Grays Athletic 0 v 0 Gateshead
Energetic, enthusiastic, vocal and they covered the whole pitch. Unfortunately that was just the ten Gateshead supporters that made the trip to see this awful goal-less draw at Bridge Road on saturday.
What happened here was clear. Grays went into this game with a Plan A. An unchanged team were intent on playing neat passing football that would succeed in overwhelming fellow strugglers Gateshead.
But the team from the North-East were made of durable stuff and defenders such as veteran Swailes and Curtis contained Grays very well.
In the first minute Kenny Davis sent Daniel Charge through but he was well marshaled by James Curtis.
For twenty minutes, midfiedler Paolo Vernazza impressed. Having had a good game against Cambridge, he pulled the strings as Charge looked like he was going to be the difference and should have done better in the 8th minute when once again he broke free but he shot point blank at keeper Paul Farman.
The turning point came about after twenty minutes when Grays realised that this was going be tough. The five man midfield were starting to struggle having only one attacker to feed and it became clear that if Grays were going to succeed they needed Rnkovic on immediately.
That didn’t happen and the game disappeared into a creative black hole. Vernazza disappeared, Graham couldn’t penetrate, Poole saw hardly anything of the ball and Charge became like a one armed man clapping.
The high winds were clearly a factor and a speculative free kick from Gateshead’s Darren Williams almost went in over Preston Edward’s head but the keeper managed to grasp the ball in time.
Veteran Graeme Armstrong tried to batter his way through in the 17th minute but Anwar Uddin proved an immovable force.
Another freak shot by Armstrong pinged Edward’s bar as Gateshead came more and more into the game.
The second half was one to forget and the game was reminiscent of a goal-less draw against Oxford a couple of seasons ago. Grays just couldn’t find the final pass or even a decent shot to trouble Gateshead.
In the 61st minute they brought on Charlie Taylor and Jamie Slabber but they could not impose themselves on the game as the sparse crowd grew increasingly restless.
Man mountain sub Armand One almost succeeded as he pounced on a loose ball in the 76th minute but Edwards did well to smother. A few minutes later Armstrong could do no better with a free header, again directing it straight at Edwards
Edward was the difference between the two teams and is a class apart. Now that Lee Butcher has returned to Spurs it is vital that he is not dropped again.
In the final minute, Edwards once again saved Grays blushes with a fine one handed save from defender Craig Baxter.
A stereotypical game against two teams struggling at the bottom of the league. Gateshead were delighted to have got the clean sheet and perhaps the only positive note for Grays should be that it is two clean sheets in a row which will do the confidence of the defence a world of good. It may have been ugly but points like this may well be the difference come May.
Journalists are just grateful that they didn’t pay to have to watch such poor poor entertainment.
Grays remain out of the relegation zone but have a challenge on the road now going to Oxford and Wrexham. The question will be whether the formation stays or Rnkovic / Slabber come back into the fray.
Grays Athletic (4-5-1)
Edwards P , Mawer C , Uddin A, Hoyte G , Braham-Barrett C , Graham R (Cutler S 87), Robson D (Taylor C 61 ), Davis K , Vernazza P , Poole G , Charge D (Slabber J 61 )
Subs not used: Beavan G, Rnkovic, P,
Farman P , Baxter C, Gate K , Curtis J, Turnbull P, Armstrong G ( Francis A 82), Phillips W (Robinson M 79), Swailes C , Cave P , Mackay M (One A 63), Williams D
Subs not used: Provett J, McDermott N,