Mark Stimson’s Grays beat a track back to the top of the Nationwide South table on Saturday.
They returned to top spot off the back of a heat-affected draw which sapped the energy of both sides. Blues faded after a bright start in which they had threatened to overrun the visitors.
Again it was Freddy Eastwood who was on the spot to score Grays’ only goal. Blues were awarded a penalty less than two minutes in. Mitchell Cole had been brought down inside the box and Eastwood converted the spot-kick.
Attacking from both flanks, Stuart Tuck produced an excellent tackle in the box to deny Eastwood a second chance and Dean Brennan sent a 25-yard free-kick curling narrowly wide of Lee Hook’s left-hand post.
Grays star striker Leroy Griffiths and Martin Carthy both pushed the Eastbourne defence hard. Despite the efforts of Blues, they struggled to deal with pressure from Borough, and they succumbed in the 37th minute. Harris’ conjured up a long throw from the right touchline, and Matt Crabb whizzing in from the left hand side drove home the leveller from inside the box.
Their confidence now soaring, Eastbourne tested the Grays youngsters. Keeper Carl Emberson was beaten in the air by Scott Ramsey, but the number nine’s header looped just over.
Blues looked tired and disorganised after the restart, and seeing that drastic action was needed to prevent Borough scoring a second, Stimson took off local favourites Eastwood and Griffiths and put on John Nutter and Vill Powell.
The newcomers made a difference, but so did Cole who came close to nabbing three points when he nearly beat keeper Lee Hook.
Despite what will be seen by many as a below-par Grays performance Blues return to the top of the table, but must travel to Cambridge tomorrow, and Carshalton on Monday.
Thanks to The Thurrock Gazette for the report.