Up until the 68th minute, Grays Athletic looked good value for the fifth undefeated game in a row.
They had kept to their game plan, they were playing well. Ishmael Welsh had once again terrorised the defence and in the 37th minute danced his way past two defenders in the Histon area and neatly slotted the ball home to put the Blues 1-0 up.
As the second half wore on, the three points looked on.
Grays' defence were once again excellent although Steve Arnold’s kicking was erratic. Damian Batt was having his best game for the club. The midfield did their jobs with Stuart Thurgood putting in a shift as well as guiding his colleagues towards the three points.
Wes Thomas was playing really well - always looking to link play. In the 58th minute he should have put the game beyond doubt when he dribbled round the Stutes' defence but saw his shot turned round the post by keeper Joe Welch.
However, what happened in the last 22 minutes may not have been about Grays but about Histon - and this is where credit should go to their management team rather than criticism of Grays.
Steve Fallon and the redoubtable John Beck never stopped thinking about this game and never gave up. They substituted the sub (Erkan Okay). They decided to leave Ishmael Welsh alone and stuck to their belief that get the set pieces and they would get something out of it.
No wonder this group of part-timers are second and in the third round of the FA Cup.
Having said that, the first goal saw a soaring Matthew Langston rise unmarked to head the first goal in. The same poor marking cost the third while the other two were defensive mix-ups.
On a bitter day, it was a bitter disppointment for Grays. They were 22 mins away from leaping three more places in the table but found that they were now back third from bottom.
The good news was that, whereas after the first game of the year when they lost 4-1 and the manager put the blame squarely with the players, Wayne Burnett stated that “we lost”.
Grays and their fans have to believe that the right eleven players that have started the games will see them survive. Some of the players such as Scott Forrester and Luke Hickie are not Blue Square Premier players but they work as a unit.
2009 will bring a set of challenges and opportunities for Grays. Survival for one and a new home for another. They have to improve their branding in the Thurrock community. They have stiff competition with Chelsea.
Being a reporter, it's never a dull moment. Thank you to all the fans who read our reports and watch the films. In a recession a new company such as YourThurrock is very grateful for your support.
Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to Your Thurrock for the match report