Grays ‘usual suspects’ Freddy Eastwood & Leroy Griffiths helped Blues maintain their unbeaten League record, despite a hard clash against a quality Bishop’s Stortford side on Tuesday. The win positions manager Mark Stimson’s boys in second place in the Nationwide Conference South.
Former Grays striker Dave Rainford had put Bishop’s Stortford ahead as 60-second snoozers Grays were caught off guard at the start.
Keeper Carl Emberson was given little chance as his defence let him down allowing Rainford – who will be remembered by Blues supporters from the Craig Edwards managerial era – to nod home a ball which should have been cut out.
To Grays’ credit the team came back, but they had to wait until the 15th minute before drawing level. The diminutive Mitchell Cole proved his worth collecting the ball and sending Griffiths on his way. Griffiths unselfishly spotted Eastwood’s positional advantage and slipped the ball square for the former Hammer to punish Stortford with one his trademark net-shredding drives.
Stortford were un-phased by the loss of their advantage and were definitely no pushover on home territory.
Too often their chances came from turn-arounds caused by the Blues attack over-reaching, which allowed ferocious counter attacks and a bagful of second half corners. Former Shrimpers keeper Emberson was too often pressed into play.
In the end it was Leroy Griffiths who stole the winner in the 50th minutes. A long high ball allowed Griffiths the chance to read the bounce, beat a luckless defender and give the visitors the advantage.
The story of the match will come as sweet news to Stimson who is known to have big hopes for Grays this season. Mitchell Cole continues to impress every time he touches the ball and most Blues fans still have to see the best of John Nutter who came on as sub on Tuesday.
With a long season ahead Grays will need plenty of squad members as the colder weather and injuries take their toll. Bald-headed stalwart Eddie Youds is the team’s rock and on-pitch motivator. His vocal and physical strength is essential to Grays’ young, skilful but relatively inexperienced side.
Thanks to The Thurrock Gazette for the report.