Boro leave it late to go five points clear
Grays Athletic 1 Stevenage Borough 2 BORO left things very late on Tuesday evening when a Grays own goal got them out of a scrape and increased their lead at the top of the Blue Square Premier to five points. Charlie Griffin came off the bench to force Da
Grays Athletic 1 Stevenage Borough 2
BORO left things very late on Tuesday evening when a Grays own goal got them out of a scrape and increased their lead at the top of the Blue Square Premier to five points.
Charlie Griffin came off the bench to force Daniel Bunce into heading Chris Day's long free kick into his own net with just three minutes left on the clock.
Jamie Guy's fortuitous strike three minutes before half time had given Grays the lead against the run of play but Boro kept battling in the second half, boosted by the introduction of Tim Sills and Mitchell Cole, and were rewarded when Michael Bostwick headed them level.
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Boss Graham Westley made two changes from Saturday's 0-0 draw with Kidderminster bringing in Michael Bostwick and Joel Byrom for Stacy Long and Darren Murphy.
Boro started fairly brightly and had a good shout for a penalty turned down inside four minutes when Ronnie Henry's cross appeared to hit a Grays defender square on the hand.
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In the opening 20 minutes Boro created several half chances with Yemi Odubade missing the best one.
A long ball by Mark Roberts was flicked on by Chris Beardsley for Odubade but the angle was tight for the former Oxford man and he fired over the bar.
Boro had plenty of set plays in the first half but both Bridges and Roberts headed over from Andy Drury set plays.
The visitor's best chance of the opening period fell to Bostwick. The midfielder's initial effort hit Beardsley but it bounced kindly back to him and he hit a sweet volley goalbound that forced Glynn Garner to push away at full stretch.
Westley's side increased the tempo but for all of their endeavour couldn't find a way past Garner.
This seemed to give the home side confidence and Joseph Bayowa called Day into action for the first time in the game though the goalkeeper easily collected his weak header.
Then out of nowhere Grays nicked the opening goal three minutes from the interval.
Sloppy play by Boro gifted the home side possession allowing Bayowa to slip the ball in behind the Boro defence for Jamie Guy.
Guy's first shot was well saved by Day but the ball bounced off the front man and rolled into the unguarded net.
Westley wasted no time in changing things around introducing Sills and Cole at half-time for Beardsley and Byrom.
Sills immediately got involved chesting the ball down to Drury but the right winger fired wide from 25 yards.
Then the big striker knocked Laird's cross down in the box and with the ball bouncing around Bridges hooked the ball just clear of the bar.
The vocal travelling support felt hard done by when Odubade went down in the box but wasn't awarded a penalty by referee Burt but there wasn't much of a protest from Odubade's team mates.
Boro kept banging on the door though and were rewarded when Bostwick headed home Drury's corner. It was a well flighted corner into the six yard box and Bostwick stole a march to head past Garner and draw Boro level with 65 minutes on the clock.
Westley's side had their tails up now and went in search of a winner. A good move by Boro saw Drury release Bridges in the right channel and his cross was hacked wildly past his own post by Grays centre half Duran Reynolds.
Sills and Cole really made a difference to Boro and the pair linked up once more to create an opening for Odubade but he was foiled by a great one handed save from Garner, stretching across his goal towards the top corner.
Westley made one final throw of the dice bringing on Charlie Griffin in place of top scorer Odubade and it turned out to be a six.
Just like Sills, Griffin was instantly involved but he was off target with his header from Drury's cross.
The big striker went one better three minutes from time when he forced Bunce into his mistake for what could prove to be one of the most vital goals in the club's season.
Grays (4-4-2): Garner 7; Davis 6, Reynolds 7, Clarey 6, Bunce 6, Graham 7, Harvey 6, Cissoko 5 (Glowaki 5, 59), Rhodes 6 (Agmobar 90), Guy 6, Bayowa 6 (Wilson 74).
Subs: Edwards, Osborn.
Boro (4-4-2): Day 6, Henry 7, Ashton 6, Roberts 6, Laird 6, Drury 7, Bridges 6, Bostwick 6, Byrom 5 (Cole 6, 46); Beardsley 5 (Sills 7, 46), Odubade 6 (Griffin 78).
Subs: Bayes, Murphy.
Referee: S Burt.