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31.03.2007 @ 15:00 The Recreation Ground Crowd: 801
Grays Athletic 1 - 0 Halifax Town
Referee: D Cann Conference National-Match

Aaron O'Connor (66)
Starting Line-ups
Danny Knowles
Andy Sambrook
Jamie Stuart
Simon Downer
Anthony Tonkin
John Martin
Ashley Nicholls
Stuart Thurgood
Dennis Oli
Aaron O'Connor
Leroy Griffiths
Craig Mawson
Steven Haslam
Ryan Cresswell
Greg Strong
Jake Wright
Thomas Kearney
Chris Billy
Tyrone Thompson
Steve Torpey
Danny Forrest
Darryn Stamp
Ashley Bayes
Anthony Barness
Ben Harding
Dean Howell
Alex Rhodes
Adam Quinn
Gus Uhlenbeek
Lewis Killeen
Andy Campbell
Matt Doughty
Alex Rhodes -> Leroy Griffiths (81)
Ben Harding -> John Martin (89)
Lewis Killeen -> Steve Torpey (53)
Andy Campbell -> Chris Billy (73)
Matt Doughty -> Greg Strong (86)
Yellow cards
Simon Downer (90)
Chris Billy (47)
Thomas Kearney (84)
Red cards
None None
Match report |
A 65th minute strike by Aaron O'Connor was enough to lift Grays out of the relegation zone as Justin Edinburgh's men edged out fellow strugglers Halifax at the New Rec.

In windy conditions, Grays set out from the beginning to show that the gritty draws that Edinburgh's men were ekeing out earlier in the year are now becoming deserved three pointers.

The Blues started off with the confidence that tuesdays win had instilled. The team played with a fluent tempo and it became immediately apparent that Halifax's experienced central defenders, Cresswell and Strong were in for a torrid afternoon.

Dennis Oli was in typical bustling form.A 7th minute shot left the keeper untroubled. But with Thurgood continuing to whip in corners and early balls coming thick and fast, Halifax's defence looked increasingly brittle.

What perhaps illustrated the tremendous team spirit and work ethic in the blues was displayed in the 26th minute as Leroy Griffith tracked back 50 yards to ensure an opposition attack was snuffed out.

With a largely anonymous midfield, it was down to the Shayman's lanky striker, Darryn Stamp to threaten the Blues defence. In the 29th minute, he played a smart one-two on the right hand side before unleashing a shot which the increasingly impressive Simon Downer headed off the line.

The last five minutes of the half saw Grays increasingly pressurise Halifax as they hunted in packs to snuff out and frustrate the struggling yorkshire side.

In the second half, Halifax picked up the tempo. Thompson and Billy started to figure slightly more. As the hour passed a neat move involving Stamp, Kearney and Billy saw a shot over the bar, but showed that Halifax were determined to stem the tide of away defeats and draws.

But they hadn't figured on the golden touch of Aaron O'Connor.In the 65th minute, keeper Danny Knowles used the wind to produce a long ball that O'Connor controlled. He lost his close marker Haslam to break free and shoot just inside the area and past keeper Mawson.

The final 15 minutes showed why Edinburgh has placed faith in Danny Knowles as he produced some outstanding saves to ensure Grays grasped the precious three points.

Halifax's first corner in the 70th minute produced a vital palm away whilst in the 77th, the Shaymen's move of the match from a Wright free kick saw a point blank shot from 5 yards by Stamp saved by Knowles.

Grays continued to work at the second goal but found chances hard to come by.But as the game drew to a close, this became a holding out operation, which Grays have become adept at. Martin,Thurgood and Nicholls continued to work incredibly hard whilst the partnership of Stuart and Downer looked increasingly cohesive.

After the whistle, Justin Edinburgh was rightly proud of his team.

He said: "Firstly I am delighted with the three points but I am also pleased that we have kept a clean sheet. I am very pleased for Danny Knowles. He made a series of tremendous saves, while at the other end,Aaron goes from strength to strength.

Edinburgh was pleased with the teams approach to the game. He said: "We have always said that our destiny is in our own hands. We go on to Forest Green retaining that mindset."

By Michael Casey
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report