Boro take the lead after semi-final first leg
PUBLISHED: 12:12 12 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010
Grays Athletic 0 Stevenage Boro 1 Boro s management team wanted their side to stay in the tie – well they did that and an awful lot more in Saturday s semi-final first leg of the FA Carlsberg Trophy. Mark Stimson and his assistant Scott Barrett must hav
Grays Athletic 0 Stevenage Boro 1
Boro's management team wanted their side to "stay" in the tie - well they did that and an awful lot more in Saturday's semi-final first leg of the FA Carlsberg Trophy.
Mark Stimson and his assistant Scott Barrett must have been delighted with the outcome as Boro produced a gritty, battling performance at their former club.
Brazilian defender Santos Gaia enhanced a man of the match display with the afternoon's only goal.
That was in fact Boro's only effort on target during the entire 90 minutes and Grays will feel aggrieved not to be going into this Saturday's second leg at least on level terms as they twice hit the woodwork after Gaia's goal.
The pre-match entertainment revolved around seeing how much of the ground the hosts would allow the Boro fans to have.
Eventually they were allowed the terracing behind one goal and a sizeable section of seating with their numbers said to be more than 750 in an official crowd of 1,918.
Mutual respect between Stimson and his Grays counterpart, former Spurs defender Justin Edinburgh, was to be sorely tested as the game developed.
There was a rare start for left winger Dale Binns, with Mitchell Cole on the bench, while Adam Miller failed a pre-match fitness test and Steve Guppy also sat it out along with the cup-tied duo of Damian Batt and Paul Hakim.
Grays were on the offensive from the start but were largely kept well away from Alan Julian's goal.
Efforts from skipper Stuart Thurgood, Gavin Grant and Glenn Poole gradually got closer to their target in the opening quarter of an hour.
The physical threat of Dennis Oli up front was causing Boro problems and his penalty appeals were waved away when he ran into Gaia in the area.
Mark Beard was also cautioned later in the half for chopping down the powerful striker.
Another scare saw Tom Williamson volley well over the bar after Boro could not clear a Poole corner effectively.
With only isolated attacking flurries, Boro did not manage a shot at Ashley Bayes in the half.
Boro were kicking towards their own fans after the break and looked more purposeful.
Binns escaped down the wing for once and his cross saw Mark Hughes head back across goal although no visiting player was able to get on the end of it unfortunately.
Grays were still offering an occasional threat and Gavin fired over when a cross fell to him in the box.
One of the flashpoints of the tie arrived just before the hour mark when the combative Thurgood upended Jon Nurse in front of the dug-outs and was rightly cautioned.
Heated words were exchanged between the two managers, although the scenes were not X-rated and there was nothing too outlandish.
Minutes later, Boro recorded their first effort at goal as Nurse screwed a left-foot shot well wide.
Then Cameron Mawer, who hails from Stevenage, escaped a second caution for taking out Binns.
Mawer seemed fortunate as he had been booked for a bad tackle on Nurse late in the first half and had made several other strong challenges.
The arrival of Cole for Binns gave Boro more attacking threat.
Cole tormented Grays full-back Andy Sambrook in a recent league meeting and he was fouled again by the same player for the free-kick which led to the Boro goal on 72 minutes.
Hughes swung over the free-kick on the corner of the area and Gaia flicked a header beyond Bayes.
Grays were almost level within a couple of minutes as a Thurgood corner saw Jamie Stuart power a header off the top of the bar.
And the home side were further frustrated when sub Alex Rhodes had his shot pushed out by Julian.
Grays were denied again just as the fourth official indicated four minutes of added time.
Rhodes, on loan from Brentford, burst past Henry as Grays broke but his shot hit the outside of the post and away to safety from Boro's perspective.
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