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03.11.2007 @ 15:00 The Raymond McEnhill Stadium Crowd: 1226
Salisbury City 0 - 1 Grays Athletic
Referee: J Farries Conference National-Match

None Jamie Day (7)
Starting Line-ups
Ryan Clarke
Andrew Sandell
Aaron Cook
Jon Beswetherick
Scott Bartlett
Matthew Robinson
Wayne Turk
Darrell Clarke
Liam Feeney
Robbie Matthews
Matt Tubbs
Ross Flitney
Jamie Stuart
Jon Ashton
Simon Downer
Jack Obersteller
Jamie Day
Karl Murray
Ernie Cooksey
Dennis Oli
Aaron O'Connor
Danny Kedwell
Martin Horsell
Craig Richards
Danny Clay
Marvin Brown
Luk Prince
Danny Knowles
Adam Gross
Charley Hearn
Ben Watson
Gavin Grant
Danny Clay -> Liam Feeney (68)
Marvin Brown -> Matt Tubbs (68)
Ben Watson -> Dennis Oli (71)
Yellow cards
None Danny Kedwell (51)
Simon Downer (64)
Aaron O'Connor (89)
Red cards
None None
Match report |
A fantastic sixth-minute strike by Jamie Day on his first full run out of the season gave Grays three points as they continue to rise back up the Blue Square table.

Newly-promoted Salisbury had an excellent start to the season but the wheels have truly come off as they have now failed to register a win in their last nine games.

But they had nothing to be ashamed of in not being able to dent Grays' defence which is best away performer in the league.

Once again Jamie Stuart and Jon Ashton quietly but effectively were impenetrable. Jack Obersteller was promising and Simon Downer was, once again like an old gunslinger, using every ounce of wit, guile and on one occasion both feet to subdue the Salisbury attackers.

Grays lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Ernie Cooksey, Karl Murray and Day in the middle. From the outset they looked busy, making challenges, meeting headers and creating space and movement for the team.

advertisementIn the sixth minute Murray moved the ball out to the right. The ball crossed the area and Aaron O'Connor met it and shielded it. Murray went looking again and saw Day unmarked, 25 yards out.

Day picked his spot and with his sweet right foot rocketed it past Salisbury's keeper Clarke.

The goal naturally gave the team the confidence to play the passing game they had played for the first 20 minutes on Wednesday. Each player was only to keen to get the other involved.

Salisbury couldn't really be criticised as Grays were very hard to mark. The front three kept fluid with O'Connor and Denni Oli swopping sides and Murray joining the attack on every occasion.

Salisbury did fail to spot the gap in front of Downer that Lewes exploited but seemed to have just one real plan. Hoof it up to towering Matthews and see what happens.

But every time they hit the ball up in the air it was a Grays player who got there first. Day and Cooksey didn't do anything particularly outstanding but it was the fact that they got to the ball first time every time that wore down Salisbury.

In the ninth minute, Murray played a fine through ball to Kedwell who showed a deft piece of skill to spin and pass but the ball went just wide.

The next minute, Salisbury launched an attack.

The cross into the area was cut out by a strong header from Danny Kedwell.

This was a real team effort but special mention must go to Kedwell.

On the day he signed he said he wanted to go full time to test himself, to see if he could cut it.

Last Saturday as he struggled to get into the game and was roundly barracked by his own fans lesser men would have slipped into the shadows But Kedwell's performance was a lesson to fans, younger players and critics alike. From whistle to whistle he chased down, he harried, he headed and got to every first ball. He looked to lay off to colleagues and he looked for opportunities to score.

It meant so much to the fans and it meant so much to him. A consummate professional performance.

Salisbury nearly equalised in the 12th minute when a wicked cross into the day was headed goal ward by Turk but it was met by a wonderful reaction save from Ross Flitney.

Danny Knowles had done nothing wrong in the last four games but it was good to see Ross back and he put in a note perfect authoritative performance.

It was also good to hear Justin Edinburgh in such voluble, tetchy form. Berating officials, guiding the team with incisive advice. This was no eleven thrown together. There was a professional plan at play here and it was Justin who was pulling the strings.

Oli and Kedwell were continuing to win the knock downs. In the 14th minute, O'Connor should have done better with a through ball. Indeed O'Connor looked ill at ease with the formation. He likes the simple strategy of playing up front with one partner knocking it down. This was all a bit of a struggle for him and the confidence seeped from him.

Salisbury came back into the game as the half progressed but there free kicks and corners suffered from woefully unimaginative execution while Grays developed positive partnerships and triangles all over the pitch.

In the 23rd minute Murray produced a lovely run across the line but was just offside. A minute later Salisbury's Matthews' rasping shot was well parried down by Flitney.

By half time, Grays lead still seemed brittle but you could see that the team knew that the three points were so very important.

Kedwell again appeared to be everywhere. There wasn't a moment when he didn't link up with a colleague in both attack and defence.

On the downside, too many mistakes by Oli kept putting pressure back on the defence.

In the 32nd minute Murray's header went wide after some great inter linking play As the half time whistle blew, Kedwell high-fived many of his colleagues.

This was a player so motivated, so zoned and such a beacon for the team.

And he was soon back in the action on the restart. The second half began with a 46th minute free kick for Salisbury cleared by the man of the moment.

The next attack saw Murray trying to set a static O'Connor with a through ball. It was good to see Murray getting so upset at his lack of dynamism. Murray has real leadership qualities that should be nurtured.

The only black mark on Kedwell's day came with a mistimed challenge when chasing down that received a booking.

In the 53rd minute an Oli overhead kick went narrowly wide, which received rapturous applause by the loyal vocal travelling support who also applauded every move by Kedwell, appreciating that this was a man putting in a virtuoso performance in blue.

Salisbury started to pressurise especially down the left. In the 57th minute a timely interception from Downer put paid to one raid but in the 63rd he went in with both feet and saw yellow.

The midfield three continued to create a wall in front of the four, who majestically met every challenge and rode every storm.

In the 69th minute Oli put Kedwell through. He rampaged down the right, put in an excellent cross but there was no-one to meet it - Grays were now playing the percentages rather than going for the kill.

Ben Watson came on for Oli and produced a dynamism and sharpness on the right hand side. In the 75th and 78th minutes he earned free kicks which although came to nothing but bought precious time and territory.

As the clock counted down Salisbury players became at odds with each other as the realisation dawned that another game was slipping away.

Kedwell never stopped. In the 85th minute he hunted down a Salisbury defender who then sliced a clearance to give Grays a throw.

With last Saturday's late equaliser in mind, injury time saw Salisbury pile on the pressure and in the 93rd minute following an Ashton foul, sub Clay's free kick just flew past Flitney's post.

As the full time whistle went it was Kedwell who immediately acknowledged the fans. He was followed by every other player.

Each player was met by chairman Mick Woodward as he showed his joy at the result.

There was something special about this away performance. It was unlike the dogged draw at Halifax or the insipid victory against fated Stafford.

This performance had a plan and the players and manager stepped up to the plate. Sure, it wasn't vintage but football is more than that. It's about planning, direction, sweat and commitment.

Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report