I spoke to Frank Gray this morning for a final update on this evening?s game at Grays Athletic. Frank is very much looking forward to going back to the Recreation Ground: he pointed out that it was not only he and Gerry Murphy who were there last season, but also Adam Green, Steve Snelling and the goalkeeping coach. But he emphasised that there were no scores to settle: it was simply another game but with added importance for both sides because it was Grays? first home game and our first away trip.
He says that he will probably be adding Jerome Maledon to Saturday?s squad but that Liam Marum still hasn?t recovered sufficiently from his calf injury. Apparently, although Liam made quite an impact when he came back in the second half of the pre-season game against Southampton, it was clear that the injury hadn?t healed and he has therefore needed further time out.
Frank confirmed that he hasn?t made any other changes to the squad. I asked him if it was a bit of a gamble having a young untested keeper (Ross Worner) on the bench but Frank said he had confidence in Ross: ?We haven?t just picked him up off the street. He has been training with us all pre-season and came on in one of the friendlies. He performed well in the pre-season. So, I?m happy with things as they are but we can change things if need be.?
Frank said that he thought Grays had played well in their game against Torquay: ?they had the best of the first half and Torquay had the better of the second half, so a draw was probably a fair result? he said, adding ?Grays were probably pleased with a point but will no doubt be keen to get three points in their first home game. It will be a tough test for us.?
I reverted briefly to the Rushden game. Frank said that he had been pleased with his team?s performance: ?We knew that we would have to battle and match them physically ? which we did. But we also played some good football. I was disappointed, though, that we went slack after we scored and allowed our discipline to waver.? I asked Frank for his reactions to Marvin Morgan?s goal: ?He took it well?, Frank replied ? which seemed a bit of an understatement to me! ? and went on: ?He?s a strong lad and quicker than people think. He?s also got a good touch; he?s a footballer not just a target man.? I said that our performance had perhaps surprised some fans after our showings in the pre-season friendlies and asked, provocatively, if we had performed better than he?d expected. ?No?, said Frank, ?our performance was exactly what I was expecting. I?m still surprised that people take so much notice of pre-season games. I stressed that they were mainly about fitness and trying out formations.?
I mentioned that, whilst fans were generally enthusiastic about the performance, one or two had expressed disappointment that he hadn?t thrown Goma Lambu or David Shin on towards the end against a tiring Diamonds? defence. Frank was pretty dismissive of this suggestion: ?I?m not sure who they think I should have taken off: both Matt Ruby and Danny Bunce were doing well as defensive wing backs. That?s a very different role from being an attacking wing back. Rushden were putting us under pressure too at times and Matt and Danny had an important part to play in defence.?
I wished Frank and the team the best of luck for this evening?s game.