By Stephen Allen
A poor performance by a lack lustre Grays side saw them miss the chance of closing the gap on the teams above them.
Grays looked in control during the early exchanges as they kept the Redbrige forwards quite although Edwards and Lee had early long range chances but both shots were wide of the target. Joe McEvoy and John Docker looked to boss the midfield and gave the Blues the first real chance to open the scoring when McEvoy released Jared Small and only a timed tackle by Hamill in the home defence stopprd his advance.
Grays were on top for long periods of the first half but were finding it hard to put through the killer pass for their forwards to score. The motormen were reduced to long ball tactics cutting out the midfield but the Blues defence cut out the danger. On the half hour mark the only move of class from Grays saw a ball from McEvoy headed, by Small, into the path of Docker for his 25 yard shot to fly into the top corner of the goal to give the Blues a desrved lead.
Redbridge long ball tactics were starting to wear down the Blues defence as mistakes started to creep in. Lee. Edwards and Brown all had shots wide of the mark as Redbridge went looking to level the game. Alex Osborn and Small were having trouble controlling the ball on the hard pitch and their attacks came to nothing as the half ran its course.
Grays came out in the second half looking to increase their lead as Docker released McEvoy but his shot was wide of the mark. Small, Osborn, McEvoy and Docker all spurned chances of scoring as the home defence held firm, clearing their lines with long balls up field. These tactics started to take its toll on the Blues as they lost shape and momentum and gave Redbridge too much space. The confidence was starting to build in the Motormans’ side as they came forward in numbers but their forwards looked out of shape as their shots were hopelessly off target.
The Blues were imcreasingly on the rack as the ball went over their heads from one end to the other. A change of tactics saw Si Thomas come on for Steve Demetriou to switch to 4-3-3 and for a while this seemed to work as Blues settled and Osborn and Small had shots on target to be saved by the home keeper Elliot. Redbridge continued the long ball upfield only to find their forwards off side as the Blues defence pushed upfield. Marvin Samuel came on for an injured McEvoy with ten minutes to go but before he could settle into his role an attack from Redbridge saw the Blues defence stretched as the ball pinged from left to right across the Grays goal before McLeod got a foot to the ball to turn it past Northwood to level the game.
Redbridge pushed for the winner but solid defending kept the ball out of danger as the referee blew for full time with Redbridge looking dangerous and a relieved Grays side thankful that they had held on for the draw.
Grays Athletic :- Steve Northwood, Eljay Worrell, Duran Reynolds, Brad Thomas, Dan Smith, Steve Demetriou (Si Thomas 70), Joe McEvoy (Marvin Samuel 82), John Docker, Dean Pennant (Jason Fontaine 90), Alex Osborn, Jared Small