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St Albans City joint manager James Gray optimistic about future
11:20am Wednesday 6th February 2013 in Local Sport
St Albans City joint manager James Gray insists there is a feelgood factor at the club and believes they can mount a strong challenge for the play-offs this season.
It was a difficult start for Gray and Graham Golds at Clarence Park with a spate of departures but the pair are starting to rebuild the squad and optimism is slowly returning. A convincing 3-1 win at Arlesey Town leaves the Saints seventh in the Evostik Premier Division and only five points off a play-off place.
Gray, whose side host Redditch this weekend, said: “I think we definitely deserved the win. We applied ourselves the way we wanted to. The pitch wasn't the greatest. It's been a turbulent time.
“I just felt driving here that it felt like we were at the end of the road turmoil wise. We've actually come out the other side and we can actually try to mount a challenge for the play-offs.
“We’ve had two sessions and we just look around the place and everyone's got a smile on their face. There now seems to be a feelgood factor. The boys have got the music on in the dressing room and everyone's having a bit of banter and it's a lively place.
“There is still a long way to go. We're not getting carried away with one win. We had a great start, then we had a little lull and lost a few players, but now we’re coming back. There’s a good buzz around the place and I’m hopeful we can carry it on against Redditch.”
The Saints opened the scoring at Arlesey after nine minutes when Greg Ngoyi was brought down in the area by former defender Danny Gordon and the striker stepped up to convert the penalty. But Aston Goss scored against the run of play for the hosts as they equalised 12 minutes before the break.
Captain James Comley set up Josh Urquhart for the Saints' second goal just after the restart and they sealed their first win this year when Chris Seeby’s stunning volley hit the bar and Ngoyi headed home the rebound.
Gray said: “You just look at the squad and I thought the two centre-halves [Ryan Wharton and Joe Bruce] that came in were outstanding. I felt against their strong outfit that I’d stick myself in there. I didn't know how long I was going to last and thought I might be coming off after ten minutes at half-time.
“The boys in front of me, I thought Josh had his best game for us and Comms looks like he's getting back to full fitness. We moved Richie [Graham] out to the left and he retained the ball great for us. Greg is always going to get goals if it's in and the six-yard box and that's why we brought him here. Keano [David Keenleyside] was outstanding again.
“We set up right and put them under a lot of pressure. Starting the game we could have been 1-0 up after 30 seconds. I was just proud as punch with the boys to be honest.”
The new management team have tried to instil an attractive passing style to their side but Gray has admitted there was a need to adjust this and adopt a more flexible approach.
He said: “It will be for you to judge in the coming weeks. Our stamp everybody knows is we like to get the ball down and play. What happened I feel is we came in and gave people the freedom to get the ball down and play but I think the scales overtipped on the balance. That’s all we were about and we were playing one touch football and didn't want to mix it.
“We’ve had a rethink and obviously brought the players in and myself just for a physical presence to mix it up a bit. If we can keep with teams and grind them down then we've got players in the side who are all technical footballers and we will create chances.”