Lambs fall to boyant Grays
04 March 2006
Tamworth traveled to The New Rec, Bridge Road having only once previously visited Grays – in 1989-90 when Martin Devaney and Martn Myers secured safe passage in the FA Trophy.
Tommy Johnson came straight into the starting line up, and Carl Heggs, who pledged his allegiance to The Lambs after approaches from Worksop Town, started up front with the former Celtic and Villa striker.
Mark Cooper’s side featured three changes to the side that lost to Halifax with Nathan Jackson coming in for Paul Merson who started the game on the bench.
In a fast paced start to the game, Tamworth forced home keeper Nicky Eyre into an almost own goal on 4 but the Gray’s custodian recovered in time.
And shortly after Stuart Thurgood whipped in a dangerous freekick from the left of the area, but the ball flew past Sean Bowles’ far upright unchallenged.
The opening goal came on 12 minutes through Aaron McLean who took two attempts to fire home from close range after Grays first corner was not dealt with as it came in low and hard.
And it as almost two on 14 when Matt Redmile’s back pass rolled past Bowles who had come out to the edge of his area but managed to get back in time to concede a corner which Jamie Stuart headed home from close range. Thankfully for The Lambs a foul on Bowles by the same player in the build up ruled out the strike and quashed the home crowd’s celebrations.
Tamworth won a free kick 30 yards out on 22 after a foul on Heggs which Johnson struck only to see it come back off the wall and from a similar position on 26 Grays wasted the chance.
Thurgood made it two-nil to the home side on 28 with a speculative right footed drive into the far top corner when a shooting chance didn’t seem to be on.
Dave Bampton was sent off for a second yellow on the half hour mark making Mark Cooper’s task of getting at least a point at Bridge Road even harder. The challenge that lead to the booking was not particularly harsh but referee Graham Horwood had no hesitation in pulling out the yellow card.
Adie Smith then picked up a booking for a late challenge on McLean as Tamworth, in obvious disarray tried to regroup and stop a rampant home side.
Dennis Oli struck well but past the far upright on 37 and Cooper made an early change, replacing Nick Summerbee with striker Danny Davidson.
Michael Kightly tried his luck from long range on 44 but shot wide and things got worse for the Lambs whwen Jamie Slabber, who had only been on the field for 10 minutes made it 3-0 to Grays with a good finish after some well worked movement out of midfield involving both Slabber and John Nutter.
With the Lambs at a numerical disadvantage and Grays comfortable at three goals up the second half started with Tamworth being allowed a little more time and space, but the home side still looked the more likely to score.
And they did just that on 54 when Slabber ran onto a lofted ball forward which Redmile failed to deal with and lifted it over the advancing Bowles to make it 4-0.
Bowles made a great save at the feet of Slabber on 63 to deny a fifth and hat-trick goal, after good play by Thurgood and Slabber split the Lambs defence in two.
With nothing but pride to play for from then on Tamworth tried to get back into the tie but the home side always look dangerous - Dennis Oli saw his effort saved low by Bowles on 76 and Slabber was denied by strong Lambs defending from the rebound.
After starting with a strong eleven, Mark Cooper’s men finished the game somewhat unrecognizably with Davidson as the lone striker.
Glenn Poole shot wide on 82 finding space and time to turn and shoot from Thurgood’s incisive ball out of midfield.
The fifth goal came on 87 minutes when Michael Kightly headed home Glenn Poole’s cross unabated and thankfully, a sixth strike was ruled out for offside in stoppage time.
Heggs (Stamps 62), Johnson (Folkes 68)
Ward, Neilson, Jackson, Summerbee (Davidson 39)
Roma, Redmile, Bampton, Smith
Subs: Breedon, Merson
McLean (Slabber 37), Oli
Poole, Olayinka (Williamson), Thurgood, Kightly
Nutter, Hanson, Stuart, Mawer
Subs: Bayes, Sambrook, Hooper
Yellow Cards: Bampton, 25 and 30, Smith 33
Red Cards: Bampton 30
Goals: McLean 12, Thurgood 28, Slabber 45+2, 54, Kightley 87