High winds and more experienced players conspired to defeat Grays Athletic as they went down battling 2-0 at the New Rec to Luton Town.
Luton look like a team that are on their way back up and many of their players such as Kevin Nicholls and Kevin Gallen had the nouse that was the difference between the two teams.
Keeper Kevin Pilkington could hardly kick the ball out of his box and so the Hatters played a patient passing game waiting for their moment.
In the 10th minute, Claude Gnakpa evaded the tackles of three Grays players, produced a fine pass into Tom Craddock whose shot was smothered by Preston Edwards
With Grays playing three debutants in midfield Kevin Nicholls and Adam Newton started to dominate, scooping up possession and showing a lot more bite..
In the 17th minute, Kenny Davis’ mazy run produced a probing cross that Pilkington dropped but Keith Keane did well to scamper the ball away.
Debutant blue, Alsseny Cissoko looked assured in midfield as the water carrier but little Harry Agmobar for all his energy just couldn’t get into the game.
Grays, once again could not supply Fola Onibuje with any decent supply and once again, there wasn’t a great deal of understanding between himself and Jamie Slabber.
Billy Crowther sent off in his last game for mistimed tackles saw yellow again in the 27th for a nasty challenge on Gnakpa.
On the half hour a Cammy Mawer mistake let Gnakpa cross from the left but with the goal at his mercy the wind seemed to take the ball away from a diving Craddock
Luton’s patience paid off. In the 37th minute Craddock took advantage of a ball pinging in the area to place the ball past Edwards
Grays attacks were few and far between. On half time, industrious Kenny Davis sent in a missile from the right which Alan White did well to head away for a corner.
Grays had terrible problems when it was their turn to face the gale and it didn’t take long for the Hatters to extend their lead when Nicholls dispossessing Danny Bunce, slipped the ball square to Kevin Gallen. The veteran made no mistake to put Luton 2-0 up.
Grays chances were limited to the odd scramble. Onibuje should have done better in the 63rd minute but was well shackled by Shane Blackett.
Gallen should have scored a minute later from a fine diagonal ball but as in the first half the ball evaded his reach.
Mark Nwokeji came on and injected pace. In the 80th minute he marauded into the box but his shot flashed over the bar. A minute later Adam Newton produced a fine save from Edwards with a twenty yard shot.
You can see where the management are going on this one. Cissoko is exactly the type of defensive midfielder that the club need. Too many of the central midfield pairings have been anonymous and ill-defined.
As for little Harry. we say: give the kid time. They are obviously seeing things in training and YourThurrock plans to go down on wednesday to have a look.
Steven Reed looked short of match practice. Glenn Poole has been off form recently but was he bad enough to be replaced by an overweight Reed?
On the plus side, Kenny Davis was played in his natural position and had a stormer.
Grays have two signings coming this week and it is clear that Julian and Kenny are trying to carve out a team that are fully equipped to get Grays Athletic out of trouble.
Trouble is: will anyone be watching? There were less than 250 Grays fans at the game. Grays may be leaving Grays but it looks like the fans have beaten them to it.