GRAYS capped a great week as they climbed to just two points behind the leaders with a sound 2-0 victory against Waltham Abbey at Rookery Hill on Sunday.
Grays looked very lively from the start. Joao Carlos and Dave Cowley charging down the flanks.
But before long the game started to get bogged down in midfield. Abbey lacked fluency with only the much-fancied Steve Cawley able to impose himself.
A sublime piece of skill from Carlos released Dave Cowley but he overcooked his cross.
Abbey could have grabbed the lead when Andy Hall failed to get to a cross but Loren Maxwell’s header went wide.
Grays game was punctuated by stylish flicks and mis-placed passes.
A David Cowley 20-yard-strike was parried away by keeper Richard Hayward as it looked like he may be the difference between the two teams.
Bradley Thomas came on for an injured Grant Cooper on the half hour.
Another great chance came in the 41st minute: Antony Ryan got to the edge of the box, passed it square to Joe Sweeney but his shot just could not find the potency. The same happened again a minute later but the ball was smothered by Hayward.
The thing about Joe Sweeney is that he will get the chances but he failed to put the ball away for a third time when it was easier to score.
Grays carried on where they left off with Antony Ryan missing an easy header from three yards.
The deadlock was broken in the 53rd minute after another goalmouth scramble. It was Antony Ryan who scuffed the ball home.
Ryan is a combative young player with an aggressive style but has clearly impressed in training and is now starting to forge quite a partnership with Joe Sweeney.
Grays continued to apply the pressure and again it was the keeper Hayward who kept Grays at bay.
Sub Danny Bunce put the game beyond doubt in the 76th minute as he latched onto a Joe Sweeney cross to head home from close range.
Abbey did threaten briefly but the ever reliable Junior Baker produced a perfectly time tackle inside the box.
Grays Ath go onto another key battle with Leiston away next Saturday.
Grays Ath: Hall A, Pope C, Ryan A (Small J 81), Baker J, Sweeney J, Cooper G (Thomas B 29), Muguo S, Cowley D, Flynn L, Agombar H, Carlos J (Bunce D 67)
Subs not used: McEvoy J, Sigere J-M