Grays Athletic manager Mark Stimson tipped striker Gary Hooper for the top after seeing the youngster run Southend United ragged at Roots Hall on Tuesday.
The teenage forward bagged a brace and was joined on the score-sheet by Glenn Poole and Bertie Brayley as the Conference leaders secured a 4-1 victory over a strong Shrimpers side in the third round of the Essex Senior Cup.
”Hoops is a real talent and I’m amazed that a bigger club hasn’t come in for him,” said Stimson.
”It’s pleasing because it means we still have him in our squad but he’s a really good player and like we saw with his first goal against Southend he is capable of making things happen.”
But it was not Hooper who delighted Stimson as his young line-up worked their way past a Southend team who had seven players with first-team experience in their side.
”When I first saw their team my initial fear was to keep the score-line respectable, “ he said.
”We didn’t have one player who played at Southport on Saturday in our team and they had a very experienced line-up.
”But games are never won on paper and it was a fantastic performance from us.”
As a result, it was Grays who started strongly and opened the scoring just eight minutes when Hooper volleyed home a stunning 20 yard strike.
Southend – who currently top League One – soon equalised as striker Wayne Gray coolly converted from the penalty spot after Bradley Barnes had brought down James Lawson.
However, ten minutes into the second half, Poole half volleyed home a Jason Leeward cross before Brayley did likewise after Hooper had latched onto a poor back-pass from Spencer Prior.
Hooper then fittingly completed the rout as his intended pass to Poole bounced back off Duncan Jupp to allow him to shoot into an unguarded goal from six yards.
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report