Grays Athletic gained their first three points of the season with a hard fought 1-0 victory against Eastbourne Borough.
A good early challenge from George Beavan settled him down on his return to the New Rec but not as good as a fine last ditch tackle by Gavin Hoyte dispossessing Liam Envermarum in the 6th minute.
The first chance came in the 7th minute when Envermarum found himself free in the area but he shot weakly at Preston Edwards.
Jamie Taylor made his first impression in the 9th with a fine run down the right passing across to Smart who just couldn’t control it in the box.
Terry and Bull continued to struggle to make any impression in a blue shirt but fellow midfielder Richard Graham opened the scoring in the 16th minute when a cross from Braham-Barrett was snatched at by the Borough defenders and Graham came steaming in to score.
Graham could have made it two, when a neat move stemming from the hard working Charge saw Terry chest it to Graham but his shot went wide.
Hoyte’s consummate defensive skills were anchoring the team although Borough just couldn’t find a cutting edge.
On the left flank, Braham-Barrett and Charge were turning Borough inside and out.
Preston Edwards was adjudged to have a handled outside the box in the 33rd minute and received a yellow. Matt Crabb’s free kick was played square but charged down by Kenny Davis.
Grays had no clear chances for the rest of the half but Gary Phillips would have been pleased with the pace and passing prowess and purpose of the Blues.
Borough however looked like they were also starting to open Grays up.
In the second half, Grays immediately had a chance when Graham seized on a loose ball in the box but could only find the keeper.
Three minutes later Charge sprayed the ball over to Dos Santos who got to the dead ball line but couldnt find a blue shirt with his cross.
Dos Santos did well again in the 54th minute but his close control was letting him down.
A trademark Jamie Taylor run saw him break free from the Grays defence but his shot was parried away by Edwards for a corner. If Borough were to equalise they were going to need more bite.
Paul Terry limped off giving Tom Harvey his debut. The game started to peter out until Charge and Dos Santos once again combined to go close but worryingly as Borough countered Graham and Dos Santos sauntered back.
Grays were now under the cosh as Borough cut through and only timely work by Hoyte and Mawer was keeping the opposition at bay.
Grays should have made it two when Gavin Hoyte hit the bar in the 72nd minute with a header from a fine free kick by Richard Graham.
Borough continued to pressurise but they could not find the killer ball no matter how many unforced errors Grays made.
Grays mustered an attack which led to a foul on Dos Santos. His free kick rocketed past the wall and Danny Knowles did well to punch the ball away.
Grays will have been pleased with the three points. It was fortress Grays last year and it has to be the same again this year.
The defence were fantastic and with George Beavan now in place they looked like a real unit.
Once again Slabber put in a real shift as did the promising and willing Charge.
The midfield however have to be a worry. Ronnie Bull has looked out of his depth in every single game and once again like Terry doesn’t convince that he is totally fit.
Gary Phillips asks the fans to be patient as the team is a work in progress but they really need to grasp the nettle of the midfield before a team steamroller them. This may mean upsetting Capt Bull and Terry (his injury may assist them there).
Dos Santos possession was poor and Graham, took the goal well but again never looks capable of passing a player.
With new players coming in it looks like players such as out-of-favour Black and Morgan may be on their way out. One wonders if McEvilly will ever play but Rigilioso hopes to be back for saturday.
The team spirit will be high and will look forward to Kidderminster on Saturday.
Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to Your Thurrock for the match report