Non League Daily

Grays boss Bentley reflects on night of heroics

It's often said that being a Player Manager can be one of the toughest jobs in football. A hiding to nothing, some would suggest. Well for one Non-League manager that job became a lot easier in the last week or so.

Grays Athletic boss Mark Bentley named himself amongst his substitutes for last Tuesday night's home fixture with Hampton and Richmond but was to have an unusual impact on the outcome of the game.

With his side being beaten 2-1 the former Southend United player brought himself off the bench and headed Athletic back on to level terms within minutes of taking to the pitch. A positive decision from the manager that seemed to have helped his side sneak a point and claw back a two goal deficit that they had faced at half time.

Things were then to take a remarkable turn.

With eight minutes remaining Athletic keeper Connor Gough was sent off after a collision with visitors striker Charlie Moon. With substitute goalkeeper to replace Gough, Bentley was forced to take his place between the posts and unbelievably managed to keep a clean sheet.

So a vital equalising goal and a clean sheet as an emergency keeper, not a bad nights work. However to make things even more special for Bentley, he managed to save a late penalty and saw his side score a dramatic late winner to seal an amazing turnaround on a night nobody at Grays will ever forget.

However for man of the moment Bentley, all that mattered was the result.

"It's great and I guess it was a special night but as manager all I am bothered about is the result. People laugh when I say that and I have said it to quite a few but it is true, the result was all that matters, no matter how it comes"

A somewhat modest assessment of a rather unique acheivement, and Bentley admitted was a one-off for him in his long career in the professional and Non-League game.

"I have been on the end of some funny results in my career. Games where you are leading comfortably and lose or draw a game but if I am honest I have never experienced anything like this. It was a remarkable night and one that I won't forget but I hope I don't have to go through it again"

So will Bentley be adding goalkeeping coach to his list of roles at the club after his heroics between the sticks?

"Absolutely not, if you watch the save you will see that it wasn't something you will see in any goalkeeping manual. I enjoyed playing in goal when I was a youngster and even played a reserve game in goal earlier in my career but no I think I will leave it to the specialists.

Bentley did admit that the worldwide media attention was a new aspect of the job that he has had to get used to.

"It's been busy and a bit surreal over the last few days. The publicity is important but not for myself, it's important for Grays Athletic. We have been struggling and we need more people through the gates, hopefully the publicity will see that happen starting with our League Cup semi final against Billericay Town on Wednesday evening"

Bentley will be hoping for a quieter night at the office no doubt.

You can view the video here


Image: Grays Athletic FC/Peter Jackson

TABLES, FIXTURES, Results, Team News & MORE