On a warm day and a dry, dusty pitch Grays Athletic took to the pitch knowing their play-off dreams were virtually dead and needed to play for pride.
Thamesmead started the game the liveliest when Lea Dawson released the ball to Raph Momodu to run at the Blues goal. His partnership with his brother Gabe looked to be a dangerous one as he shot wide early. The Momodu’s moved forward again and only solid defending from Brad Thomas and Eljay Worrell kept the danger at bay. Thamesmead kept the pressure on and Gabe Momodu found himself clear to shoot straight at Steve Northwood in the Blues goal. Grays turned the pressure round when, in their first effective move, a long ball from Thomas found Jared Small clear, he passed wide to Jason Fontaine for his shot to roll into the goal after John Mott got a hand to the ball to give Grays the lead against play on 11 minutes.
Thamesmead continued the pressure trying to level. The Momodu’s combined well, after a defensive mix up, for the ball to go wide from Gabe. Mick Davis found himself clear and shot from 25 yards to see the ball go just over the bar. Grays were starting to get back into the play and soaked up the attacks. On 25 minutes Danny Bunce picked up the ball and hit it long to Steve Demetriou who’s shot deflected off Jared Small into the path of Fontaine who cooly lifted the ball over Mott to put Grays 2 – 0 up on 25 minutes. The game settled into a midfield tussle with neither team controlling the ball until a shot from Thamesmead’s Dawson saw the ball hit the arm of Thomas. The penalty call was turned down by the ref and the home manager was sent from the bench for protesting. Thamesmead forced a corner and a clever cross from Harrison Carnigi found Nick Davis clear but his well struck header crashed against the bar, effectively the last action of the half.
From the restart Grays chased to increase their lead as they attacked when Danny Bunce hit a long pass to Fontaine, some clever passing between Small and Oxbie ended in Oxby’s shot going wide. Thamesmead were not out of the game and a run and shot from Marcus Perona went narrowly wide, a good pass through to Dawson pulled out a good save from Steve Northwood as the home team upped the pressure. Oxbie intercepted the ball and found Osborn clear of the defence but his easy shot was saved by Mott. The half was beginning to be dominated by Thamesmead as they took hold of the midfield. Rich Avery and Dawson tried to release Raph Momodu but some brave defending by Thomas kept the ball at bay. The Blues defence were on the back foot as Thamesmead came forward in numbers. Reynolds and Worrell managed to clear their lines and Bunce still looked to get the ball forward as Grays performance dipped and the midfield gave the ball away easily.
The home forwards were finding ways through the defence but some woeful shooting saw the ball go wide or over as Grays looked like a side playing out the season. Raph Momodu ran through the defence and only quick thinking by Northwood saved the day. Joe McEvoy came on for a tired looking Fontaine to beef up the midfield and almost immediately found Osborn free or the home defence the pass through found Small in front of goal and a clever turn saw his shot go narrowly over. Both teams looked like the mid-table teams that they are as inspiration was in short demand and both sides cancelled each other out with the players beginning to look tired. A dour second half finished with a typical end-of season performance that left the crowd of 72 silent.
Steve Northwood, Eljay Worrell, Brad Thomas (Junior Baker 85), Duran Reynolds, Danny Bunce, Jason Fontaine (Joe McEvoy 70), Steven Demetriou, Richie Oxby, John Docker (Danny Hearty 45), Alex Osborn, Jared Small.