YOUNG Grays Keeper Richard Martin may have saved three penalty kicks in the second half of this match but the visitors proved to be too strong for this youthful Grays side.
It was one of Grays better performances but this being their seventh consecutive defeat the loyal fans are losing patience’s, especially as they watched three ex-Grays players and an ex-manager take all three points. For some is was just too much and after the third Rushden goal, most of the stands started to clear as the fans made their way home.
For most of the first half, until Rushden scored, both sides had their moments and if Grays could have made more of the long kicks coming from keeper Martin, which seemed to cause the Rushden back four all sorts of problems the result may have been different.
Grays had a half chance in the 18th minute: They were awarded a free kick some 30 yards out on the right flank, Andrea Zola took the kick, it found the head of Grays captain Harlee Dean but he could not get sufficient power on it to force a save.
Rushden had the greater possession and as the game progressed they began to take more control.
On 32 minutes, Lee Tomlin (Rushden) should have scored, 15 yards out in a central position, his shot seemed goal bound but glanced off the post and wide, a let off for Grays after their defence was split open by an excellent build up from O’Connor and Stuart.
On 40 minutes the deadlock was broken. Aaron O’Connor, who had been a constant threat, was put through with a pass that split open the Grays defence, O’Connor took aim and fired past the advancing Martin from 10 yards, giving the keeper no chance.
Just before the break on 44 mins Jack Hunt was booked for a late tackle on O’Connor.
From the resulting free kick Grays defence was opened up by deep cross to the far post and onto the head of Mark Bryne but his header was booted away to safety from 2 yards by Jon Glowacki.
Half Time 0-1
No changes made by either manager so the same twenty two continued to frustrate both sets of fans as only half chances were created.
Lee Tomlin should have extended the visitors lead in the 53rd minute when he was allowed to run at and across the Grays box before shooting inches wide with Martin beaten.
Just before the hour was up a good move started by Richard Graham on the left when he beat his marker and crossed the ball which was heading for Wayne Gray at the far post, who would have had a simple tap in but for the interception by keeper Dale Roberts.
The game was at stalemate up until Lee Tomlin started a run into the Grays box on the far left and was adjudged to have been fouled by young Jonathan Glowacki, an under 19 polish international on loan from Colchester, the referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot.
Michael Corcoran stepped up to take the spot kick, his shot was too close to keeper Martin who dived to his right and saved the ball ran loose and cleared away for a corner. The corner was long towards the far post and again it was Corcoran who dived low to beat Jack Hunt to the ball and head home Rushdens second goal.
Six minutes later with only nine minutes remaining the referee again awarded Rushden a penalty, this time when Corcoran ran onto a lost ball and keeper Martin was penalized for bringing him down.
This time, it was Jefferson Louis that grabbed the ball and demanded to take this spot kick, again he put the ball to Martin’s right and again the keeper saved with the loose ball being cleared, but the referee wasn’t happy and ordered the kick to be retaken. Again Louis took the kick this time to the keepers left but Martin was once again equal to the challenge and saved again, the loose ball this time went back to Louis and he made no mistake striking the ball into the net.
With the game now won both sides played out the remaining minutes giving Rushden the points and Grays manager Julian Dicks more worries on how or if Grays can avoid the inevitable looming relegation.