By Steve Allen
IT does appear that Grays Athletic truly raise their game when playing sides a league a two above them and this FA Trophy 3rd qualifying round tie in the deepest Cotswolds was a fine example of this.
Simon Thomas has been under pressure all season but today he sparkled for Grays and illustrated why only a couple of seasons ago he was playing for Crystal Palace.
Thomas opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after a fine cross from the left saw Alex Osborn rose above the keeper nodded it down into the path of Thomas who neatly tapped the ball in.
Grays received a set back when Alex Osborn went off with an ankle injury.
But Cirencester are made of durable stuff and Matt Sysum scrambled home an equaliser in the 43rd minute to put the game level.
In the 50th minute, Stephen Demetriou plundered down the right hand side sliding the ball through for the impressive Bradley Hudson-Odoi. Odoi fought hard to get down to the dead ball line but managed to pull the ball back leaving Thomas once again with a simple tap in to the Blues in the lead in a trophy they won in 2005 and 2006.
Yet once again, Cirencester chipped away at the Blues, soaking up the pressure, hitting on the break and creating chaos in the heart of the defence. In the 56th minute, striker Carl Brown pounced on a loose ball to claw Grays back once again.
Grays worked harder and harder but couldn’t take the lead. The Blues had a goal disallowed just before the whistle but returned back east confident that they can defeat Cirencester when they meet again on Tuesday night.
Grays Ath: Northwood, B Thomas, Reynolds, Baker, Bunce, Demetriou, Harvey, Pennant, S Thomas, Osborn, Aiken
Sub: Brown, Odoi, Samuel, Fontaine, Docker