Ashton sees red as Grays pay the penalty again
Grays Athletic's underwhelming start to the season continued as they slumped to another away defeat against Salisbury City, conceding a penalty, losing a player and then missing their own spot kick chance to equalise.
Grays held their own in the first half as the team seemed keen to eke out a point. In the sixth minute, Jon Ashton cut out a dangerous ball from Matthew Tubbs while the midfield stifled much of the creativity from the Salisbury midfield.
In the 21st minute, the energetic Danny Kedwell saw a glancing header skim over the bar and a minute later Charlie Ide, taking his chance in the absence of Jamie Taylor, saw a weak shot easily saved by Salisbury keeper Bittner.
It was good to see Ross Flitney back in goal and he did well to save smartly from a shot by Liam Feeney. The team's stoic display continued in the second half and it started to appear that both teams were starting to cancel each other out.
But all that changed in the 53rd minute. Tubbs broke through, Ashton intercepted but took his man. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and reaching for his red card. Tubbs took his chance and put the penalty away for Salisbury.
Manager Mike Woodward immediately rang the changes. Fabian Wilnis and Stuart Thurgood came on in what could be a significant moment for the shape of the team and Wilnis brought an authority to the ten man team.
Grays didn’t give up and when Kedwell was fouled in the box it looked like a gilt-edged chance for an equaliser but as at Kettering, Danny Kedwell lamely stroked the ball to the keeper’s right who easily saved.
The match petered out as Salisbury’s long ball game and stifling tactics secured the three points.
Boss Woodward said: “It is disappointing. We didn’t take our chances but there were positives. Our passing game came back in the second half and it was good to see Fabian and Stuart bring an authority to the team. We’ll bounce back on Monday.” That's when Eastbourne, who have just three points so far, visit the New Rec, kick-off 3pm.
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report