Grays Athletic 0, Oxford United 4 It was all change for Julian Dicks’s Grays Athletic side on Saturday — except when it came to the result.
Having signed eight new players in the week leading up to the clash with second-placed Oxford, the former West Ham star gave six of them full debuts.
But Grays slumped to a 4-0 defeat, their fifth on the trot, which leaves them still second from bottom in the table and now seven points from safety.
It was always going to be important that the hosts, playing in front of a 1,136 crowd, did not concede early.
But they did, Simon Clist shooting home on 19 minutes after Alfie Potter’s cross had only been partially cleared.
Two minutes later, in a grim opening half, Clist came to the rescue by clearing from the line when Jamie Guy threatened to equalise.
Again it was vital, if Grays were to stand a chance of getting anything from the game, that they kept Oxford at bay early in the second-half.
But again the hosts failed. Only 15 seconds of the second period had gone when Potter bent a superb effort into debutant keeper Richard Martin’s bottom left-hand corner to make it 2-0. From then on it was a case of how many Chris Wilder’s Oxford would win by.
Martin made sure that Jack Midson did not make it 3-0, but his poor kick saw Oxford make it 3-0 three minutes from time, a combination of this and Cameron Mawer’s poor backpass letting in James Constable to score from a tight angle.
Then star visiting man Dan Bulman set-up substitute Matt Green for the fourth in injury-time.
Dicks admitted: “When you let in a goal seconds after half-time it kills you. Again it’s people not doing their job. For me, there’s not enough quality in the squad and in the second-half they did not perform.”
Grays face another tough test tomorrow when they visit a Kidderminster Harriers side who are on the fringes of the play-off fight and will be playing their first home game under new boss Steve Burr.