With Chairman Mick Woodward back in the stands and new boss Tim O’Shea installed, Grays got back to winning ways defeating Wrexham 2-1 at the New Rec.
In the 1st minute, winger Ishmael Welsh twisted and turned Simon Spender before shooting just wide.
New boys Sean Rigg and especially Kieron St Aimie were linking up well, looking for players and opportunities. It soon became clear that Grays were playing as well as they had at games such as Mansfield: the difference now was that there was someone in the box, St Aimie was very very impressive. Players often are on their debut and some players can flatter in one game and then deceive us for the rest but this young man looked a class apart.
Wilnis was a different player in the centre, Jamie Stuart was imperious, Stuart Thurgood was outstanding, forcing the Dragons back and back while Molelsey and Welsh really really benefitted from Rigg and St Aimie. Rumours that Stuart Elliott is to be Amir Khan's new coach have yet to be confirmed.
Wrexham were fast and furious when what was needed was someone putting their foot on the ball, controlling the game.
Chris Tremarco showed flashes. In the 12th minute he jinked past ex-Wrexham midfielder Stuart Elliott and drew the foul. Unfortunately Neil Taylor’s free kick went straight at Tottenham loanee David Button.
Wrexham’s best chance of the half came in the 27th minute when Spender and Simon Brown played a neat 1-2 outside the Grays box before Brown sent over a cross which saw Shaun Whalley leap up to meet. His looping header just brushed the top of the bar.
Grays opened the scoring when keeper Button, saw the chance to project a long ball forward. St Aimie got behind Steve Evans, controlled the ball with his left, checked the keepers position, switched feet and neatly curled the ball around Gavin Ward to put the Essex side in front.
Kieron St Aimie looked a cut above everyone on the park and one wondered how one-point Barnet could afford the luxury of sending him out on loan. To prove the point just before half time, he latched on to a throw from Rob Gier, brought it down beautifully and without panicking, placed the ball beyond Gavin Ward to send the Blues into raptures.
With mid table obscurity beckoning, Wrexham came out of the blocks in the second half. In the 48th minute, Steve Evans was fouled outside the box. Levi Mackin produced a thundering free kick that not even the impressive Button could get a finger to. Wrexham were back in it and Grays had a fight on their hands.
The game took off and what it lacked for in quality as the ball pinballed around the park, it made up for in excitement and tension. Unfortunately for all the sound and fury, Wrexham could not carve out decent opportunity.
Substitutions came and the formation changed to 4-3-3 but each half chance tapered out with disappointing final balls or silly fouls by the Wrexham midfield. Shaun Whalley had a fair shout for a penalty in the 70th but as Louis and Mackin were easily shepherded by the veteran Fabian Wilnis, time was running out.
Wrexham corners came thick and fast in the final minutes but once again, Button, surely a future international was equal to the task, especially his fine save from a Louis header in injury time.
As referee Mr Melin blew the final whistle, exhausted and dispirited Wrexham players slumped to the ground. On getting up, they trudged off to the changing rooms. To add insult to injury they failed to acknowledge their angry and upset fans who stayed on after the whistle to signal their discontent with the Wrexham management.
The energy levels in the Grays team never dipped. There was a real buzz now that the demarcation lines had been redrawn. It was noticeable that there was a real duty parade among the coaching staff with the fitness coach and a youth coach all on the bench. There was tremendous singing from the terraces, young voices shouting encouragement from the terraces and the round of applause for St Aimie and the cheers after the win signalled a tremendous affection and enthusiasm for Grays Athletic. It was something that the new boss noticed and thanked the fans their support.
The group huddle after the match and the infectious lunacy of Sloma and Thurgood really indicated that the feel-good factor is back at the club.
As Tim O'Shea said. This was one victory and there is much to be done. Wrexham are leaking (no pun intended) goals at the moment and there is real consternation in the Welsh press that the team that once beat Arsenal is now sleep walking its way down to the Conference South quicker than you can say Boreda.
Tim O'Shea is obviously one of the games thinkers and a modest man. This will be an interesting one. Grays fans cannot wait until Thursday night under the lights of Setanta when they take on a resurgent Stevenage.
Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to Your Thurrock for the match report