Grays cling onto Canvey record
Grays may be able to look back at the end of the season with the proud boat of being the only side not beaten by champions elect Canvey in the Ryman Premier this season.
The only other team capable of avoiding being on the losing side to Jeff King’s men this term are Hornchurch who, after a goalless draw at Bridge Avenue in November, come to Park Lane on the final day of the season.
The point gained on the Island last night certainly keeps a Grays side managed by former Gulls’ midfielder Mark Stimson very much in the hunt for runners-up spot.
That position is currently held by Hendon, whose game at Heybridge Swifts was called off due to the host club’s dressing rooms being flooded.
Ironically, on a night when they dropped points at home for the first time since September, Canvey actually increased their lead. They are 21 points ahead of Hendon with a game in hand.
The Park Lane affair proved to a replica result-wise of the meeting between the two sides at Grays last month.
In a hard-fought contest watched by 732 fans, Canvey very much held the upper hand in the opening half.
After hot-shot Lee Boylan had twice been foiled by outstanding saves from visitors’’ former Canvey goalkeeper Mel Capleton, the goal machine put his side ahead with his 46th go the season, latching onto a Jeff Minton ball.
Apart from ex-West Ham wonder kid Freddy Eastwood firing into the side netting, Grays seldom got a look-in during the opening half against a rock-solid home rearguard in which Steve Ward was back against his old club after injury.
Grays then came out determined to take the game to their hosts in the second half and showed their ambitions by introducing a third striker in the shape of Lloyd Opara.
Danny Potter in the home goal did well to hold a snap-shot from Stuart Thurgood, who enjoyed an outstanding game in the visiting midfield. And the stopper had to be at his most alert to snatch the ball from Opara’s feet.
Opara also had a hand in the equaliser, which arrived eight minutes from time. Gulls dithered at the back and the striker set-up on-loan QPR man Wes Daly to score his first goal for the club with a shot that gave Potter no chance.
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report