New boy Leroy seals Blues’ win
Grays new signing Leroy Griffiths powered his side to a 2-0 victory over Hitchin at The Rec on Saturday, setting up the first goal and conjuring up one of his own two minutes later.
Most rewarding for Grays manager Mark Stimson was his team’s work rate. Grays played like demons and should have had two or three more.
Hitchin came to town two places ahead of Grays in the table. The visitors had made a blinding start to th season, dropping only two points in the opening five games – but recently goals have become scare.
Hitchin enjoyed some early play, but with only 30 minutes gone seemed to wilt in the sweltering September sunshine. Hitchin’s James Ayres came close in the 23rd minute and Adam Parker also threatened. But as the break approached, Grays made their superior fitness and skill count.
Ram Marwa’s attacking midfield style fed Freddie Eastwood. And the pair were assisted by Start Thurgood, Martin Carthy and an ultra-sharp Tony Lock.
The breakthrough came in the 40th minute. Griffiths and Lock were both involved in an inch-perfect ball to Ade Olayinka. His subsequent cross allowed Carthy a relatively easy nod in from five yards.
Griffiths put himself on the scoresheet two minutes later. In a sustained Grays attack he stayed cool in the crowded Hitchin box, turned on the spot and stroked the ball home.
After the break Hitchin looked demoralised, but surprisingly Grays failed to nail two or three more, despite playing Hitchin off the park.
Lock, Marwa and Carthy exerted constant pressure. The visitors keeper James Robinson did well to keep the score to just two. And in the 82nd minute he had more luck. His punched clearance made contact with Griffiths in what looked like a penalty situation. But the ref ignored it, consulted his linesman and gave the free kick to Hitchin.
Grays seem to have in Griffiths and his fellow forwards, the strike-force to propel them into the Ryman Premier’s top half dozen.
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report