Former Everton star Danny Cadamateri made his Grays debut in Saturday's stalemate with York City at the New Rec.
Cadamateri, who has just returned from a six month drug ban imposed on him by former club Bradford City, has joined Blues on a week-to-week deal as he looks to return to match fitness and help Grays boss Andy King out at the same time.
"It suits all parties really," he said. "I need to get as many 90 minutes under my belt as soon as possible after six months out. Grays are short at strikers at the moment, Andy King got in contact and I jumped at the opportunity to come and play football again.
"I've got no idea how long I will be here. I'm playing it by ear and just trying to get as many games as I can wherever I can."
The reality is that Cadamateri - who once scored the winner as a teenager in a Merseyside derby - is unlikely to be at the New Rec for too long as he clearly is talented enough to join a club in a higher division.
Although lacking in match fitness, he showed enough against York to show he is a class apart at Conference level with his touch and vision shining out like a beacon in a Grays side that, without Michael Kightly and Aaron McLean, is short of creative sparks.
The ex-Toffee started the game brightly and almost laid a goal on a plate for the recalled Ashley Nicholls in the ninth minute when, after escaping down the right, he rolled the ball across goal only for Anthony Lloyd to make a crucial interception.
York had the ball in the net three minutes later but scorer Craig Farrell's celebrations were short-lived as the linesman had his flag raised much to the relief of Charlie Comyn-Platt whose poor clearance had put the hosts in trouble.
Grays were let off the hook again minutes later when Steve Bowey blazed horribly over after good work from Clayton Donaldson on the left put Blues on the back foot.
At the other end, Cadamateri forced a smart stop out of Tom Evans when he collected Justin Richards's lay-off and dug out an instinctive shot that was palmed over by the York custodian.
Evans's opposite number, Ashley Bayes, was then forced into action to deny Neal Bishop who raced clear after another weak clearance from Comyn-Platt.
York continued to press but were almost hit by a rapier-like counter attack instigated by Stuart Thurgood who set Richards free on the left.
The ex-Woking hot-shot cut inside on to his right foot and tried to bend the ball into the far corner but a deflection from Jason Goodliffe carried his effort agonisingly past the far post.
The Minstermen recovered to dominate the final five minutes of the first half and were desperately unlucky not to have gone in ahead at the interval.
Farrell forced Bayes into a sprawling save at his near post and then hit the base of a post with a wonderful effort from 25 yards.
Substitute Darryn Stamp, who came on for Martyn Woolford in the 33rd minute, then dragged a shot wide after Bishop's foraging right wing run.
Grays boss Andy King brought on Sheku Kamara for the injured Jay Smith for the second half and switched his side to a 3-5-2 formation.
The change boosted Blues who started the half strongly and almost went ahead when Andy Sambrook's cross found Cadamateri alone at the back post but his stooping header was blocked by Evans.
York responded with a spell of pressure of their own and Jason Goodliffe probably should have done better when he headed a Bishop corner tamely wide.
Bowey then shanked a shot wide for the visitors after a give and go with Donaldson and Stamp's shot on the turn also left Bayes untroubled following a wicked cross from Anthony Lloyd.
The game finished with a whirlwind final ten minutes that began with Grays frantically appealing for a penalty after a prostrate David McGurk looked to have blocked the ball with his hand as Cadamateri burst through.
Comyn-Platt then headed a great chance over for Blues after Tom Williamson's terrific cross.
But it was York who finished the stronger. Bishop forced Bayes into making the save of the game with a wonderful curling effort from the edge of the box that seemed destined for the top corner.
Bowey's ensuing corner then dramatically clipped the bar and eventually fell for Stamp who bundled the ball home only for York to be controversially denied by a linesman's flag for the second time with Bowey's kick deemed to have drifted out of play.
Grays manager Andy King was content with a point and admits his transitional side are a bit shot-shy at the moment.
King said: "We are a bit short at the moment, things are not happening for us. We are picking up a number of injuries and we are lacking a bit in the final third of games "It's not something you want to go on about but we have lost Aaron McLean and Michael Kightly who scored a lot of goals. That's a fact.
"I can see an improvement in the side again and there were a lot of positives. We are in a bit of transition and we need to rebuild a bit but I don't think we are far short of where the club was. We are just looking a bit shot-shy."
On Cadamateri's debut, King added: "Danny will get better and better as he gets games, I just need to persuade him to stay. He showed a lot of quality today. It's doubly hard for him because he is a name but he worked his socks off."
By Ryan Goad
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report.