In what was a typically lively local derby, The Gulls came back from a goal down to lead 2-1 at half time before putting the cherry on the cake in second half injury time.
Manager Danny Heale named an unchanged side from the one that beat Worthing 2-0 on Tuesday night. This included two former-Grays players in the shape of goalkeeper Conor Gough and forward Simon Thomas. Ex-Canvey midfielder Harry Watkins took his place on the visitors bench.
Very little of any note happened in the opening half hour with the ball seeming to spend more time in the air than it did on the ground.
On 14 minutes one of these aerial passes found the head of Simon Thomas who managed to flick the ball into the path of George Sykes with his head. Sykes burst into the area past Chidi Williams-Agunbor but slipped as he was about to
Canvey were forced into an early change when Manny Oyeleke went down in the centre circle with a problem with his left leg. The midfielder, in the final game of his loan spell from Aldershot Town, played on for short while before being replaced by Marlon Agyakwa on 24 minutes.
Grays took the lead on 29 minutes when a good build up saw the ball played into the feet of captain Nathan Campbell inside the area with his back to goal. Campbell wasn’t being marked tight enough and was allowed to turn before driving the ball past Conor Gough who was diving full stretch to his left.
This goal sparked the game into life and Canvey found themselves level almost straight from the restart. Ryan Mahal fouled George Sykes on the left wing, presenting Canvey with a free kick and picking up booking for his trouble.
Ryan Blackman whipped in an excellent free kick to the back post which was met with an equally good header from George Allen. The tall centre back was unmarked and nodded back across goal and just inside the post to give Canvey the perfect response.
Canvey then took the lead on 33 minutes when Blackman delivered another great ball into the box, this time from a corner. The Grays defence were in disarray once again and George Sykes was on hand to bundle home his 17th goal of the campaign from close range.
The visitors could have grabbed an equaliser just before half time when an error of judgement from Marlon Agyakwa inside the area saw the ball played across goal from the left to Kieran Bishop. The forward shot from close range but was denied thanks to a superb block from George Allen.
The Gulls were dealt a major blow on 65 minutes when Ryan Blackman went down in a lot of pain after being tackled. The influential captain left the field on a stretcher and was replaced by Omarr Lawson.
On 75 minutes an excellent lofted ball over the top of the Grays defence was met by the run of Mitchell Gilbey who had burst through the back line, but the midfielder was millimetres away from bringing the ball under control with his outstretched left boot.
George Sykes had the ball in the net again in the 93rd minute after he turned a defender inside the area before thundering a shot home. However, play had been stopped seconds earlier after a clash of heads between a player from both sides.
The victory was sealed in the sixth and final minute of injury time when Canvey were awarded a throw in by the corner flag on the right wing. Rather than keep the ball in the corner, Marlon Agyakwa threw the ball into the area for Mitchell Gilbey to run onto. Gilbey squared for fellow midfielder Frankie Merrifield to find the top corner from 12 yards to wrap up an important victory.
The whistle sounded immediately after the restart to seal another vital three points in the battle against the drop.
Photo: David Ayling
Danny Heale Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts