Grays Athletic 1 Forest Green Rovers 1

Last updated : 14 October 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Shot-Shy Grays spurned a host of chances to get their promotion challenge back on track and allowed Forest Green Rovers to nick a point at the New Rec.

Blues, who have picked up just six points from their past eight games, flew out of the blocks and went ahead through Michael Kightly's eighth goal of the season in just the 12th minute.

But the hosts could not capitalise on their lightening start and spurned a hatful of gilt-edged chances to sew up a much-needed win.

Aaron McLean, Kightly and Dennis Oli were all guilty of glaring misses and they were made to pay when Jamie Stuart headed into his own net five minutes before the interval to hand the visitors a share of the spoils.

Grays, who handed a debut to Peterborough loanee Chris Plummer, started out full of purpose, determined to put their nightmare performance against Tamworth four days previously well and truly behind them.

The visitors were given no time to settle with Glenn Poole's exquisite free kick testing visiting keeper Steve Williams inside two minutes.

Top scorer McLean really should have opened the scoring minutes later when he scampered on to Plummer's header forward but dragged his shot wide with just Williams to beat.

So it was no surprise when the hosts did break the deadlock in the 12th minute. Ashley Bayes's huge clearance up field was flicked on by Oli into the path of Kightly who was making one of his trademark bursts forward.

With Kevin Nicholson frantically trying to get back goalside and Williams sprinting off his line, the ex-Southend youngster showed both poise and intelligence to hoist a cunning lob over the Rovers keeper and into the back of the net.

Rovers recovered well after the goal and Alex Meechan twice had chances to capitalise on Grays mistakes and put his side level.

Meechan first latched on to Andy Sambrook's slip but was denied a certain goal by Jamie Stuart's last-gasp intervention.

Stuart could only watch on anxiously minutes later when he misjudged a bounce and allowed Meechan to scamper clear and fire a fiercesome shot across goal that swerved away from goal at the last second.

At the other end, Blues continued to look dangerous with Plummer thumping a header from Kightly's corner over the bar and Kightly himself missing a gilt-edged chance to double the advantage and score one of the goals of the season to boot.

A wonderful passing move involving Glenn Poole and John Martin ended with Kightly exchanging passes with McLean but then pulling his shot just past the post when clear through on Williams.

Forest Green grabbed the leveller five minutes before the interval when Nicholson's hopeful free kick into the box caused all sorts of trouble in the Blues' defence and under pressure from Adriano Rigoglioso, Stuart looped a header into his own net.

Having collected their thoughts at the interval, Blues started the second half in the manner of the first.

Williams had to make a routine save to deny Oli after he span on Sambrook's throw and fired goalwards and a falling McLean rippled the side-netting from the same man's cross.

Oli missed the best chance of all in the 55th minute when, after setting McLean free on the right, he powered into the middle to collect the return but stabbed horribly wide from no more than 10 yards out.

At the other end Les Afful skipped past both Martin and Poole to work space for a shot but scuffed his shot straight at Bayes.

But the traffic was all one way and Oli, who bar his miss was having an impressive game, twice went close and sub Jamie Slabber went desperately close to converting Poole's cross.

The way things are going for Grays right now you almost expected them to lose all three points and they nearly did so when Mark Preece headed Simon Clist's header just over the bar.