Extra work pays off for Cobblers striker Gray

MAN OF THE MOMENT - James Gray is the centre of attention after scoring the winner against Luton Town on Saturday (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
MAN OF THE MOMENT - James Gray is the centre of attention after scoring the winner against Luton Town on Saturday (Picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Extra work on his finishing paid dividends for striker James Gray in Saturday’s win over Luton Town.

The Accrington loan man scored his first goal in the claret and white against the Hatters, and what a crucial strike it proved to be as it sealed a 2-1 win that keeps the Cobblers in the play-off chase.

Gray admitted after the match that the fact he hadn’t scored for the club prior to Saturday was bothering him, and that he put in a few extra shifts with assistant manager Alan Knill ahead of the match to try and sharpen up his game.

“Not having scored was playing on my mind, as this was my fourth start,” said Gray.

“It was a massive game, and I went into it having done a little bit of extra work with Knilly (Alan Knill) in the week.

“So I am really happy that it has come, and that it was the winning goal in the end.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of finishes, but it ended up in the back of the net.”

Gray, who was brought in as cover for injured top scorer Marc Richards, will now be hoping that he can hit the net on a regular basis over the final seven games of the season.

And the 22-year-old also admitted he was delighted to clinch three points for manager Chris Wilder, who rescued the player from sitting on the sidelines kicking his heels while out of favour at Accrington.

“The manager has brought me in to score goals, and he has put a lot of faith in me,” said Gray.

The manager has brought me in to score goals, and he has put a lot of faith in me On Saturday, I have repaid him and scored the winning goal

Cobblers striker James Gray

“On Saturday, I have repaid him and scored the winning goal.

“I am enjoying it here, and probably enjoying my football more than I ever have.

“It’s a massive club and I am enjoying being with the lads.”

The Cobblers now face a huge Easter programme, as they travel to take on an AFC Wimbledon team just three points behind them on Good Friday, and then they host struggling Cambridge United at Sixfields on Monday.

A six-point haul would really put Northampton in the play-off mix, and that is what Gray is targeting.

“Knilly and the gaffer said after the Luton game that our season is still alive,” said the Northern Ireland Under-21 international.

“If we can get back-to-back wins over Easter, then I am sure teams in and around us will drop points.

“If we can get those two wins, then I’m sure we’ll only be one or two points off the play-offs, and that’s where we want to be.”