ROMFORD (1) 1 - 0 (0) Grays Athletic Attendance 182 - Rookery Hill
By Gary Redwin
A great start to the new year for Romford with a victory over Grays that ended a run of 11 league games without a win.
The visitors arrived in a good league position just outside the play off spots but throughout the first half they were not able to cause too many problems for a Romford defence who looked a lot safer and assured than in recent weeks with debutant Frederico HERNANDEZ and the returning Toby BARLOW at full back flanking skipper Danny COSSINGTON and Danny NESBITT. The Boro back line also had the luxury of an early 8th minute lead to defend when after Grays had been tested with a couple of excellent corners driven in from the left by Barlow, Nick REYNOLDS hurled in one of his long throws from the same wing which caused a scramble in the goalmouth and the ball finding it's way to the feet of Ayo OLUKOGA who hit home from around 10 yards. From then until half time there was plenty of midfield action but neither side really looked like adding to the score with the few attempts on goal being off target at both ends.
The second half began in much the same fashion with Romford happy to consolidate and keep things tight. Back from injury, Kurt SMITH was having an excellent game drawing on all his experience in midfield and getting forward at every opportunity to support the strikers, Reynolds and Roddy Lemba while Grays were also creating more although most of their attacks were ending in crosses that whilst being put into dangerous areas, were more than capably dealt with by Harry ALDRIDGE in the Boro goal. At the other end most of Romford's attacks seemed to be thwarted by ex Boro man Michael Finneran, but perhaps he was a little too fired up against his former colleagues as after receiving a yellow card he then got a straight red after 81 minutes for an off the ball stamp on an opponent.
Ironically, it was only after being reduced to 10 men that Grays started to put the Boro goal under any real pressure with Aldridge and Hernandez having to combine to block a goalbound shot and then late on Cossington twice in a minute clearing off the line with first his head and then his boot. The final whistle was probably greeted with more relief by Romford's supporters than their team, everyone of whom had performed with great effort and discipline to secure the points which lifts them out of the relegation zone.
Team: Harry ALDRIDGE, Frederico HERNANDEZ, Toby BARLOW, Chris TAYLOR, Danny NESBITT, Danny COSSINGTON (c), Malaki TOUSSAINT, Ayo OLUKOGA, Nick REYNOLDS (Max BRADFORD 61), Roddy Lemba (Max BOLTON 78), Kurt SMITH (Nathan JOSEPH 90)
Unused Sub: Harry Daly
Goal: Ayo OLUKOGA 8
Yellow Card: Chris TAYLOR 61