Football: Hay making most of a new start

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As the stream of overseas talent flowing into this country shows no sign of abating, we are led to believe that an inflated domestic transfer market is to blame, forcing managers to recruit abroad as the only way to secure value for money.

The days of the homegrown bargain buy are clearly not gone for good, however.

Take, for example, Swindon's pounds 300,000 investment in the Celtic striker Chris Hay or - even better - Mansfield Town's purchase of the ex-Coventry striker Iyseden Christie.

Steve Parkin, the Mansfield manager, agreed an appearance-related fee of just pounds 15,000 for the strapping 19-year-old forward, who made one Premiership appearance for the Highfield Road club.

In the less pressurised environment of the Nationwide League Third Division, the youngster has come into his own, the benefits of top-flight tuition enabling him to find the net with a frequency that has delighted Field Mill fans. His ninth of the season on Saturday launched Mansfield towards a 3-2 win over Cambridge.

Hay, meanwhile, continues to power Swindon towards their dream of a return to the Premiership. Two goals in the opening 15 minutes against Bury on Saturday gave the 23-year-old five in two matches and nine for the season as Steve McMahon's side moved into second place in the First Division.

Chris - the nephew of former Scottish international David Hay - was hugely disappointed to be discarded by the Glasgow giants, ironically now short of a quality striker, but is finding pleasant consolation at the County Ground, where manager McMahon has compared his finishing with that of his former Liverpool colleague Ian Rush.

"I wish I had been given the chance to prove myself at Celtic with a decent run in the team but my face did not seem to fit," Hay said. "But things are going well here and the goals have come more easily than I expected."