8:00am Wednesday 2nd October 2013
Darlington’s talismanic playmaker Stephen Thompson has the capacity to improve even further and play at a higher level of football if only he would listen, believes manager Martin Gray.
Thompson joined from Durham City a year and ago and has often been the inspiration for Quakers’ goals, either as the scorer or provider of the final pass, and will hope to do so again this evening at Heritage Park against Ossett Albion.
His fourth goal of the season came in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Salford City, an eye-catching powerful shot from outside the penalty area, while he netted a similarly stunning strike at Bamber Bridge in August.
But Gray, comparing Thompson to Juventus’ Carlos Tevez, wants the 24-year-old to listen and learn.
“He can be frustrating at times and I think he can be even better if he listens,” said Gray, who hopes Nathan Fisher will finally have received international clearance in time to play this evening.
“He’s got the desire to do better, he just needs to listen about certain aspects of his game and he could end up playing at a lot higher level.
“He needs to mix his game up. When he’s got three defenders to beat, he should take the right option and keep it simple and pass. He needs to learn that you can’t always win the game on your own. We have these conversations with him all the time.
“He wants to do well for the team and he wants to impress.
“It’s a fine line because he also capable of scoring goals like that one on Saturday which sealed the win for us.
“He’s a bit of a Carlos Tevez, he can be frustrating but can also be the difference.”
Quakers’ performance on Saturday was a big improvement on the midweek drubbing at Ramsbottom United, due in part to Leon Scott being recalled to firm up the centre of midfield.
He played in the position in the first half of last season before being shifted to defence – centre-back and left-back – in the early stages of this campaign.
Scott is sure to start there again tonight as Gray was delighted with his contribution.
He said: “We gave him two jobs: Stop them playing and to keep the ball simple and that’s what he did.
“I didn’t want him getting into the box, I just wanted him to break things up in midfield and he was a real powerhouse for us.
“It was back to how he was this time last year when I first put him in midfield this time last year. He was energetic, he was horrible to play against and I thought he was great.”
Darlington, who will have a new face in the squad as Gray has signed goalkeeper Peter Jameson from Sunderland RCA to replace the outgoing Craig Turns, can go joint top of the table this evening.
Leaders Curzon Ashton do not have a midweek league game while second-place Kendal Town missed an opportunity to go top last night when they lost 2-1 to Bamber Bridge.
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