GRAYS Athletic manager Jamie Stuart said he expects his team to wear the shirt with pride after watching them defeat big-spending Billericay Town to keep alive their Ryman Premier League survival hopes.
Kwabana Osei scored a 90th minute free-kick to win the match for Grays and moved them to within seven points of safety.
However, Blues have played more games than any other side in the division and their goal difference of -42 also looks costly.
But Stuart couldn’t praise his team enough for the result on Saturday.
“It is a fantastic result,” said Stuart. “We did our homework on Billericay. We had them watched against Needham Market and we had a game plan. We had an extra man in midfield to pick up possession and it worked well. It was a very good performance.
“I think we were the better team. They are good at what they do - using corners and throws to their advantage - although they didn’t create much. We created more in open play and had good early opportunities but I am happy with 1-0.
“It is frustrating. Aside from Tonbridge we have done enough to win games.
“We had a meeting on Thursday about the games we have left and what we expect from them. I will never give up and it isn’t over until it is over.
“I told them to wear the shirt with pride and show people what they and Grays are all about.”
It took Billericay 18 minutes to create an opportunity. A neat counter attack saw Adam Cunnington send Lewis Taaffe clear. His pull-back found Billy Bricknell but a fine block from Jon Ashton kept the scores level.
From the resulting corner Danny Fitzsimons forced Grays goalkeeper Amadou Tangara into a brilliant save, tipping the ball onto the crossbar.
Matt Baxter was denied by debutant goalkeeper Alan Julian up the other end - who Edwards confirmed after the game had replaced Jack Giddens as the club’s number one stopper.
Chidi Williams-Agunabor flicked a Kreshnic Krasniqi long throw inches past his own post, with Rob Swaine’s header from the corner just wide of the other upright.
Goalless at the break, Grays had the first clear-cut chance of the second period.
Baxter lined up a strike from 20 yards which crashed off the frame of the goal with Julian beaten.
Cunnington hit the base of the post and Joe Ellul had a header cleared off the line as the pressure grew, with the same man hitting the outside of the post in the final 15 minutes.
But then came Osei’s moment.
A free-kick was awarded 20 yards out and the midfielder bent the ball into the top corner to spark wild celebrations.