HOLLAND FC striker Matt Gray plans to nail down a first-team starting spot this season.

The frontman, who celebrates his 19th birthday on Sunday, has been a regular in Paul Phelan's side and wants to stay in his manager's thoughts throughout this year's Thurlow Nunn League campaign.

He was among the scorers in Friday's 6-1 victory at home to Brightlingsea Regent Reserves and also played - and won a penalty - in Tuesday's 3-1 First Division Knockout Cup defeat at Little Oakley.

"I've been at the club six or seven years, having come through the youth system, and was in and out of the first team last season, getting used to men's football," said Gray.

"Hopefully I can stay in the side and be a regular starter this year. That's my aim.

"The club have come a long way in recent years and it's nice to have been part of that.

"They're not scared to give young players a chance and it's paying off, in terms of the football we're playing.

"On a personal note, I'm happy with the way I'm playing.

"There's more to come but it's a good group to be part of and I'm enjoying playing for Paul.

"He's been great with me.

"There's been lots of communication.

"He talks to all the players and gives good advice in terms of the areas where we can improve. It's really helped."

Oakley came from behind to defeat Holland 3-1 at the Memorial Ground on Tuesday.

Gray won a penalty that was converted by Bailey Barnard.

However, the Acorns fought back thanks to Shaun Kioussis' spectacular leveller and further goals from Harry Miller and Luke Mayhew.

"It was disappointing because I thought we played well and were unfortunate to lose," said Gray.

"We had chances and could have had another couple of penalties.

"Ironically, it was probably one of our better performances, even though we lost.

"The signs look good, though.

"We're showing what we're capable of in terms of the football we're playing and, on another day, could have scored three or four.

"We've got goals in us but this just wasn't our night.

"We needed to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.

"We're getting better and only going to get stronger, though.

"The chemistry is there and we definitely feel we're making progress.

"We're starting to click, unlike at the start of the season, and we're hoping to get promotion. That's the aim."

Holland travel to May and Baker in Thurlow Nunn League first division south on Friday night before hosting Ipswich Wanderers in the League Challenge Cup next Tuesday.