Grays dug very deep to produce a highly credible draw at Histon tonight (Tuesday).
Grays started brightly. A fine curling shot from Rigilioso in the first minute showed a great deal of confidence.
Histon signalled their intent with three straight corners which were well defended by Grays
Paul Terry’s class exuded: In the 4th minute a curled ball fell into Morgans pass but he wasn’t able to obtain a clear shot.
This was soon developing into an open game. Slabber foud space in the area but Riggioloso’s weak shot was blocked away for a corner.
Histon threatened to cut through the Grays midfield and an attack in the 13th minute saw Graham and Morgan struggling to get back.
But Morgan showed exquisite balance in the 15th to eke out a corner but was chided by his players for dwelling too long and wasting good possession.
With 17 minutes gone Histon for all their possession hadn’t really troubled Preston Edwards.
The touch of the Grays players was impressive it seemed just a matter fo time for them to bed in.
Once again virtouso work from Morgan earned a corner.
Edwards was tested in the 25th minute with a testing high ball in the area but did well to punch it away. A minute later Frew crept round the back but could only volley it into the side netting.
The fans were seeing some open flowing football but the Grays defence were aso prepared to scrap.
The game lost its shape at the end of the half but Edwards blocked a header well and the Grays defence remained resolute.
Grays conceded an unnecessary corner and were almost punished for it as Danny Wright’s free header flashed across the goal.
Histon picked up where they left off, pressurising Grays with Wright once again troubling the side netting. Histon were being given acres of space.
Gary Philips and Alan Lewer now had the benefit of John Yems counselling, beside the dugout.
Histon were back to the route one that had served them so well Morgan’s free role seemed a high risk strategy.
A Terry foul on the edge of the area saw the first yellow card. Histon’s free kick went straight into the wall. Another free kick three minutes later again didn’t trouble Edwards but made a goal feel inevitable.
The anonymous Cutler made way for Braham-Barrett as Bull moved into midfield.
The best chance of the game in the 59th minute as Wright’s shot was superbly tipped over the bar by Edwards. The corner evaded everyone.
Hoyte produced a superb last ditch tackle when Barker was clear and Grays defence showed great mettle and ability.
It took until the 62nd minute when Slabber’s curled shot went over for Grays first attack of the half.
Histon continued to attack but they started to look like a side that was never going to score.
Grays should have scored in the 68th minute when Morgan intercepted a back-pass, rounded the keeper but only found the side-netting.
With no pre-season this was now going to be about stamina. Simpson’s long shot flew over as did Gwilliam a minute later
Grays really needed to let the ball do the work but their moves were now ending with unforced errors.
Histon continued to besiege the goal. A corner in the 82nd minute saw Kenny Davis produce a fine defensive header.
Both teams could have sneaked it in the dying minutes as Rigilioso hit the keeper from six yards while Wright broke free but the superb Edwards saved well.
A fantastic finish to the game with Grays not wilting and showing some very very encouraging signs.
Grays Ath (Ratings in brackets)
P. Edwards (9) K. Davis (7) C. Mawer (7) G Hoyte (8) R Bull (Capt) (7) P Terry (6) R Graham (6) S Cutler (5)D Morgan (7)
J Slabber (8) A Riglioso (7)
Subs: B Lumley, C Braham-Barrett, S Mafoko, S Long, T Black
D Naisbett, L Oyebanjo, G Gwilim, M Langston, A Tann, J Simpson, J Kennedy, J Barker, N Knight-Percival, D Wright, M Frew
Subs: B Hudson-Odoi, C Pope, C Hammond, K Leabon, J Welch.