A FIFTH win in a row saw Grays Ath rise to fourth in the league as their battle for promotion continued with a 2-0 win against Heybridge Swifts at Rookery Hill.
Grays started on the front foot. A terrific shot by Kenny Beaney in the second minute hit James Bunn as it went goalwards, Joao Carlos put the deflection in but he was offside. But there was luckier deflection in the 5th minute when the ball struck a Heybridge defender in the box and James Bunn slammed the ball in from close range.
They should have gone two-up in the 8th minute as Nathan Gordon was totally free on the right of the area but he struck the bar, a-la Ronnie Rosenthal.
In the 12th minute, Carlos stormed down the left, turning the Swifts defence but his shot was turned away for a corner.
In the 15th minute, Daniel Foakes was through with just Tony Tucker to beat. Tucker handled the ball outside the area. He received a yellow card.
Nathan Gordon continued his fine run of form as an exquisite piece of skill as he dragged down a ball illustrated.
Grays and not for the first time, needed to get that second goal and when Tony Tucker saved well at a one-on-one, boss Hakan urged his team to move up a gear.
With the sun shining and a good surface, Grays looked like the classy side that started the season so well. And at both ends as Bradley Thomas produced an outstanding interception in defence.
The second half opened with a Brad Thomas header going just over. But the game then faded as Grays lost all their momentum and seemed to lack a cutting edge.
At the other end, former Tilbury striker Jack West looked dangerous. In the 59th minute, he earned a free kick on the edge of the area. Luke Callender struck it well but it produced a great save from Tucker.
Heybridge sensed they could get something out of this. Grays brought on Joe Sweeney and Jean-Michel Sigere but they still could not get a shot on target or put a fluent move together.
But just when everyone was falling asleep, the subs combined superbly in the 85th minute. Siegere turned the defenders in the box, got to the dead ball line and slipped it to Joe Sweeney to put the game beyond doubt.
Grays Ath: Tucker T, Ikumelo S (Sweeney J 63), Cooper G, Thomas B, Flynn L, Gordon (N Fontaine 86) J, Beaney K, Bunce D, Hall J, Carlos J, Bunn J
Subs not used:Ryan A, Smallwood J