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29.09.2007 @ 15:00 The Recreation Ground Crowd: 1460
Grays Athletic 0 - 2 Stevenage Borough
Referee: A Halliday (West Yorks) Conference National-Match

None Steve Morison (32)
Mark Arber (pen, 80)
Starting Line-ups
Ross Flitney
Andy Sambrook
Jon Ashton
Karl Murray
Charley Hearn
Ernie Cooksey
Stuart Thurgood
Dennis Oli
Danny Kedwell
Gavin Grant
James Lawson
Alan Julian
Mark Arber
Ronnie Henry
Santos Gaia
Barry Fuller
Craig Dobson
Mark Molesley
Daryl McMahon
Mitchell Cole
Adam Miller
Steve Morison
Danny Knowles
Jack Haverson
Mark Marshall
Aaron O'Connor
Craig McAllister
Lawrie Wilson
James Russell
Jack Bradshaw
Tes Bramble
Jerome Anderson
Jack Haverson -> Charley Hearn (46)
Mark Marshall -> James Lawson (59)
Aaron O'Connor -> Gavin Grant (70)
Tes Bramble -> Adam Miller (47)
Jerome Anderson -> Steve Morrison (86)
Yellow cards
Dennis Oli (37)
Charley Hearn (44)
Jack Haverson (72)
Adam Miller (37)
Daryl McMahon (45)
Red cards
None None
Match report | | Preview

Andy Sambrook with ex-Blue Adam Miller
Pictures from the match
Grays wretched home form continued as they slumped to yet another defeat - this time at the hands of former boss Mark Stimson's title-chasing Stevenage side.

It is now five games without a win and 472 long minutes without at goal at the New Rec for Blues leaving boss Justin Edinburgh perplexed.

"We have been defeated at home again and that is not acceptable to me or to the fans," he said. "Our first half showing today was probably the most lacklustre performance I have seen since I have been here.

"We were not good enough and a few home-truths were said at half time."We were poor in possession of the football. We have got the players to keep the ball and create but we didn't show that.

"In the second half I thought we were better but we didn't take our chances."

Edinburgh's honest analysis pretty much summed the game up: Grays were truly awful in the first half.

It is easy to recall the glory days of the club's first season in the Conference whenever Stimson returns as his new side mirrors the Grays of old.

They are a close-knit squad who work hard for each other and have, in Steve Morison, a striker who will score 20 plus goals a season.

Grays played with no spirit or drive in the first half which, given they were up against a side who are tipped to win the league and their former manager, you have to find surprising.

The game passed Charley Hearn by in the middle of the park and a patch-work defence looked far from secure.

To be fair to Edinburgh he was quick to change it and pushing Karl Murray into the midfield for the second 45 minutes injected some much-needed urgency.

Blues were the better side for the second period and chances were created but yet again those opportunities were spurned.

Danny Kedwell was the chief offender, missing one gilt-edged header and another, more difficult, volley.

"If we weren't creating chances I would start to question things," said Edinburgh. "But we certainly had enough chances to have got something from the game."

Edinburgh gambled by opting to start Andy Sambrook alongside John Ashton in the centre of the defence pushing Murray to right back.

With Murray and left back Ernie Cooksey midfielders by trade it was a risk and the early signs were not good as Stevenage's fluid forward movement tore the back four wide open.

Ex-Blue Mitchell Cole collected the ball in space on the left and struck a fierce drive that was pushed away by Ross Flitney in the opening two minutes and Craig Dobson blazed wildly over after being left unmarked in the box.

At the other end, Dennis Oli nearly embarrassed Alan Julian with a driven shot from 25 yards that the Stevenage stopper flapped at and watched, heart in mouth, as it landed on the roof of the net.

Oli next turned provider, supplying Gavin Grant whose cross picked out James Lawson but he stabbed wide under pressure from Barry Fuller.

But, just as Grays looked to be finding their way back into the game, they gifted Stevenage goal.

Cooksey's costly dally on the ball let in Steve Morison who slotted with aplomb past Flitney.

Edinburgh shuffled his pack for the re-start with Jack Haverson replacing Hearn and slotting in alongside Ashton.

Murray was moved into midfield and Sambrook to a more familiar right back position.

Murray brought some much-needed tempo to the Grays midfield in a much-improved second half showing.

Kedwell should have equalised but headed wide from six yards after a wonderful cross from Oli and then so nearly set up Grant for a tap in but his cross was just too heavy for his strike partner.

The hosts continued to press but some solid defending from the Stevenage backline and particularly from full back Barry Fuller snuffed out most what Blues could throw at them.

The one gilt-edged chance they carved out for themselves in the second period came right out of the route-one manual of football.

Flitney's huge clearance forward found Kedwell alone in the box and the big striker's volley forced a smart save out of Julian.

A minute later and the game was over.

Dobson wriggled free of Haverson in the box and was pulled back by the young centre half as he headed for the by-line.

It was a stick-on penalty for which Haverson was lucky, having already been booked, not to have collected a second yellow card.

Mark Arber stepped up from the spot to seal the win and give Stimson his fifth win in five against his former club.

Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report