Grays stood proudly at the top of the Conference South after a stunning victory at Margate on Tuesday night after a match that started in bizarre fashion when both teams took to the pitch wearing a similar strip.
As the match started, it quickly became clear that while it was possible to tell the teams apart when they were all in their own halves of the pitch, it was almost impossible to do so as they battled for the ball. So within two minutes of the start, the referee stopped the games and asked Grays to change their shirts.
Margate started the game brightly but as the half progressed, Grays began to dominate possession and on 25 minutes, a long ball forward found Liam George on Grays’ right. He turned his defender and took the ball round Ward, and just as it looked likely to drift out for a goal-kick for the home side, he slotted the ball into the Margate net from an acute angle to the visitors the lead.
While Grays deserved their one goal lead, there was nothing in the first half that suggested the capitulation that was to follow. But the early signals were there as the Margate defenders struggled to clear the ball before conceding a corner to the visitors. The corner was swung in from the Grays right and the ball headed for the opposite corner of Ward’s goal, but the keeper stretched to push the ball away for another corner.
A few moments later, Grays doubled their advantage when a move down the left-hand side concluded with an effort slotted in low under Ward’s body. Shortly afterwards the lead was three, when a lovely cross from left to right was headed in superbly by Martin Carthy.
Things got progressively worse for the home side as an innocuous looking piece of possession on the edge of the area ended when substitute Freddy Eastwood fired in an effort under Ward’s body.
Margate’s resolve had all but disappeared as the half wore on and further long-range efforts from Vill Powell and a spectacular shot into the far corner from 20 yards from Eastwood concluded the scoring.
On Saturday Grays will be looking to carry on where they left off with another trip to the seaside. However they are likely to find things a lot harder against Steve Claridge’s Weymouth.
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report.