A ROLLERCOASTER game saw Grays Athletic inch closer to the play off places as they edged out Potters Bar 3-2 at Parkfield this afternoon.
Potters Bar have a reputation for being nervy starters and Grays exploited it to maximum effect as Alex Osbourn scored twice within the first fifteen minutes.
In the 11th minute, Osbourn burst in on the right of the defence to poke the ball home.
In the 15th minute it was almost a carbon copy as he latched onto a through ball from Steven Demetriou to again beat the keeper.
Grays looked positive and proactive with John Docker and Steven Demetriou getting plenty of the ball out wide.
Potters Bar had hardly threatened until the 19th minute when Espinosa got behind the Grays defence,ran across the area and stroked the ball past Stephen Northwood.
Osborn had a chance of a hat-trick as he once again sprung the offside trap but his attempts to chip the keeper was well wide.
Suddenly Potters Bar had confidence when they attacked and in the 29th minute, they were back on level terms when Espinosa latched onto a through ball and although it looked he had gone too far to the right, he managed to stroke the ball past Northwood and into the net.
Having seen how the wheels had come off last weeks match, it could have happened again but Grays regrouped. They ended the half, winning the corners and inducing panic in the area but they couldnt get the ball on target.
The second half saw a tense competitive period with neither side quite able to dominate.
The turning point came in the 56th minute when keeper Steven Northwood upended in the box. with the gusting wind behind him, stepped up to take the penalty but the ball lashed against the crossbar back onto the pitch and was scurried away by a very grateful Grays.
The Blues soon cashed in. In the 59th minute, after some intricate passing, Simon Thomas produced a lovely dinked through ball straight into Alex Osbourn’s path; the defender clipped his heels. The referee had no hesitation but to point to the spot.
Thomas crashed the ball high into the back of the net to give the Blues the lead once more.
Grays were rarely troubled after that. Potters Bar seemed to lack a plan B, kicking in hope rather than expectation whilst Grays could have extended their lead. Dean Pennant, in particular, missing a header from close range.
Despite, seven minutes of injury time, Grays were able to see out the game and grab a vital three points.
Grays now sit just seven points behind the last play off place. With seventeen games to play, it is all there to play for. Needham Market’s defeat to lowly Cheshunt has shaken up the league. Grays travel to Cheshunt on Tuesday night.