Grays Athletic Preview

Whilst we suffered the last minute defeat away at Enfield Town last Saturday, we are still unbeaten at home since before Christmas and hope to continue that run when Grays Athletic come to town on Saturday.  Based on our results against The Blues in the last few seasons we should be in for some goals as well, with an average of 4 per game scored between the two sides.

Unfortunately, it was the Rooks who were on the receiving end of those four goals back in October for Darren’s first game in charge of the team, with Jordan Wilson’s red card adding to a miserable trip to Essex.  Last season we managed to do the double over them, winning 3-2 at The Pan and the 3-1 in the reverse fixture.

P 5 W 2 D 0 L 3 GS 8 GA 12

Grays Atheltic started the season with a bang, topping the league for most of September after seven wins and two draws from their opening nine games. The goals and performances of strikers Nathan Ferguson and Dumebi Dumaka didn’t go unnoticed and Ferguson was poached by Burton Albion just before Christmas, whilst Dumaka is still around after trials with Cambridge United among others before Christmas, having scored 18 goals so far this season.  They drew 1-1 at home to Tonbridge Angels on Wednesday night with their goal being scored by Jake Hutchings. That draw was their fourth in their last six games, with one win and a draw seeing them sit in 9th place in the table, seven points outside the play-off spots.

Their away record is relatively good, recording six victories and five draws away from Mill Field, scoring an average of just under 2 goals per game and conceding 1.5.  Our recent home form of three wins and a draw from our last four games is certainly encouraging, especially if we can put in a Dulwich Hamlet-esque performance.

Darren is likely to keep the same squad as last Saturday with the only potential change being Leon Redwood returning from illness.  We caught up with him yesterday about his thoughts for the game:-

“It’s been ten days of mixed emotions since we were last here at home. The game against Dulwich was without doubt our best performance since I’ve been at the club. I was pleased with the players’ attitude and determination, but most of all with the way we played football. Dulwich are close to the top of the league and renowned for playing good football, yet there were spells in that match when they couldn’t get near the ball because we dominated possession.

It’s always nice when the opposition manager rings you the next day to say how well you’ve played, and I think that’s a sign of the progress we’ve made over the past few months. You guys also deserve a lot of credit for that scoreline, because the atmosphere here against Dulwich was sensational, and the players fed off it. Please keep getting behind them because it makes a massive difference.

Last week at Enfield was a bit of a bump back to Earth after a six-week unbeaten run in 2016. We were poor in the first half and I let the players have it in the dressing room at half-time, but to be fair, they responded and we were much better in the second period. Of course, we thought we’d earned a point when Jonté scored that late penalty, but we switched off for a minute and that cost us the game.

We’ve got to remember we’re building a young side here. The average age of the team at Dulwich and Enfield was 22, and we had a 16-year-old (Charlie Coppola) coming off the bench against Dulwich and another (Leon Dramis) on the bench at Enfield. That’s fantastic for the future of this club, but young players will make mistakes and I’m the type of manager that wants players to express themselves. If we make mistakes, it’s about how we respond to them, and that starts this afternoon against Grays.”

Kick off is 3pm on Saturday.



Author: stuartnoel

Nearly prize winning author of Passport to Football, Budget Airline Football and European Football - A Fans Guide.