GRAYS Athletic missed out on a place in the Essex Senior Cup semi-finals after falling to a narrow defeat at Romford.

Connor Hammond netted the only goal to deprive Jamie Stuart's side of the chance of facing Isthmian Premier League high-flyers Billericay Town in the last four.

Grays booked their place in the quarter-finals by sealing a 2-1 win over National League powerhouses Dagenham & Redbridge in the last round.

But Grays were unable to overcome the Isthmian North strugglers at Ship Lane.

James Folkes was denied early on, but the hosts took the lead inside seven minutes as Hammond slotted home from close range.

Kieran Bishop passed up the opportunity to level matters midway through the first half as he headed straight into the arms of Romford goalkeeper - and debutant - James May when well placed.

Romford's Nick Reynolds was picked out by Olakunle Giwa, breaking through the defence, but the striker fired wide of the post soon before the break.

Jonathan Nzengo could have doubled the home side's advantage early in the second half, but the attacker struck just wide.

Grays piled the pressure on Romford, as Bishop caused problems and Joseph Bruce missed a presentable chance.

With time running out, Grays substitute Callum Thompson curled a free-kick over the crossbar.

Nzengo hit the post after Jay Knight rounded Grays goalkeeper Lamar Johnson late on.

But one goal proved to be enough and it is Romford who will face Billericay, with a place in the Essex Senior Cup final up for grabs.

Grays Athletic: Johnson, Mahal (Thompson 53'), Folkes, Bruce, Fowler, Muguo, Cogan (Sach 63'), Cole, Bishop, Slabber, Poole (Carlos 69')