Mildenhall Town 2
Grays Athletic 1
A couple of months ago there is every chance Mildenhall Town would not have won this game on Saturday.
Injuries and player departures forced manager Dean Greygoose into an unplanned mid-season rebuilding job and consequently results took a hit.
Indeed, Greygoose’s team went 15 Bostik League North Division fixtures without a victory — a run that stretched from the middle of October until just after Christmas Day.
However, since the turn of the year key squad members have returned to fitness, while the new additions are now more attuned to what is being asked of them.
And the results are speaking for themselves, the latest of which saw Mildenhall become the first team to get the better of Grays Athletic since New Year’s Day.
The hosts were clinical in the first half and went into the break 2-0 up thanks to smart finishes from Matt Green and Jake Chambers-Shaw.
Grays had more of the possession after the restart and pulled a goal back eight minutes from time, but 15th-placed Mildenhall were resolute thereafter to secure a fourth win from their last seven outings.
“Teams are starting to see that we are a good side,” said Greygoose.
“The injuries have killed us this season and it makes me feel we are in a bit of a false position.
“All of a sudden we get the players back and the results start coming — the current form does not lie.
“I had to rebuild the team a bit in the summer and then had to do it again around November time, but we have done it.
“The ideas are really starting to sink in and people are buying into what we are doing.
“The boys were magnificent today — it was a proper game at this level. Grays are a good side, some of their forward play was brilliant.
“But with the lads we have up front now — Claudio (Ofosu), Jake (Chambers-Shaw) and Tom (Debenham) — they have made a massive difference. We have goals in us.
“That also gives the back four and goalkeeper more confidence when we are trying to hold on.
“We might let one in, but because we are getting the job done at the other end, it is not going to cost us every week like earlier in the season.”
After a scrappy opening the home side broke the deadlock in the 21st minute with the encounter’s first major piece of quality.
Jack Wilkinson released Claudio Ofosu with a lofted pass down the left flank, from where the Mildenhall number seven weaved his way into the Grays box and went for goal.
Charlie Burns blocked the effort, but the visiting goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Matt Green from slamming the rebound into the bottom corner from almost 18 yards out.
And it was 2-0 just six minutes later as Green took on the role of provider.
Grays full-back Callum Thompson failed to cut out his cross-field pass and Chambers-Shaw pounced, drawing Burns off his line before firing low inside the far post.
There was greater purpose about Grays in the second half, with Mildenhall’s Jake Hallett, who has extended his loan stint by a further month, called into action on a handful of occasions.
He first spread his body well in the 52nd minute to thwart Jamie Slabber, before grabbing hold of Adeyinka Cole’s bouncing free-kick at the second attempt.
Cole, who had a big influence on the game in the second half, drew another save from Hallett after 69 minutes — this time the Norwich City youngster produced a full length dive to his left to turn the ball around the post.
Mildenhall also continued to carry a threat, with the pace of Ofosu causing plenty of problems.
He had one shot from the left-hand side of the area deflect just off target, before Grays set up a nervy finish in the 82nd minute when James Folkes tapped the ball in at the back post from Kieran Bishop’s flick on.
Grays pushed for an equaliser during the minutes that remained, but Hallett and his defence held firm to secure first back-to-back league wins for Hall since September.
Mildenhall: Hallett, Hood (Brown 4), Wilkinson, Kerins, Curry, Simpson (Holder 90), Ofosu, Asensi, Debenham, Green, Chambers-Shaw (Collins 80)
Journal Man of the Match - Matt Green: Took his goal well and set up Mildenhall’s other. Worked hard in the second half and made countless important challenges and blocks