didn’t get pro­moted it was gutting, but to be given the chance to come back into the Foot­ball League was pleas­ing.

“I’d dropped down to get some more game time and to prove my­self as a main striker, and even­tu­ally to get back into the League. It was a goal achieved.”

The Exiles strug­gled early on and found them­selves at the foot of League Two.

“Play­ing un­der Terry Butcher was en­joy­able for me,” he said. “He brought me into the club and out­lined early doors that I would be the main starter up-front.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing how ev­ery­thing turned out and I can’t put my fin­ger on why it didn’t go well. We went into ev­ery game with con­fi­dence and had good team spirit, con­sid­er­ing where we were.”

With Butcher axed af­ter less than six months at the helm, in came ex-Plymouth and Ch­ester­field man­ager

John Sheri­dan, who has re­vived the team’s for­tunes.

John-Lewis scored his maiden goal for the club in Sheri­dan’s first match in charge – a 1-1 draw against Ex­eter in early Oc­to­ber.

“John has brought hon­esty to the club,” he said. “He’s not afraid to tell play­ers ex­actly how it is and to ac­tu­ally get things like he wants them.

Sim­ple

“Even when he does get it, he never stops, and I ad­mire that in him. He al­ways keeps us on our toes and al­ways lets us know when we make a mis­take in the nicest pos­si­ble way.

“He keeps the game sim­ple and asks us to do the ba­sics right.”

The Shop is clearly en­joy­ing work­ing un­der the new boss.

“Since the new man­ager has come in, my role has changed a bit, but it’s clear what he wants me to do – he wants his strik­ers to be strik­ers, get up the pitch and into the box,” he said.

Be­fore the week­end, John-Lewis had taken his tally to four goals af­ter scor­ing in three of his last four matches.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

TRAD­ING PLACES: John­Lewis, left, with Ac­cring­ton's Bradley Hal­l­i­day, switched to New­port af­ter a spell with Grimsby, inset

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