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24.04.2007 @ 15:00 The Recreation Ground Crowd: 846
Grays Athletic 3 - 0 Kidderminster Harriers
Referee: J Linington (Isle Of Wight) Conference National-Match

Stuart Thurgood (pen) (7)
Simon Downer (43)
Leroy Griffiths (90)
Starting Line-ups
Danny Knowles
Andy Sambrook
Jamie Stuart
Simon Downer
Anthony Tonkin
John Martin
Ashley Nicholls
Stuart Thurgood
Dennis Oli
Aaron O'Connor
Matt Bodkin
Steve Taylor
Jeff Kenna
Stuart Whitehead
Mark Creighton
Jonny Harkness
Jake Sedgemore
Michael McGrath
Simon Russell
Michael Blackwood
James Constable
Iyseden Christie
Ashley Bayes
Anthony Barness
Ben Harding
Alex Rhodes
Leroy Griffiths
Scott Eaton
Neil Howarth
Jon Brady
Luke Reynolds
Gary Hay
Leroy Griffiths -> Dennis Oli (63)
Alex Rhodes -> Matt Bodkin (76)
Anthony Barness -> Simon Downer (85)
Jon Brady -> James Constable (46)
Luke Reynolds -> Iyseden Christie (62)
Gary Hay -> Michael McGrath (75)
Yellow cards
None James Constable (6)
Red cards
None Jonny Harkness (23)
Match report |
Grays Athletic's relegation battle theoretically goes right down to the wire, but they have given themselves a massive chance of avoiding the drop form the Conference with this emphatic victory, rounded off by Leroy Griffiths' late goal.

With relegation rivals Halifax also winning it was imperative that Grays didn't slip up but the win puts four places between them and fourth-from-bottom Altrincham and means that a draw at Morecambe on Saturday will be enough to secure survival.

Even defeat could see them survive as all four teams immediately below them would have to pick up points for Grays to slip back into the drop zone.

However, Grays' trip to Lancashire is undoubtedly the hardest match facing any of the relegation contenders as Altrinchham, Stafford, Cambridge, Halifax and Crawley all have matches against sides with nothing to play for.

Right from the outset Grays set out their stall to be a team too good to go down.

advertisementEarly chances by Dennis Oli and John Martin showed Grays were a yard ahead in thought and movement from a one-paced Kidderminster who clearly had both eyes set on the upcoming FA Trophy final at Wembley.

In the fifth minute a free kick delivered into the box by Stuart Thurgood was met by Simon Downer who was shoved off the ball by James Constable and referee James Linington had no doubt about his decision as he pointed to the spot.

Despite missing his last penalty Thurgood showed nerves of steel and slotted the spot kick neatly way.

That was just the boost Grays needed and for the next 20 minutes they dominated the match with some beautiful one touch football with Thurgood the pivot and Matt Bodkin, who was picked in front of Alex Rhodes, a revelation on the left side.

It was all too much for Kidderminster and their frustration boiled over on 23 minutes when Jonny Harkness raised an elbow to Andy Sambrook and was sent off for violent conduct, a red card that looks set to rule him out of the Wembley showpiece.

Worse was to follow for Harriers two minutes before the break when they went further behind from a well-worked goal. From a free-kick outside the box interplay between Martin and Oli saw the ball delivered into the danger area.

Ashley Nicholls nodded it down and Downer was on hand to apply the finishing touch.

Harriers' boss Mark Yates was so angered by his side's insipid display that he kept them out on the pitch during half time.

The second half was a more low key affair, with Grays taking their foot off the gas and Harriers seeking to put a bit of pride back into their performance.

What was impre4ssive was the way the home fans, so often lacklustre in their support at the New Rec this season, got right behind the team and keep them motivated right to the end.

And it was to be Grays who had the final word right at the death when substitute Griffiths' shot rounded off the scoring.

The move was started with by a fine through ball from Rhodes, who impressed in making the most of his opportunity when replacing Bodkin on 76 minutes, and Griffiths was picked out by Martin.

By Michael Casey
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report