05.08.2006 @ 15:00 Priory Lane Stadium
4 - 2
GRAYS rounded off their eventful pre-season in disappointing fashion with a ragged defeat at the hands of Conference South outfit Eastbourne Borough.
It was hard to judge whether Grays were that poor or Eastbourne that good but one thing is a certainty, with less than a week to go until the season opener, Blues are going to have to improve.
Boss Frank Gray and assistant Gerry Murphy were clearly not happy with the performance and the whole squad were kept on the field for an hour afterwards as the pair ran the riot act.
Gray remains positive, however, and is glad to have got such a performance out of the way before the season starts for real.
He said: "We are still looking at couple of things. It would have been nice to win but it's not important at this stage of the season. It's important we get things right for Saturday when we start.
"I had a situation at Farnborough last year where we won every single pre-season game but first game of the season we got beat 6-2. So it's about preparation rather than results right now.
"I'm looking for a better performance in certain areas but we will be working on it in week and I'm sure on Saturday, with points at stake, you will see a different attitude."
With Stuart Thurgood's injury and Ashley Sestanovich's sacking, Gray admits his first pre-season in charge has not been a smooth ride, but insists he is still fairly happy.
"There have been lots of plusses and a few things I wouldn't to have liked happened but we've got nothing to be despondent about. We've got a good group of boys here, good players and our aim is to finish the season as high as possible starting with Stafford."
Gray fielded a line-up that, with possibly one or two exceptions, you would expect to see take the field at the New Rec on Saturday.
Nathan Moulds, who will sign a permanent contract this week, partnered Jamie Stuart at the back and Dwaine Lee was given another run-out in the centre of the park but looked way off match-sharpness.
Ex-Canvey Island striker Allan Tait capitalised on a mistake by Lee to run half the length of the pitch and fire past Ashley Bayes to open the scoring but his former Gulls' team-mate Lee Boylan levelled things up with a clinical finish after good work from Andy Sambrook.
Left back Adam Green, another who looked off the pace, then felled Scott Ramsay in the box and the Boro centre forward converted the penalty himself.
Ramsay got his second ten minutes after the re-start when he drilled home from the edge of the box after some hesitant Blues defending and he could have had a hat-trick had it not been for Bayes.
Grays rallied with Michael Kightly twice going close before Boylan got his second from the edge of the box.
Blues' new number nine had a couple of chances to chalk up his hat-trick but couldn't convert before Boro countered and following another Green mistake, Victor Dolista bagged the fourth.
Grays: Bayes, Sambrook, Moulds, Stuart, Green, Kightly, Lee, Martin, Poole, Boylan, McLean.
By Ryan Goad
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report.