FARNBOROUGH Town chief Graham Westley has stunned supporters by placing popular left back Justin Gregory on the transfer list, writes ALEX NAREY.
Gregory, who has made 101 appearances for the club since signing from Dulwich Hamlet in March 2000, is joined on the list by out-of-favour centre back Jim Rodwell, who, as decided by a Conference committee last week, can not be sacked by Westley.
Rodwell's listing was not a surprise, but Gregory's has come completely out of the blue.
It is thought, however, that Gregory, who reclaimed his place in the first team last season after suffering a broken leg, has endured barracking from certain sections of the crowd in recent weeks, and this has led to the decision.
He still, however, trains with the club and continues to be available for selection.
The question is; will Gregory's presence be missed as Boro look continue their current plight after Saturday's much valued win.
Sure, these are exciting times - as Graham Westley commented after Rocky Baptiste's late winner against Northwich - but exciting times count for nothing unless results become more consistent in the league. That is why the game against Burton on Saturday - the club's 200th home Conference game - becomes even more critical.
The FA Cup run - as everybody will know - continues a week on Saturday as Westley's men travel to Southport in their bid to make it to the 3rd Round for only the second time in the club's history. However, before then, and of course, after then, Boro must continue to lift their performances in the league where they currently sit in 11th.
The clash with Nigel Clough's Burton Albion side could be where Boro's season really gets going. Win and it will not only shove them up the Conference ladder a few more places, but it would surely act as a nice tonic to take up to Southport with them. Lose, however, and it could have a serious effect on both league and cup issues for Westley.
There is no doubt that with the form that Boro showed for most of Saturday's victory against Northwich - particularly in their attacking play - that they are fit to eat at the same table as anyone in the Conference. Yet the question remains; can they do it consistently?
Memories of the last time Boro played Saturday's visitors may not be the greatest. Last season, Burton beat Boro in a reply in the FA Trophy after Clough had bagged a late equaliser at the AIMTA Stadium to take the tie back to Eton Park where Burton claimed the spoils in a 3-2 victory.
"We know that Burton were good enough to beat us in a reply in last year's Trophy," said Westley. "They will have improved since then. They are a tough proposition. But as ever, we will take the game to them from the off. What we need to improve upon is the sustenance of attack for longer than 25 minutes or so that has been our recent habit."
Coming off the back of a 2-0 home defeat to a rejuvenated Woking side, Burton certainly will be tough proposition. Their situation is not too different from that of Boro's. Sitting on 24 points in 14th position, three behind Westley's men.
Unlike Boro, Burton do have someone with a respectable scoring record in the Conference this season in Christian Moore — who has bagged 10 goals this term.
However, it would be slightly unfair to suggest that Boro are struggling in front of goal at the moment.
Also, the goal scorers are coming from pretty much all over the place. Most notably though, Baptiste has hit form perhaps just at the right time for Westley and the manager will surely be looking to the man who has now scored seven times in five games to inflict more damage on Saturday's visitors.
Commenting on the in-form striker, Westley said: "Rocky is working terrifically hard in training and in particular is taking action against the advice which he is being given. I think his best form is yet to come. When he adds another dimension to his game, he will be a terrific proposition."
Fans are urged to turn up in numbers to support Boro in their famous milestone. The opportunity to continue the recent form shown in both league and cup are essential to making Boro's season one which can be looked back on with distinct pride.
To mark Boro's 200th Conference game at the AIMITA Stadium, the club will be inviting former players from Conference years back as special guests.
In a ‘Kids for a Quid' initiative, children under 16 will be admitted for just £1. A sports quiz will also be held in the recently re-decorated clubhouse after the game at 5.30pm.
Teams of up to four people can take part, at £2 per person, with various prizes on offer. A raffle will also be held. For more details contact the club on 01252 541469.