The optimists will say that this 3-0 defeat against lowly Ware was simply a bad day at the office but Grays management and players will need to have a long hard look at this performance if they are not going to endure a long hard winter of discontent in this league.
Grays went into the game with three debutants in midfield. That decision was to be their undoing as the players looked competent but faced with a very hard task of bedding in eight weeks into a season and away from home. With Steven Demetriou having returned to Daggers, Marvin suspended and Tom Harvey absent, there was no way they could possibly hope to compete.
It was a dour first half punctuated by errors and mistimed challenges.
Ishmael Welsh’s shot on 5th minute was the first significant action of the half. It was followed by a weak Simon Thomas prod a minute later.
Ware are clearly standard Ryman Div fare but started to gain confidence as they were able to easily handle the inexperienced Grays midfield .
The key to the games outcome came in the middle of the first half: Two Junior Baker mistakes should have been punished especially as the midfield stood staring at the action from afar. With no-one taking up the defensive midfield role and two wide men, even Ware were starting to think they could get something from this game.
The game became bogged down in midfield with neither side looking particulalry fluent and littered by clumsy fouls.
Dean Pennant tried to make the game expansive but his radar was a little bit off. The game started to resemble the Leyton fixture where winning ugly would be the key.
The first corner for Grays did not come until 40 minutes, Bunce sent it over , Thomas headed from the far post but it was cleared off the line.
Grays had a goal disallowed on half time after a lovely run on the left side by Bunce saw his floated cross met by Osborn but he was adjudged offside. it did however show Grays had that edge in class but only when the classy players were involved.
Ware should have taken the lead when a terrible defensive mix up involving Robinson and Ingram left the ball free for a Ware attacker but he blasted the ball over the bar.
The breakthrough came in the 54th minute when Duran Reynolds up-ended the Ware attacker and Mitchell stepped up to thump the ball past Robinson
Jared Small and Jason Fontaine came on but couldn’t give the team any extra edge, they had lost momentum and once again Alex Osbourn was ploughing a lonely furrow.
In the 68th Gazemend Dauti put the game beyond Grays when he latched onto a cross on the far post and slotted it home.
Grays hardly had any chances. Brown’s header was well turned over by the keeper but apart from that. Even with Small and Fontaine now on the passing was a little more fluent but no real execution.
The misery was complete when a dangerous tackle from Jerome Ingram saw him sent off. To add insult to injury, Ware, of whom it should be stressed kept battling away the whole time added a third.
Grays need a settled side and a settled side fast. This was all about the midfield. The four who dug out an ugly victory at Leyton are gone and that is the key. Not even Man Utd could cope with that. Consistency game them five wins in a row: inconsistency means it is now five without a win.
Grays 4-4-2: Stuart Robinson, Jerome Ingram, Danny Bunce, Junior Baker, Clydie Roberts, Duran Reynolds, Alex Osborn, Ishmael Welsh, Simon Thomas, Dean Pennant
Subs: Jared Small, Jason Fontaine, Ross Brown, Manlee Brown, Emiel Aiken