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26.11.2005 @ 15:00 Broadhall Way Crowd: 2753
Stevenage Borough 0 - 1 Grays Athletic
Referee: S Creighton Conference National-Match

None Gary Hooper (84)
Starting Line-ups
Alan Julian
Michael Warner
Barry Laker
Justin Gregory
Robert Quinn
Dannie Bulman
George Boyd
John Nurse
Ollie Berquez
Darryn Stamp
Anthony Elding
Ashley Bayes
Nathan Koo-Boothe
Andy Sambrook
John Nutter
Lee Matthews
John Martin
Michael Kightly
Stuart Thurgood
Dennis Oli
Jamie Slabber
Aaron McLean
Shane Gore
Simon Weatherstone
Dino Maarmria
David Perpetuini
Michael Brough
Nicky Eyre
Cameron Mawer
Ade Olayinka
Glenn Poole
Gary Hooper
Dino Maarmria -> Ollie Berquez (63)
David Perpetuini -> Justin Gregory (69)
Michael Brough -> Anthony Elding (78)
Gary Hooper -> Michael Kightly (64)
Glenn Poole -> Aaron McLean (72)
Yellow cards
Ollie Berquez (7)
Robert Quinn (28)
Barry Laker (50)
Stuart Thurgood (7)
Aaron McLean (66)
Red cards
Dino Maarmria (85) None
Match report |
He might not like the tag but Grays’ teenage star, Gary Hooper is fast earning himself the reputation of a supersub after coming off the’ bench to net his second winning goal in as many weeks.

Hooper followed up last week’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 Thurgood’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 tonight’s FA Cup game at Mansfield.

“I don’t want to be on the bench, I want to be starting games”, he said afterwards. “I’ve scored nine goals this season now and if I keep coming on and scoring like I have done then the manager can’t keep ignoring me.”

The ex-Tottenham trainee says he has been to see Stimson about the situation and is confident he’ll’ get a run in the side

“I’ve spoken to him about it and he’s told me to keep my head up and keep doing what I’m doing and I’ll get a chance and hopefully that will be on Friday night” he added.

Stimson said of his teenage prodigy “He 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.”

On the victory the Blues boss added: “I would have been pleased with a point to be honest but to come away with three is a fantastic achievement for the boys.

“It 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.”

Although Hooper stole the show, Blues’ 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; Grays’ 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 sides’ forays forward.

Grays handed a debut to recent recruit, Nathan Koo-Boothe, who joined on a month’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 didn’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 Boyd’s cross picked him out all alone in the box but he failed miserably to hit the target.

While Grays’ 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 Nurse’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 Seabrook’s cross, but e couldn’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 Poole’s free kick at the back post but couldn’t control his header from no more than six yards out.

That miss looked to have proved costly when a moment of magic from Boyd— one of the hottest properties in non-league football — 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 wasn’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 Stevenage’s woes.

Report by Ryan Goad
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report.