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14.02.2009 @ 15:00 Racecourse Ground Crowd: 3419
Wrexham 3 - 2 Grays Athletic
Referee: M Heywood Conference National-Match

Nathan Fairhurst (6)
Jon Brown (55)
Ryan Flynn (57)
Barry Cogan (30)
Andy Pugh (90)
Starting Line-ups
Gavin Ward
Neil Taylor
Ashley Weastwood
Mike Williams
Sam Williamson
Jon Brown
Andy Fleming
Nathan Fairhurst
Ryan Flynn
Jefferson Louis
Marc Williams
Steve Arnold
Rob Gier
George Beavan
Jamie Stuart
Fabian Wilnis
Joe Tabiri
Ishmael Welsh
Barry Cogan
Stuart Thurgood
Jamie Slabber
Andy Pugh
Aurelien Collin
Christian Gyan
Wes Baynes
Jamie McCluskey
Patrick Suffo
Rob Beckwith
Kenny Davis
Tyrone Berry
Stefan Bailey
James Lindie
Wes Baynes -> Jon Brown (70)
Jamie McCluskey -> Ryan Flynn (70)
Patrick Suffo -> Marc Williams (74)
Stefan Bailey -> Stuart Thurgood (68)
James Lindie -> Jamie Slabber (74)
Kenny Davis -> George Beavan (86)
Yellow cards
Marc Williams Stuart Thurgood (62)
Rob Gier (90)
Red cards
None None
Match report |
Grays breathed fire against the Dragons but not enough to slay the promotion chasers.

This is going to go down to April 25th isn’t it?

Grays went down 3-2 to promotion chasing Wrexham in a game decided by two killer goals in close succession.

But with ten weeks left in the league, what others do or don’t is starting to be crucial and with Salisbury, Woking, Barrow and Weymouth also losing, the loss by the odd goal may be, just may be a moral and a slide rule victory.

Everything about The Racecourse Ground is impressive and they seem to have retained the professional infrastructure in their first season in the Blue Square Premier.

Indeed, this was a tale of two clubs in different straits. While one defeat in sixteen Wrexham can draw on loan signings from the Premier League and Champonship supported by a borough that has invested in football, Grays were mix and matching with loan signings from the nether reaches of League Two while grappling with the fact that they are very very low on the powers that build the borough’s agenda/radar.

Things didn’t start well for the Blues as Wrexham, passing at will, opened up the scoring in the 6th minute when Nathan Fairhurst latched onto a neat square pass on the edge of the area and put the ball past the outstretched Steve Arnold.

Grays, to their credit, didn’t panic or capitulate but slowly grafted their way back into the game. Debutant Joe Tabiri was very solid, winning every challenge while George Beavan started to develop a good partnership with Ishmael Welsh.

Welsh is doing everything he can to frighten the life out of right backs everywhere and Grays fans must pay credit to the hard working winger. Many a wise manager will be biding their time until April. Doesn’t his agent know it.

Grays were eeking out the fouls. Barry Cogan's free kick in the 22nd minute was well held by keeper Gavin Ward while Andy Pugh was starting to improve with a nice turn that forced a corner.

Grays equalised in the half hour when good combining work by Welsh and Beavan saw the teenager whip in a cross that the keeper cold only parry away. Barry Cogan, from just inside the area made no mistake.

The Wrexham crowd seemed a churlish lot, singing when they were winning but soon moaning when Grays started to turn the screws.

In the 36th minute, the domineering Stuart Thurgood put a lovely through ball to Jamie Slabber but the ball was plucked form his toe by keeper Ward.

Dean Saunders is a cool customer. After the game he suspected that a makeshift Grays with only three games played this year would wilt but that wasn’t the source of the two goals in three minutes.

Jamie Stuart had had a good first half but he was lucky to get away with a few robust challenges around the area.

In the 55th minute, he was lured into a clumsy foul by Marc Williams just outside the box. Wrexham accepted the present and Jon Brown dinked a perfect free kick into the top left hand corner.

Two minute later, Williams rampaged down the right, put in a lovely cross and Ryan Flynn, who was in acres of space where either Stuart should have been, put in a twisting header to secure the three points.

From this point onward, it was damage limitation. It could have been a landslide but they remained stoic. That may serve them well at the end of the season as Salisbury and Weymouth both lost heavily.

To everyone’s credit, no-one ever gave up and that includes the 26 fans. Grays “realpolitik” is for damage limitation against the promtion chasers: that means defeats by a single goal to Burton and Wrexham are successes.

They need to get something from Barrow and Forest Green. It is then a matter of hoping that the other teams stay in touch. Salisbury and Weymouth are bedevilled by problems on and off, so it may be a matter of seeing how far they plunge.

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