Barking manager Gardner is expecting a different task at Grays Athletic under Cooper

PUBLISHED: 14:00 05 April 2019

Barking attack against Bury Town (pic Terry Gilbert)

Barking attack against Bury Town (pic Terry Gilbert)


Barking manager Justin Gardner is expecting a totally different challenge against Grays Athletic this weekend with Jim Cooper at the helm.

Aerial action from Barking's clash with Bury (pic Terry Gilbert)Aerial action from Barking's clash with Bury (pic Terry Gilbert)

The Blues will travel away to Aveley’s Parkside Stadium on Saturday to face Grays as they look to bounce back from successive defeats in the Bostik North.

But Gardner expects it to be very different to previous encounters, with former Barking player Cooper taking over on February 26, following Jamie Gray’s departure from the club.

“I wouldn’t say we have feisty affairs, we had one incident last year where their manager lost the plot,” Gardner said.

“My assistant manager and their manager squared up to each other and the referee tried to send me off through mistaken identity.

“It was cleared that it wasn’t correct when I went to the FA.

“I’ve known Jim Cooper for years, it will be nothing to do with Grays fans or the club, I actually get on quite well with their chairman.

“With Jim we have mutual respect for each other, we get on quite well and I don’t expect it to be anything like that.

“I expect it to be all about what happens on the pitch. We will prepare for Grays which will be another very tough game.”

The 38-year-old Gardner feels their opponents have massively under-achieved in recent seasons having played at National League level in the past.

Athletic have also won numerous FA Trophy titles and were a real force in non-league football not so long ago.

“Grays is a massive club, they’re not a club I feel should be at this level and they’ve under-achieved by being at this level in my opinion,” added Gardner.

“I’m pretty confident they will be one of the favourites for the league title next season.”

Grays have moved to bring in a few new faces in recent weeks including former Hornchurch duo Jamie Hursit and Nathan Livings.

“Most managers like to bring in their own players as they know what they’re going to get,” said Gardner.

“I think he said so that he will be bringing in a lot of players during the summer, so the players that are at the club could be playing for their future so to speak. Although they’ve got very good players now.”

Barking head into the Grays clash on the back of a narrow 2-0 home defeat to Bury Town last weekend.

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