Bullish Grays blast five
A blistering display of pace and one touch football blew struggling Stafford away at the New Rec in Tuesday's Blue Square Premier encounter.
Michael Standing missed the game because his wife had gone into labour but it was Steve Bull's team that was having kittens as the in-form Blues produced beautiful cut-glass football that no team in the Blue Square could live with.
advertisementIn the fifth minute, deadly Danny Kedwell beat the defender on the right side of the area and fired a low ball through that Jamie Taylor latched onto for his second of the season.
The crowd and team were ebullient. There was a warmth in the ground that contrasted starkly with earlier in the season.
A Kedwell chip was deftly turned over by keeper Danny Alcock. A minute later Jamie Stuart headed onto his bar from close range.
Barrie Cogan was starting to dominate the game with his pacy probing runs ably assisted by Adam Gross. They both worked tirelessly.
In the 21st minute, Gross marauded into the area and was pulled down with the referee pointing straight to the box. Kedwell put the ball away for his eleventh of the season.
Stafford boss, Wolves legend and one time Ebngland man Steve Bull, looked cowed and there was worse to come. In the 26th minute, Barrie Cogan met a ball in the box on the half cooly curling it round the keeper for a 3-0 lead.
Grays were steamrolling the opposition and Stafford's captain implored his players to show some pride.
The home side did lose its momentum in the last five minutes as it adapted after Jon Ashton went off with a head wound but they picked up after the restart.
Jeff Goulding came on and the versatile Neil McCafferty slotted in at right back while Stuart Thurgood began to produce rapier balls through the midfield.
To their credit Stafford started battled. Shots from Richard Sutton and Ross Draper hardly troubled Nicky Eyre but showed the tide had slightly changed. A Nick Wellcombe goal was chalked off for offside in the 61st minute.
In the 62nd minute Grays made it 4-0 as Jamie Taylor latched onto a series of short diagonal balls to run into space and put the ball beyond Alcock.
Another move involved an outrageous back heel by Cogan that ended with Gross blasting the ball just over the bar.
In the 67th minute another rampaging move led to Aaron O'Connor dancing past the battered defenders before shooting and the loose ball was snapped up by Barrie Cogan.
If it wasn't for Danny Alcock it would have been double figures. In the 73rd minute he produced a fine save from Scott Taylor.
Stafford hit back with a consolation goal in the 74th minute when sub Damian Jarratt met an Ishmale Reid free kick to head past Eyre.
After the game, coach Neil Smith was quietly satisfied with Grays performance.
He said: "All that we have worked on in training came to fruition. The pace comes from the intensity of the work outs.
"I'm pleased for players such as Jamie Taylor who is unlocking his potential. I thought Barry Cogan and Adam Gross gave a masterclass in left side play."
"They all now face a challenge at Burton on Saturday which they are all relishing."
By Michael Casey
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report