Grays Athletic put in a sparkling performance to claim the three points against rock bottom Northwich with a 3-1 victory at the New Rec.
From the moment Justin Edinburgh led his players out for the warm up to the team huddle at the end of the game, the Grays unit displayed an outstanding sense of pride, determination and on several occasions displayed sublime skills to lift them from the gloom.
It began well. Another new partnership up front saw Dennis Oli shine up in tandem with the redoubtable Danny Kedwell In the 4th minute, Oli shot over the bar after a quick Gross free kick. His movement as he chests,controls and then moves on allows the team to make their moves around him.
Northwich also started brightly. Greg Strong was a tower at the back as he wrestled to control Oli. Maylett, Steel and Williams played some lovely push and run football.
They were rewarded in the 9th minute when Adam Gross, attempted to clear from his own penalty area. He missed the ball and found his boot colliding with the head of Brad Maylett. The ref took no time to point to the spot. Danny William coolly slotted home.
Grays didnt panic. Hearn ,Oli and Murray tried to ensure the team kept their shape as well as encouraging the team to shoot on sight.
But with two months having elapsed since they had scored at home, it just wouldnt go in.
In the 23rd minute Karl Murray moved up the gears to go past three Vic players. He slotted it to Kedwell on the right side but from six yards his shot was deflected by Northwich's Strong, the ball struck the post and went away for a corner..
Gavin Grant came more and more into the game with his pace and deft trickery on the right of midfield starting to ask severe questions.
Grays started to pick up the second ball and starved The Vics of key possession..
The long wait for a goal for Grays ended in the 27th minute.From a Downer throw, Cooksey produced a sharp save from Tynan but the ever-alert Karl Murray pounced onto the stray ball to push the ball home.
The Grays players and fans were elated as they had waited 9 hours and 48 minutes since the last goal at home.
Instead of pushing forward, Grays seemed a bit reluctant to hammer home the advantage. Northwich also didn't panic but found it hard to find a way through. They were nearly gifted a chance in the 43rd minute, when keeper Danny Knowles made a hash of his clearance. The ball went straight to Chris Williams but Jamie Stuart had the presence of mind to close him down, as the ball was scrambled away for a corner.
Grays came out of the blocks in the second half. In the 46th minute, a fluent move from Danny Kedwell to Gavin Grant saw a chance come to Ernie Cooksey on the left side of the area but he failed to make contact.
After a quiet first half, Gavin Grant began to blossom and gave Northwich a torrid time.
The chances started to come thick and fast. A Kedwell free kick was fired straight at the keeper.
At the other end, Knowles saved a point blank chance from Steele.
In the 57th minute, Grays went into the lead. From a Downer throw, Kedwell found space. He got to the dead ball line, sent over a cross which was met Karl Murray to head it home from close range.
Murray was now brimming with confidence. In the 63rd minute, he shot from 30 yards out. The ball dipped very late and struck the bar.
Northwich just couldn't impose themselves and were simply predictable. Rusk, Townsend and Tait came on but didn't ask any difficult questions of the Grays defence.
The surface was now cutting up very badly but that didn't stop Charley Hearn. In the 80th minute he set his sights 30 yards out and cracked the ball home to compound The Vics misery.
After the game, Justin Edinburgh was in upbeat mood.
He said: "It's been a good day at the office. The players have been a credit to themselves. They worked away at carving out chances and had enough self belief to believe it would come good."
"Eighteen shots on target shows that they are not prepared to give up and have been proven right."
Reflecting on Dennis Oli'performance, he said "He was very effective there last season. He prefers the wing but he brings another dimension in this role."
With two good results in a week, Grays climb back up to fifteenth. They now look forward to the FA Cup visit of high flying Lewes next week.
Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report