Hartlepool United’s Crystal Palace midfielder Jake Gray will stay as long as boss wants him to

Jake Gray is congratulated on a goal
Jake Gray is congratulated on a goal

“I’m loving it at the moment and I’m here however long the manager wants me. Happy days.”

Happy days indeed.

It was my first professional goal, so it was an amazing feeling


Those words will be music to the ears of Hartlepool United gaffer Ronnie Moore.

His Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew will doubtless have been happy to tune into Sky Sports 1 yesterday to see that the young Eagles protege is scoring goals.

Jake Gray’s double against Leyton Orient at Victoria Park made all the difference for Pools.

No disrespect to Pardew, but it’s what Gray may do in the blue shirt with white sash which matters most.

There were positive signs last week in the FA Cup against Cheltenham, a jinking run or two, a near miss, but, overall a player who wanted to get forward and shoot.

No disrespect to Nicky Featherstone and Michael Woods, who have scored highly with this writer this season, but there has been a lack of shots – and goals – from the central areas.

Hopefully, not now.

Gray’s 70th-minute strike past Charlie Grainger was helped somewhatby a deflection from Alan Dunne while his second was a sweet strike from 12 and a bit yards following a sumptuous pass by Kal Naismith.

“Unbelievable,” was the assessment of his emotions after the ball hit the net.

“It was my first professional goal, so it was an amazing feeling. I don’t have the words to describe it.

“It was a proud day for me and my family.

“Mikael (Mandron) got it to me and while I saw their centre-mid coming but I knew if I took a good touch and shifted it then anything can happen.

“Luckily it took a deflection, but they all count.”

The second goal was made in the Marina, the club’s flat there, not the water.

Gray has been joined in the Pools accommodation by Kal Naismith, who was an 11th hour signing by Pools and only met his team-mates at Maiden Castle on Saturday.

The ex-Rangers wideman produced a great pass which Gray tucked away.

“It was a brilliant ball from Kal,” said the 19-year-old. “We are staying in the same flat and we’d only just met the day before so it was nice to share that with him.

“Me and Kal hit it off straight away and you could probably see that on the pitch.

“He saw my run brilliantly and it was a great outside-of-the-foot ball and luckily my shot went in.

“I’m so happy to score and really pleased to help the team win.”

While Leyton Orient may have ran the game for long periods and played some excellent football, it is goals that matter.

Pools got them may have had a bit of luck on their side, with two of them – the equaliser by Kudus Oyenuga and Gray’s opener – but the Palace teenager said Moore’s side are happy to take it.

“It was a bit frantic in the first half and a bit end-to-end at times, but it was a brilliant victory,” said Gray who is already looking ahead to Saturday’s visit to Mansfield.

“That’s the second on the bounce now at home and you can tell the fans were really pleased and everyone was buzzing in the changing rooms.

“We did not start the greatest and they put us under a bit of pressure.

“But there is a good atmosphere in the group and we dug in really well.

“We got a quick equaliser which I think really helped and boosted our confidence.

“We had to fight for it but it was a good victory in the end.”