Far from a Gray day for The Lambs
17 September 2005
Tamworth produced a much-improved performance against highflying Grays Athletic and perhaps should have won the game in the last minute, but James Francis put his shot wide from close range.
Boss Mark Cooper said after the thrilling tie that "We should have won. We had plenty of energy and pace. Darren Mansaram capped a fine debut with a goal and had Julian Alsop's header not been stopped by their 'keepers legs we would have gone 3-1 up and that should have been it."
As it was Gray's broke to the other end, capitalised on a gap in the defence and equalised through Glenn Poole who picked his spot well from the edge of the area and beat James Dormand with a well-struck shot.
Tamworth started in fantastic fashion and found themselves in the lead after just 14 minutes.
The Lambs hadn't scored a Conference goal for quite some time and in the end the drought ended after 299 minutes with a own goal, scored by Jamie Stuart who headed Julian Alsop’s flick on past his own keeper under no pressure from the edge of the area.
Mansaram and Alsop proved a good partnership upfront with Mansaram supplying the pace to compliment Alsop's role as the target man and Mansaram quickly showed why he went straight into the starting eleven.
However, a moment of skill by Dennis Oli leveled the tie on 38 minutes. Oli curled a right footed shot into the far corner when most of the crowd suspected it would whistle past the post to give the visitors a share of the spoils at the break
Grays came out of the blocks quickly after the restart but it was Tamworth who took the lead on 49 minutes. Scott Stamps’ corner was flicked on and when the Grays defence failed to clear and when the ball popped up, Mansaram nipped in with a deft header from just 2 yards to put the Lambs back in front.
James Francis has come on for an injured Darren Campbell after just 39 minutes (Campbell went off with a dead leg and is doubtful for Tuesday’s trip to Southport) and rewarded boss Cooper following an improvement on the training ground with a good display of pace and persistence.
After almost going out on loan last week, Francis created numerous openings for The Lambs and although he still needs match practice, Cooper said of the youngster “His discipline and attitude have improved dramatically and although one swallow doesn’t make a summer he just needs to keep taking the chances he's given.”
After Grays equalized through Poole on 69 Tamworth continued to push forward and were almost rewarded in the final minute, but Francis’ shot from Tris Whitman’s cross to the far post went agonizingly wide.
“We knew we had to shake things up after Halifax,” Cooper commented,” We sacrificed the ball skill of Hugh McAuley for the pace of Smith and Bampton in midfield and with Mansaram up front looked a lot hungrier and I believe we deserved the three points today.”
Dormand, Smith Y, Bampton Y, Redmile, Brown, Mansaram (Taylor 63), Alsop (Storer 90), Campbell (Francis 39), Stamps, Turner, Whitman
Unused: Cooper, Gayle
BJ’s MOM – voted for by sponsors – Tamworth Goalden Gate Draw