Deadly Eastwood shoots down Town
Blue skies and soaring temperatures signalled Grays’ away victory over Billericay on Saturday in a match which boss Mark Stimson knew his boys needed to win in the scramble to maintain or even further their lofty Ryman Premier place.
Playing away from home, the borough side is in a finishing positions race with Thurrock, Carshalton and Hornchurch and is only too aware that Thurrock have a game in hand. Dropping points on Saturday would have allowed bitter rivals Thurrock to leap-frog them.
In the end the encounter was turned again by Grays’ man-of-the-moment Freddy Eastwood, the 19-year-old marksman who is amongst the most talented players in the Ryman top-flights at present.
The former West Ham striker – the subject of much rumour following revelations he has been training at Charlton – may return to the South London club when the season is over.
But it is understood that Stimson, who has already proved himself to be adept at spotting and bringing on young talent, would want any move to be right for both Grays & Eastwood.
There are those who having watched the talents of Eastwood for the last few months cannot understand why Hammers let the teenage slip through their fingers in the first place.
Still, West Ham’s loss has been Blues’ gain all season. It’s true that many of the youngster’s goals have been made by Leroy Griffiths and Stuart Thurgood.
And this was again true at Town at the weekend.
Eastwood’s strike came just before the break following a class build up from Thurgood and fellow Hammers trainee Griffiths. The pair’s slick performance allowed Eastwood a slot-in past Luke Weaver to decide the match before the half-way point.
Billericay had threatened, with chances from Graeme Tomlinson who tried to beat Blues keeper Mel Capleton with a couple of shots, the first a long ranger. Danny Hockton also tested Capleton who was equal to the task.
When Billericay lost defender Pat Sappleton and striker KK Opara to injury, Stimmo’s men should have widened their advantage. Ellis Remy who has promised a great deal in recent matches came close in the final stages of the match but could not convert.
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report