BASINGSTOKE Town manager Frank Gray has backed Greg Draper to succeed in the Blue Square South after being impressed as the striker made his full debut at St Albans on Tuesday.

The former New Zealand international showed some nice touches and troubled the home defence with his footwork and build-up play.

He failed to make the most of his two best chances, his lack of sharpness showing as he couldn’t get the required pace on two efforts at goal – but Gray saw enough to give him plenty of hope going forward.

“Greg Draper came in and did well,” the manager said. “He is a good player who holds the ball up and can see people. When we get him fully fit he will be a big asset.”

Draper will be hoping to claim his first goal for the club on Saturday, when Town travel to Lewes for their third game of the season (kick-off 3pm).

Like Basingstoke, the Sussex side lost their opening game of the season, going down 1-0 away at Staines – but they went on a good run towards the end of last season, winning five of their last eight games to avoid relegation.

Both games between the sides ended in draws last season – and Gray expects a difficult game.

“Lewes will give us another tough test,” he said. “They made it tough for us last year and will do the same again on Saturday.

“They had a good run at the end of last season and will be looking to continue that. It’s always nice to get your first win and hopefully we can do that on Saturday but there are still 40 games to go.”