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10.03.2007 @ 15:00 The Recreation Ground Crowd: 1918
Grays Athletic 0 - 1 Stevenage Borough
Referee: A Hall FA Trophy / Semi Final 1st Leg-Match

None Santos Gaia (72)
Starting Line-ups
Ashley Bayes
Andy Sambrook
Jamie Stuart
Cameron Mawer
Anthony Tonkin
John Martin
Tom Williamson
Glenn Poole
Stuart Thurgood
Dennis Oli
Gavin Grant
Alan Julian
John Nutter
Santos Gaia
Ronnie Henry
Mark Beard
Barry Fuller
Dale Binns
Daryl McMahon
Mark Hughes
John Nurse
Steve Morison
Danny Knowles
Anthony Barness
Ashley Nicholls
Alex Rhodes
Pierre Joseph-Dubois
Danny Potter
Luke Oliver
Craig Dobson
Jamie Slabber
Mitchell Cole
Alex Rhodes -> Tom Williamson (72)
Mitchell Cole -> Dale Binns (66)
Yellow cards
Cameron Mawer (42)
Stuart Thurgood (59)
Mark Beard (36)
Red cards
None None
Match report |
It came from their only chance of the match, but one goal was enough for Stevenage to take a priceless lead from this first leg of the FA Trophy at the New Recreation Ground on Saturday.

Grays made a confident start with John Martin heading over and Glen Grant blasting just over the bar from 30 yards in the first five minutes.

The Blues midfield dominated Stevenage with Grays first to every tackle and dominant in the air, while the defence displayed a calm authority with Andy Sambrook in particular snuffing out the presence of the dangerous Dale Binns.

It started to look like Stevenage had come for the draw and the anxiety of the visitors was shown as Borough assistant manager Scott Barrett spent most of the first half arguing with the fourth official.

Chances fell to Thurgood and the bustling Oli.

In the 24th minute, Williamson blasted high over the bar. It was at this point that Gray's game started to lack penetration. Too many crosses and corners were to red shirts or empty spaces.

With half time approaching, the Grays defence, which had looked solid for 40 minutes suddenly began to make fundamental errors as time after time, they either failed to clear their lines or passed back to Stevenage players.

Even keeper Ashley Bayes was guilty, as he threw the ball out to Anthony Tonkin, even though he wasn't looking.

The pattern of play continued in the second half with Oli working incredibly hard to harass the Stevenage defence. In the 56th minute, an otherwise quiet Grant received the ball in the area, spun the defender but this point blank shot was comfortably saved by the reliable Borough keeper Alan Julian.

The temperature was raised in the 58th minute when a series of mistimed tackles by Grays players left the Stevenage bench incensed.

Referee Hall, who was keen to keep the game flowing, booked Stuart Thurgood but it seemed surprising that Borough boss Mark Stimson was allowed unchecked to walk over to Justin Edinburgh and make several complaints right up to his face.

Grays' brittle defence were to rue a foul by Andy Sambrook on substitute Cole in the 72nd minute. The free kick was floated in to the box where Borough defender Santos Gaia directed a deft header over Bayes and into the Grays net.

Recent loan signing from Brentford, Alex Rhodes came on and made an immediate impact with his pace and balance.

Grays so nearly had an equaliser in the 74th min when Thurgood's header struck the Borough bar.

Going a goal down seemed to release the Blues' players inhibitions. Tonkin started to press forward and Poole had a fine effort blocked.

Sub Rhodes should have come on earlier. In the final five minutes he had two great efforts. One shot on the turn forced a corner and another shot unluckily hit the post.

After the game, Justin Edinburgh remained convinced that his team have everything to play for.

He said: "It is a cliche but I told the players that it is only half time. We did enough to force a draw but we can't keep saying 'unlucky'."

With Conference results conspiring to see Grays drop into the bottom three, Edinburgh has a vital week coming up, starting with the visit of a revitalised Tamworth on Tuesday.

By Michael Casey
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report