COUNTDOWN TO KICK-OFF: Gray keen to end opening day hoodoo

PUBLISHED: 11:00 07 August 2015

Jack Green in action against Gosport Borough. Picture: Leigh Page

Jack Green in action against Gosport Borough. Picture: Leigh Page

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James Gray is keen to end his opening day hoodoo when St Albans City travel to Gosport Borough on Saturday.

Lee Chappell opening the scoring with a free-kick from 25 yards. Picture: Leigh PageLee Chappell opening the scoring with a free-kick from 25 yards. Picture: Leigh Page

Since taking over in 2012, joint managers Gray and Graham Golds haven’t won their first league game. In the 2013/14 season, they lost at Poole Town and a year later they were beaten by Hayes and Yeading at Clarence Park.

For a management team that has achieved promotion, the first round of the FA Cup, the second round of the FA Trophy and a manager of the month award in two years, they are keen to scratch ‘win on opening day’ off their list.

“Since we’ve been in charge we’ve had two first games of the season and lost them both. We’d like to put that right,” said Gray.

“Pre-season is difficult to gauge but I’m sure we’ll be firing on all cylinders on Saturday. It’s up to me and Graham to get the personnel and the squad right.”

Gosport were one of the team’s St Albans swept last season, beating them 2-1 home and away. In the home tie, on January 4, Lee Chappell and Omar Beckles were on the scoresheet but the game will be remembered because Jack Green introduced himself to the City faithful with a superb display that culminated in him having two Gosport players red carded.

Goals from Simon Thomas and loanee Jo N’Gussan handed the Saints victory in the away fixture and simultaneously ended Gosport’s play-off challenge. That puts a target on their back this weekend, according to the boss.

“We can go down there confident knowing that we got a good result [last season]. They will be gunning for us – the manager will be reiterating that to his players,” said Gray.

“It’s important to get something. Even if we can’t get a winning start then we have to come away with something for our efforts.”

The good news for the Saints is they head into opening day with just one injury – Danny Green will miss the game with a broken nose. Joe Welch should be back after taking a knee to the face in Tuesday’s Herts Charity Cup win, although newly re-signed Tom Coulton is waiting in the wings if he can’t.


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