Grays overcame a tricky Cinderford Town and a referee right out of the “I’m in charge” school to win 2-1 and through to the next round of the FA Trophy.
Having suffered a run of defeats, a crowd of under 200 turned out on Halloween fearing another frightful performance by Grays.
The first half was like many of their recent games where they would carve out chances but fail to hit the target. Simon Thomas showed lots of deft touches, Jason Fontaine jinked on the wing but nobody threatened Ben John’s goal.
At the other end, debutant Steven Northwood was nervous early on but the defence looked a lot more settled with Duran Reynolds back and they had two bulky and awkward forwards to deal with.
Bradley Hudson-Odoi also looked classy but with the pitch slowly cutting up, ball playing football looked tricky.
Cinderford took the lead in the 48th minute with a fine close range volley from Lee O’Connor. There were murmurings from the stands but not on the pitch as the players battled hard to get back in the game.
Ishmael Welsh came on and immediately made his mark. in the 60th minute, he skipped past Cinderford players before passing to Alex Osborn who slotted the ball past the keeper.
The game became somewhat tetchy not helped by a referee and referee’s assistant who seemed desperate to stamp their authority on proceedings. Sending Julian Dicks to the stands seemed more about telling your mates at work on Monday, guess what I did, than refereeing a game.
Cinderford tired and soon after Grays won a penalty when the tireless Ales Osborn was upended in the box. Simon Thomas made a unilateral decison to take the penalty defying his managers instructions. Luckily for him, he thumped the ball past the keeper and Grays into the next round of the cup.
Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to Your Thurrock for the match report