Grays remained mired in the relegation zone as they were brushed aside 3-1 by a resurgent Chester City at the New Recreation Ground.
To be fair, this was Chester’s third win in a row under new boss Jim Harvey and the veteran manager showed all his experience and guile as he guided the team to an impressive victory.
Chester’s fast flowing football with the impressive Michael Coulson as the pivot was the difference between the two teams.
In the 5th minute, Clarke Keltie fired the ball in and Nick Chadwick’s flying header just whisked over the bar.
The Blues should have scored in the 15th minute when Fola Onibuje out-jumped keeper John Danby to head down into Jamie Slabber’s path but he blasted over.
Onibuje was, in many ways, head and shoulders above the opposition but his colleagues couldn’t supply him with the necessary balls for the whole ninety minutes.
Grays also couldn’t impose themselves in the centre of midfield as slowly Callum Leahy and Daryl Robson disappeared. There were good bits here and there but they were not up to the challenge in the second half.
Coulson proved his worth on the half hour as Kevin Roberts sprinted into the box pulled back for Chadwick who curled it over keeper Preston Edwards.
Grays grabbed an equaliser when Onibuje replied two minutes later as the man mountain simply towered over everyone else to head it in from close range.
The game was evenly balanced but Grays fatally were giving away far too much possession and conceding territory.
But the turning point came in the 44th minute. Preston Edwards came out to gather a ball but spilled it, letting the deadly Coulson in, he squared it to Chadwick to put Chester back in front.
Grays flew out of the traps with three corners in the first five minutes but were squandering the final ball and they soon ran out of ideas and invention. The supply line for Onibuje dried up.
Chester now looked deadly on the counter with only a goal-line clearance in the 60th minute from Anwar Uddin preventing then from going further behind.
Grays rang the changes but their game ran out of ideas and with such young lightweight players coming on it started to look like men against boys.
Onibuje brought out a fine finger-tip save from Danby. In 65th minute, Slabber pounced on a stray back pass but his shot went woefully wide.
Both Roberts and Beasley had shots on target that should have wrapped up proceedings but Chadwick did in the 75th minute tapping in from three yards after good work down the left by the masterly Coulson.
With nine players leaving over the last few weeks, Dicks and Browne clearly have an idea of what they are looking for but this is now a huge transitional period for Grays Athletic in more ways than one.
The key concern here was the young lads that were coming on. Clearly talent for the future but they looked out of their depth in the white heat of a relegation battle in the Blue Square Premier.
The stats in defeat are illuminating as against Luton, Oxford and against Chester, Grays have conceded an average of nine corners as well as acres of territory.
Speaking to Andy Swallow at The Academy on friday was very similar to speaking to the Interim Chief Executive of Thurrock Council, Bob Coomber where they have come into a struggling organisation and have realised that so many improvements need to be made.
The three new french players will be interesting but it is getting the best out of Glenn Poole and Kenny Davis that may be as important as they had poor games yesterday.