Grays through in League cup
Nationwide Conference leaders Barnet sent a reserve squad to Grays New Rec ground and were unceremoniously dumped out of the GLS League Cup.
Despite the one-sided score line, Blues’ near misses could have made the goal tally much higher against a side which was not up for it at Tuesday’s bitterly cold encounter.
The third round game saw teenage midfielder Gary Hooper net the first with just four minutes on the clock.
Tony Battersby scored the next eight minutes later when he lamped in a long range shot which left Barnet keeper Shane Gore clutching at air.
With only five first team squad members on the pitch, the Conference’s runaway leaders struggled against a strong Blues side which fought for every ball in midfield.
Centre park dynamo Stuart Thurgood never let the ball rest, and at time he and other Grays players were on the receiving end of frustrated and reckless challengers from the visitors.
Barnet’s weakness in defence – thanks to hesitancy from reserve players Jahmal Samuels, Andrew Hodge & Dean Cracknell – were exploited by Griffiths who showed flashed of brilliance.
Grays were only really tested once in the first half when first team striker Guy Lopez found himself in space. But his weak shot was lame.
Griffiths – back to full fitness after his bout of flu – was the supplier of a golden chance at the other end. His searching cross deserved a better headed finish from big centre forward Battersby.
At the break the visitors brought on keeper Ricky Millard but Grays kept up the pressure even when Griffiths was brought off by manager Mark Stimson and 30-year-old all-rounder Martin Carthy was brought on.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Mitchell Cole made the score line 3-0.
A failed Grays corner resulted in a diagonal ball which found it’s way to Cole who drove home a close range right foot shot to seal the visitors’ fate.
Battersby could have made it four with seconds left after he let loose a powerful blast which struck the inside of the crossbar but amazingly it sprang out.
Report by Frazer Clark
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report.