Gray hails his first Hatters hat-trick as he plays through the pain barrier

Netting his first Hatters hat-trick took striker Andre Gray’s mind off a calf injury that prevented him from jogging against Hyde at the weekend, writes Mark Wood.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 15th October 2013, 7:00 am
L13-1221 LTFC v Hyde at Kenilworth road, Luton 4:1 
Mike Simmonds
JR 42
L13-1221 LTFC v Hyde at Kenilworth road, Luton 4:1 Mike Simmonds JR 42 12.10.13

The livewire striker admitted afterwards that Luke Ashworth’s professional foul, which saw the centre-half red-carded midway through the second half had aggravated the problem.

He said: “I was more frustrated that he kicked me on my calf (rather than denying him a goalscoring opportunity) and I’ve had a dead calf since Tuesday night.

“It came on a bit strong today and I couldn’t really jog properly, but I could sprint so the fact that I got through and he hit me on my calf again I was more frustrated because it killed it even more.

“It was just a deal leg, but when it creeps up on you and you get whacked on it again it doesn’t help.”

Gray threatened from the start at the weekend and forced a great low save out of David Carnell after only nine minutes.

He said: “The first chance I’ve cut back inside and I thought it was going to be a replay of Tuesday, but it wasn’t.”

But he was delighted that he had been able to back himself as he want on to score a hat-trick.

“I’ve just started to try and believe in myself that little bit more now,” said Gray.

“I believed I could score a hat-trick today and I’ve done it and I think it’s just a matter of believing in yourself.

“I’ve missed the first chance and it’s about keeping your head up and knowing that you’re going to get another one and luckily I have and I’ve kicked on from there today.”

His first goal came when he turned brilliantly on to Scott Griffiths’ cross and then held the defence off before sliding into the bottom corner in front of the home supporters in the Oak Road end.

He said: “I don’t even remember it to be honest. I just remember trying to get my shot off.

“He was pulling me back a little bit, but I managed to shrug him off and get my shot off.

“I think the referee was going to give a penalty, because he was pulling me back, but I managed to shrug him off and get my shot off and it’s gone in.”

His second was the best of the bunch as he burst on to Paul Benson’s flick from Mark Tyler’s free-kick and his first-time left-foot half-volley bulged the right-hand top corner.

He said: “I didn’t know if I was offside or not, but someone must have been playing me on and I’ve just put my foot through it and luckily it’s ended up in the top corner.”

Gray feared he may need to show his mettle from the spot to complete his treble, but instead was able to fire home from close range when a corner was headed back across goal.

He added: “I had this little funny feeling we were going to get a penalty and I was just thinking if I would take it or not.

“Luckily we didn’t and I managed to get a little tap in and I think it was just what I needed, I didn’t really care how I scored I just wanted to get my hat-trick.”