Goals romp for Grays
Table-Toppers Grays were back to their scintillating best on Saturday when they hit a sorry Scarborough side for five of the best at the New Rec.
The win means Mark Stimson’s men move to within one game of equalling the Conference’s best ever start to a season – set by Kettering Town during the 1990/91 season – and the Blues boss is confident his side can match that 15 game unbeaten stretch when they travel to Southport in two weeks time.
”We’ve put ourselves in a great position and we will be looking to get that record,” he said. “Southport away will be a tough game up there but we look forward to it and if we perform anywhere near the level we have been at over the past couple of months then we have a great chance.”
After two successive draws, the 5-0 demolition of Scarborough re-asserted Grays’ position at the top of the table and it was done in customary style.
The goals were shared out between Jamie Slabber, Glenn Poole, Gary Hooper, Michael Kightly and Stuart Thurgood, but it was star-striker Dennis Oli, whose star shone the brightest.
The 21-year-old couldn’t get on the score sheet himself but his lightening speed and twinkle tows had the Seadogs defence in knots for the whole 68 minutes he was on the field.
Twice in the opening exchanges the ex-QPR man presented Aaron McLean with glorious chances to score but on both occasions the striker-cum-midfielder spurned them.
The first opportunity arrived in the eighth minute when Oli tricked his way down the right and slipped McLean through but the ex-Aldershot man’s shot went tamely wide from a good position.
Oli swapped wings to carve out the second chance, dancing his way down the left this time, before pulling the ball back to McLean who swept his shot wide of Leigh Walker’s far post.
McLean was one of only three outfield players staring the game not to have scored this season and he looks painfully short of confidence in front of goal at the moment.
But to his credit, he gives 110 per cent for the cause every week and is at least getting himself into the positions to score, which is more than can be said of the Scarborough forwards who were as toothless as Nobby Stiles.
The closest the Seadogs came to scoring in the first half was when they had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down after Michael Coulson’s cross into the box appeared to have been palmed away by John Martin.
Referee Fred Graham, waved the visitors’ appeals away and that was pretty much that in the way of Scarborough chances.
Grays on the other end were creating opportunities at will and the only surprise was that they had to wait until just shy of the half hour mark for Slabber to break the deadlock.
Collecting a long kick from Nicky Eyre, the ex-Tottenham marksman worked a cute give and go with Oli before firing home his sixth goal of the season.
Slabber could have doubled the lead before the interval when he latched onto a short back pass from Ashley Lyth but could only find the side netting after rounding Walker in the Seadogs’ goal.
The floodgates really opened in the second half as Grays turned on the style and showed just why they are sitting pretty at the top of the league.
McLean had a penalty appeal waved away and saw a volley whistle past the post, while Slabber shot across the face of the goal as Blues’ piled on the pressure.
At the other end skipper, Neil Bishop, tested the reflexes of Eyre with a drive from the edge of the box but it wasn’t long before the game was beyond the visitors’ reach.
Oli was once again the architect spinning the cumbersome Simon Weaver with remarkable ease, before powering into the box and striking a post with his angled shot.
The ball evaded the Scarborough defence and fell kindly for Poole who had the simple task of side-footing home. Both Weaver and the returning Mark Quayle then had headed chances to halve the arrears but Scarborough forays into the opposition half were as rare as a Grays defeat.
Poole should have made it three when he blasted over from close range and then the move of the match led to sub Gary Hooper grabbing his fourth goal of the season.
After the ball had been played from one side of the pitch to the other, Thurgood played in Martin with a wonderfully disguised pass. Martin crossed for Hooper who, after what seemed like an eternity, poked the ball home to make it 3-0.
Michael Kightly then collected his first goal for the club when he stroked home a fantastic cross from Ade Olayinka and in the dying embers of the game Paul Foot conceded a controversial penalty and Thurgood hit the back of the net from 12 yards.
Understandably Stimson was left purring at his side’s performance after the game.
He said: “I don’t think it would have mattered what team we played today, they would have struggled against us. That’s as well as we’ve played over the course of 90 minutes for the whole season.
”We got five goals from all over the park and we could have easily have scored a lot more at the other end. We kept our first clean sheet since the Hereford game so it was a good day.
Report by Ryan Goad
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report