Zak Emmerson might have been one of those gems Albion polished and helped to big things.

That was the plan when he arrived from Oldham Athletic a little more than three years ago.

It did not quite go like that for the young striker.

But, still only 19, he is back in Sussex, enjoying his football – and looking to build on a 27-minute hat-trick.

Emmerson is on loan at Eastbourne Borough from Blackpool and powered them to a 3-2 win at St Albans in Vanarama National League south with a hat-trick.

He is working under his former Albion youth boss Mark Beard and repaid faith and patience as he revelled alongside experienced target man Callum Kealy, who signed for Borough on the eve of the match.

Now the hope will be for Emmerson, who made his first-team Oldham debut when he was 15, to kick on at Borough and re-ignite his career when he returns to the EFL.

Beard said: “Zak had tasted first team experience at 15 and then came to Brighton and I think he thought his progress would be a little bit quicker.

“At Brighton the level is unbelievable and it’s not such a quick rise.

“I’d imagine playing first team football and then going to youth team football and not even getting a sniff of the under-23s, he found it a bit frustrating.

“I think he scored 24 goals in his first year in the under-18s and similar in his second.

“But he wasn’t getting into the 23s because Evan Ferguson came in.

“His family are from up north and he wasn’t enjoying it.

“He went to Blackpool hoping it would kick-start his career but he had an injury last year.

“He has had a bit of a frustrating 18 months but he’s loving it here now.

“The training is good and he is feeling settled, which I’m pleased with it.”

Beard is hopeful the arrival of Kealy, who also had a stint with Albion’s academy and later played for Worthing, can be just what Emmerson needs.

He said: “Zak had played four games for us and hadn’t scored and there were probably a few people questioning me and my decision to bring him in.

“But now I’ve got Callum here and straight away Zak scored a second-half hat-trick.

“I knew he could do it all along. I’ve seen him do it at Brighton.

“He used to do it in training with us day in and day out.

“He just needed one goal - and he scored 25 seconds after coming on at half-time.

“Then he got a hat trick and they were three great goals.

“Zak has come to us only having played four games in six months but I know what he can bring.

“I’ve kept faith with him and I took him out of the firing line on Saturday, just to change formation and go 4-5-1.

“I told him he’d go on at half-time and we would be more attacking in the second half and he was going to run riot.

“I told him he’d love playing with Callum.

“I’m so pleased with Zak for scoring the hat-trick and persevering, with Callum for an unbelievable debut and also for the character of the boys, especially after going 1-0 down after 25 seconds.”

Borough are next in action a week on Saturday when they visit Weymouth.