The Grecians have made a string of key signings which have contributed to a positive start to their League Two campaign.
In Nicky Law they have an experienced and creative player, in Jonathan Forte they have a striker who knows where the back of the net is, and they’ve also brought in Aaron Martin who has begun the season in inspired form in the centre of defence.
That’s without mentioning the quality of Lee Martin, Dara O’Shea, Tristan Abrahams, Chiedozie Ogbene and Jimmy Oates, all who add depth, steel and something different to Matt Taylor’s side.
These players have helped bring some excitement to St James Park so far, but there’s one player who was already in place and impressing in the City squad when Matt was handed the reins. A player who is thriving in the new setup.
In a slightly more advanced position, Hiram Boateng has been instrumental in Matt’s side so far this season. With his surging runs, excellent trickery and the ability to put the ball on a plate for the strikers, Hiram is enjoying his football in his second season with the Grecians.
But that’s not without a bedding in period here in Devon, and the midfielder admits he has relished adapting to new surroundings with the Grecians.
“I’m enjoying it, said Hiram. “Initially I was welcomed into the club with open arms and it’s been a good journey so far here.
“Last season, the run we went on of winning games and the play-offs were a good moment for me, personally. Getting to the final, obviously it wasn’t the way we wanted it to end, but it’s all a learning curve and experience.”
Hiram made the move to Devon following his departure from Premier League side Crystal Palace towards the beginning of last season. He has had to adapt to playing regularly in the Football League and is enjoying his time in professional football. The midfielder also thinks that more players who belong to Premier League sides should test themselves in the EFL as a valuable learning experience, even for a loan stint.
“I think a lot of young players are missing out on the chance to play regular football. I’ve been allowed to come here and do that and play with freedom. Everyone’s journey is different, some players get into their first team early doors in the Premier League or Championship, and fair play to them, but some have to go out and learn their craft at other clubs. Whatever way you do it, as long as you keep putting in the work, and know that there is an end goal then that’s a good thing.”
There’s no doubt that Hiram has continued to develop his game, and still at the tender age of 22, he is a player that can only get better as he learns from the likes of Matt, Eric Kinder and Dan Green.
He continued: “I have more confidence in myself to know what I can offer to the team in terms of creating goals, and I think I’ve been pushed on to do that. Being allowed to play with freedom has helped me a lot and pushed me in the right direction.
Hiram in action against Notts County
“Out here we have a good set of staff so I’m learning every day in training from them and my teammates. There’s definitely room for development and hopefully I can continue that.
“It’s been an easy transition working with Matt. Of course, we worked with him last season and a lot of things have stayed the same which has made the transition so smooth. All the lads have respect for him as a manger, and we had it for him as a coach as well.
“We have a good balance with what we work on in terms of attacking and defending. He keeps the squad happy and knows the right things to do to keep this team happy.
“I’ve been playing in a slightly different role, so it’s been a different game altogether this season. I don’t want to say what I need to do but I know what I have to do to try and create that time and space for myself.”
When sat down with Hiram it’s difficult not to mention the play-off semi-final last season against Lincoln City where the midfielder pulled off a stunning solo move to help the Grecians to Wembley.
After receiving the ball in his own half, the midfielder dribbled past a number of players to the edge of the Lincoln box before curling an exquisite effort with his left foot off the post and into the net in front of the television cameras.
Hiram netted a wonderful goal against Lincoln City in the play-off semi-final
Though the goal was a highlight for the former Palace man, Hiram is focused very much on moving forward under Matt’s stewardship this season as they hope to ensure City are competing in League One in the 2019/20 campaign.
“It was a good achievement for myself (scoring the goal), but I was more excited about simply getting to the final. It’s something that I put behind me and move forward with this season and we’re focussed on getting promoted this year.
But how does Hiram rate City’s chances this season? It’s fair to say that the midfielder has been left impressed by the Grecians’ squad and is confident that the club is moving in the right direction.
“It’s easy to be honest because I know that when I’m putting deliveries in someone is going to be on the end of it. It definitely makes my job easier with those guys (the likes of Jayden Stockley, Nicky Law and Jonathan Forte) moving in the box.
Hiram tries to break away at Craven Cottage against Fulham
“We have to keep building every game and see what we can do week on week. Every game is different, and we go in with a different preparation for each game. If we take it game by game, then we’ll be alright. There’s a lot of good teams in the league, a lot that want to play football. It’s been an eye opener because this season we’ve seen teams come and try and play. It has been different, but it’s competitive as always.
It’s evident that if the Grecians are to go on and be successful then Hiram is likely to play a key role in helping City to do so. What’s also clear is that the Grecians have a player who is eager to develop and learn with the right attitude, and by working under the current regime, there looks to be no reason as to why he cannot help the club to every success.
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, March 2 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.