He might not like the tag but Graysâ€™ teenage star, Gary Hooper is fast earning himself the reputation of a supersub after coming off theâ€™ bench to net his second winning goal in as many weeks.
Hooper followed up last weekâ€™s dramatic winner at Exeter with an equally important strike to see off promotion-rivals Stevenage after a blood and thunder encounter at Broadhall Way.
The 17-year-old was the quickest to react- when Stuart Thurgoodâ€™s 83rd minute penalty won by another substitute, Glenn Poole, was parried away by keeper, Alan Julian and he crashed the ball into the roof of the net as the Borough defenders looked helplessly on.
The goal ensured Grays became the first side to win at Stevenage this season and Hooper hopes that it will force boss, Mark Stimson, into picking him from the start in tonightâ€™s FA Cup game at Mansfield.
â€śI donâ€™t want to be on the bench, I want to be starting gamesâ€ť, he said afterwards. â€śIâ€™ve scored nine goals this season now and if I keep coming on and scoring like I have done then the manager canâ€™t keep ignoring me.â€ť
The ex-Tottenham trainee says he has been to see Stimson about the situation and is confident heâ€™llâ€™ get a run in the side
â€śIâ€™ve spoken to him about it and heâ€™s told me to keep my head up and keep doing what Iâ€™m doing and Iâ€™ll get a chance and hopefully that will be on Friday nightâ€ť he added.
Stimson said of his teenage prodigy â€śHe knows where the net is and sooner than later he will be starting more games but he needs to bide his time and keep doing what he is doing.â€ť
On the victory the Blues boss added: â€śI would have been pleased with a point to be honest but to come away with three is a fantastic achievement for the boys.
â€śIt was a tough, tough game and the boys had to dig in against a very good side but once again they have given 110 per cent and come through it.â€ť
Although Hooper stole the show, Bluesâ€™ win owed as much to team ethic as individual performers with every man on the pitch displaying the kind of commitment which has sent them to the top of the table.
For as much as the likes of Hooper. Jamie Slabber and Dennis Oli have grabbed the headlines this season; Graysâ€™ remarkable form is grounded in a formidable team spirit and an all-for-one attitude that can be found in all successful sides.
And no one epitomises that spirit more than their skipper Thurgood who was absolutely immense at Stevenage covering every blade of grass to snuff out Borough attacks and start his sidesâ€™ forays forward.
Grays handed a debut to recent recruit, Nathan Koo-Boothe, who joined on a monthâ€™s loan from MK Dons just two days previously and replaced the suspended Jamie Stuart at the heart of the Blues defence.
The giant 20-year-old didnâ€™t make the most auspicious of starts though with his early error allowing Anthony Elding a clear run at goal but the highly rated striker dragged his shot horribly wide with just Ashley Bayes to beat.
Just-before that, a square up between Thurgood and ex-Canvey Island midfielder Ollie Berquez; set the tone for a niggly half that lacked an abundance of chances.
Elding went closest for Borough when George Boydâ€™s cross picked him out all alone in the box but he failed miserably to hit the target.
While Graysâ€™ best chance was carved out by Aaron McLean who beat two men on the edge of the box and fizzed in a low drive which skidded just past the post.
Boyd kick-started the second half into life when his powerful drive was well saved by Bayes just 10 seconds after the re-start and a misplaced pass by Lee Matthews almost proved costly not long after but Jon Nurseâ€™s drive hit the side netting.
Michael Kightly then missed a glorious chance for the visitors when he ghosted in at the back post to meet Andy Seabrookâ€™s cross, but e couldnâ€™t control his volley which sailed high over the bar.
At the other end Darryn Stamp headed an Elding cross agonisingly wide and Boyd burst through the Blues backline for a second time and fired a fizzing half-volley inches over the bar.
Matthews then missed a golden chance for Grays when he met Pooleâ€™s free kick at the back post but couldnâ€™t control his header from no more than six yards out.
That miss looked to have proved costly when a moment of magic from Boydâ€” one of the hottest properties in non-league football â€” had the Stevenage fans up on their feet screaming goal.
The winger collected a David Perpetuini pass, sold Matthews a wonderful dummy and let rip with a thunderous shot that Bayes had given up on until it crashed against his bar, and bounced back into play.
Minutes later Grays broke at the other end and Slabber released Poole in the area who jinked past Rob Quinn only to be tripped by the Borough stopper leaving referee Steve Creighton with no option but to award the penalty.
Hooper eventually bundled in the spot kick but that wasnâ€™t the end of the drama as Mr Creighton was called into action again when Dino Maamria bundled Sambrook over some advertising boards and was subsequently sent off to add to Stevenageâ€™s woes.
Report by Ryan Goad
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report.