Crystal Palace midfielder keeps dad happy with another goal
Timing. It's reputedly the secret of good comedy.
And it’s quite crucial on the football field too as Jake Gray demonstrated at Victoria Park.
Hartlepool United fans were not laughing as they watched their side invite Dagenham & Redbridge back into the match.
Matt Cash had just passed up a golden opportunity to level the bottom-of-the-table battle at 2-2 when Luke James found Gray 30-odd yards from goal.
The midfielder showed a nice touch and trademark run, with a finish to match from the edge of the Daggers’ box into Liam O’Brien’s right corner.
It was almost a carbon-copy of the goal he scored at the Town End to kill off Leyton Orient back in November and this too made it 3-1.
The goal settled Pools, and while there was a couple more anxious moments, they saw out the game relatively freely for three key points.
“We were just coming under a bit of pressure at that time,” Gray explained.
“The gaffer changed me to wide right and within a minute I got a goal.
“It was a good decision from the manager!
“They scored a bit of a freak goal in the first half to get back into the match.
“Cash had just taken a chance from 25 yards out and I don’t think Trevor [Carson] has quite seen it, I think there might have been a few players in his way.
“We could hear their manager giving then a right rollicking at half-time and we knew they would come out all guns blazing.
“But luckily we got the third goal and we got on top again.”
It was Gray’s sixth goal since joining Pools and it made him, his boss and the fans, and his dad, happy.
Steve Gray, presumably a proud father of the Crystal Palace midfielder, had been in his boy’s ear, as Jake revealed.
“Last week my dad was on at me, saying ‘you need to get a few more goals from here until the end of the season’,” said the 20-year-old.
“I was like ‘come on dad, give me a break, it will come’.
“He’s just jealous I think! Seriously, I learned a lot from him growing up.
“But as soon as this interview is finished I’ll be giving him a bell to tell him about my goal!”
Gray Jnr has every right to smile.
It was another fine finish and he has the knack of scoring good goals, especially at the Town End.
There aren’t many scruffy goals,
“Not many, no,” he said.
“Rakish Bingham said in the changing room it was a ccase of deja-vu.
“When I was celebrating it felt like the [second] goal against Leyton Orient.
“I was trying to do a different celebration, I was just pleased to get on the scoresheet.”
Gray’s goal was more than just a sweet strike.
It sealed the deal against the Eastenders and put some space between Pools in 22nd and the bottom two and moved the boys in blue closer to the likes of Stevenage, Yeovil and tomorrow night’s opponents, Newport County, who are currently 18th.
“York drew and Stevenage lost so they were good results,” said Gray.
“It’s happy days for us really.
“We’ve won two on the bounce and that’s not happened for a while so confidence is high.
“Everything seems to have come together for us.
“Everyone is chipping in with goals and confidence is high.”