IT may not have been pretty but it was effective as Paul Vaughan’s makeshift team put in one of their best performances of the season to beat Grays Athletic 3-2 at Chadfields.
It has been a tough rookie year for Paul Vaughan with highs such as the away victory against Needham Market and a few lows but success for Paul would clearly be for Tilbury to survive or even be placed mid-table but performances such as this will confirm to Paul that he is on the right track.
For Grays it was a day to forget. After all the good work against Wingate and Finchley, they never really got going. Or should we say that the front pair never looked like scoring in a month of sundays. Ishmael Welsh tore down the left wing, Dean Pennant was solid in the middle and the defence bar a very erratic Brad Thomas were rarely troubled early on but it was the barn door brothers up front who frustrated every Grays fan and especially Julian Dicks as time after time they fluffed their chances.
They had a number of early chances but fluffed them, the most notable being when Simon Thomas missed the target with the goal at his mercy. They also had valid claims for a penalty inexplicably waved away.
However, they grabbed the lead on 14 minutes when Simon Thomas was among several players who sprang the Tilbury defensive line and, despite being yards offside and with the referee ignoring the linesman’s raised flag they bundled the ball home at about the third attempt.
Tilbury were rightly incensed as it was a shocking decision by the ref but there was no excuse for the fans’ behaviour which is likely to result in a big fine, if not even ground closure after the ‘innocent’ linesman was targeted by juvenile missile throwers.
To their credit, Tilbury’s players battled on and were rewarded before half time when Chris Taylor volleyed home an angled equaliser which embarrassed Grays keeper Steve Northwood.
In the second half most people expected Grays to move through the gears to victory but it was Tilbury who dominated, though they were immensely fortunate to be awarded a penalty when Chris Stowe took a tumble under very little pressure.
It was converted. Gray’s humiliation was compete when former Grays defender Billy Crowther, playing as a makeshift attacker curled in a looping header that defeated Northwood in goal.
Despite his profligacy, Simon Thomas volleyed in a sweet second goal and despite Alex Osborn coming on, Grays just could not grab that equaliser.
Paul Vaughan was in seventh heaven as the final whistle went. Whatever the future holds for Tilbury he can put this down on the CV as a job well done.