Thurrock 1 Grays Athletic 2
Bill Robinson reports from Ship Lane.
If Thurrock had taken their chances they could have secured a confidence boosting victory here at Ship Lane. Grays looked second best in the first 45 minutes but did look dangerous on the break with Kenny Davis having a splendid game running the right flank. On many occasions he eluded his defender and sprinter for the by-line but the Thurrock’s two central defenders Kenny Clark and Rob Swaine were dealing very efficiently with all that Grays could muster, it looked like Jamie Slabber and Serge Makofo would have a frustrating night.
Thurrock should have taken the lead on 19 minutes, when Matt Bodkin broke into the Grays box, his low shot was deflected away by keeper Lee Butcher and the ball ran just behind the outstretched leg of Paul O’Lima who had the goal at his mercy.
Then on 24 minutes another opportunity for Thurrock to score, again Bodkin was the instigator, as he broke from defence he played a through ball towards David Bryant between Shayne Mangodza as both players tussled for possession the advancing keeper also involved some how the ball managed to get tangled up in Bryant legs and he failed to get his shot away.
With the half hour just up Thurrock were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal on the right, Lee Flynn lined up to blast a shot into the wall, the ball looped up and dropped onto the cross bar and over for a corner with everyone ball watching, from the corner Paul O’Lima headed just wide of the far post.
As Grays moved forward to give their defence time to recover a long ball went out to the right which found Kenny Davis he laid it inside for Sam Long to send over a penetrating cross for Richard Graham to rise and head the ball firmly into the net.
The goal boosted Grays and they quickly took control of the game, pushing on looking for a second. From a Davis corner Serge Makofo tried to lop the keeper who just managed to tip it over the bar.
Thurrock came out for the second half and straight into attack, another free kick again taken by Flynn saw the Grays substituted keeper Pat Higgins finger tip his goal bound shot over the bar.
For most of the second period the game was a struggle in midfield, Grays had tightened up their defence and midfield which meant the game lost its flow and ebb. Grays then had more time on the ball and had the greater possession and opportunities to build attacks.
Both Sam Long and Harlee Dean had long range efforts on target and where beginning to test the Thurrock defence.
On 68 minutes David Bryant was replaced by the lively David Knight, who was into the thick of the action straight away, his pace was making him look very dangerous and within 10 minutes of his arrival he scored the equalising goal.
An unfortunate goalkeeping error saw the ball fall for Knight who had the easiest job of turning the ball into the empty net.
With only ten minutes remaining could Thurrock hold onto a deserved draw, but once again and for the third pre-season friendly they conceded a goal in the last few minutes of a game.
Grays where playing their best football of the evening, looking to grab the winner, and with just 4 minutes left on the clock Jamie Slabber found space inside the box on the left after a great run and through ball from Davis, he side footed a curing shot to the left of the keeper and in off the post.
Thurrock will rue the many missed chances but the positive being that they did create many, for Grays, they looked under strength for another campaign in the Conference but we look forward to Craig Edwards announcing his new signings later this week.