Gray upbeat despite Ebbsfleet loss

Luke Allen in action against Ebbsfleet United. Picture: Leigh Page

Luke Allen in action against Ebbsfleet United. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

“We will get better, I’m sure of it,” was how St Albans City joint manager James Gray ended his post-match interview following a 2-0 loss to Ebbsfleet United at Clarence Park.

The Saints matched the favourites for the National League South title in the first half, and looked better in spells, but it came to naught. Danny Kedwell converted a 50th minute penalty to put Fleet ahead and they were comfortable from then on as City ran out of ideas, firing high balls up to Simon Thomas rather than building through the midfield.

A goal-mouth scramble led to a dreadful own goal to end the contest but, in truth, the Saints didn’t look like getting back into the game before Ebbsfleet’s second.

Gray kicked two balls in anger into hoardings after the own goal but was surprisingly upbeat when talking to the press after the final whistle.

“Nothing is a concern at this point – it could be to the fans, the chairman or the owners but I’m not concerned,” he said.

“I’ve got to stay positive even though it’s been a tough start. I can’t be too downbeat. We need to regroup, work hard and go again on Tuesday.

“I’ve seen enough positives. We need time to gel and the lack of goals is there for all to see but it’s not concerning me. I know the players we’ve got and once we get it right we’ll score goals.

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“Individually we need to sharpen up and then, collectively, the goals will come. We’ve got the leading goalscorer from the league two seasons ago in Louie Theophanous. He’s already got one and with Simon Thomas and Billy Medlock, we’ll get goals.”

The second goal was inexcusable, with Gray admitting he was ‘fuming’ after it hit the net, but the manager commended the defence of Ian Gayle, back at the club on loan, Ben Martin, James Comley, at right back, and Lee Chappell.

Once again, it was City’s play in the final third that let them down. Gray said too often his players picked the wrong option, leading to goal-scoring chances going by the wayside.

Still, the boss was upbeat.

“We matched them. Everyone knows about their financial state and their resources,” he said.

“There’s no two ways about it, we were competitive and we haven’t got hammered. The top sides, with a little bit of quality, might be too far for us this season but we’re trying to bridge that gap and I do see positives.”

Gray is hoping the positives will finally lead to a win when the Saints travel to Eastbourne Borough on Tuesday.