Bostik Div One North
Grays Athletic 3 v 2 Tilbury
By David Seaman
TWO own goals, a penalty and a red card was the story of this local derby with Grays getting back to winning ways leaving the Dockers mired in the relegation zone. A debut goal for Aron Gordon and a goal on his home debut for the returning Kieran Bishop contributed to Blues win but they had to work hard in the closing stages when the Dockers mounted a late rally . At 2-0 Blues looked in control but the introduction of Lewis Smith was the catalyst for a Dockers fight back .
A bright start from Blues brought an early reward in the seventh minute when a Joao Carlos corner panicked the Dockers rearguard forcing Lewis Jaggs to nod the ball past keeper Rhys Madden. The goal led to period of Blues pressure, Dennis Oli prominent at this stage with some deft touches bringing Gordon and Bishop into the game .
Despite the pressure Dockers had an opportunity to restore parity when a free kick was only half cleared finding Tom Anderson unmarked in the six yard box but he spurned the chance blasting wildly over. Blues replied in the shape of Michael Toner, driving forward he unleashed a powerful drive that whistled just past the upright.
Dockers edged their way back into the game belying their league position with well crafted play, Mitchell Gilbey was pulling the strings but a competitive Blues midfield led by Stan Muguo blunted their progress. Gordon looked lively for Blues recapturing his early season form causing moments of consternation for the Dockers defenders.
Blues had a lucky escape when Toner was caught in two minds, Anderson capitalised stealing the ball and seeing Bogard off his line lifted the ball over the keeper and crossbar. Carlos replied after a patient Blues build up turning inside his marker sending a venomous strike over.
In recent weeks Blues second half performances have seen them fail to match their first half exertions, but early signs were encouraging when Bishop outstripped the Dockers back line and only a great block by Madden prevented a second goal. The Blues striker wasn’t to be denied though, in the 57th minute a searching ball found Bishop, his first touch was not the best but somehow he regained control and slid the ball past the advancing Madden to give Blues a two goal cushion.
The question now was could Blues hold on to their lead and see the game out. Dockers with nothing to lose made a substitution on the hour mark, bringing on the vastly experienced Lewis Smith which altered the flow of the match. Just two minutes after his introduction he was instrumental in the Dockers late comeback. There seemed little danger as an aimless ball deep in the Blues half saw Toner try and shepherd the ball out of play, but not for the first time he hesitated, Smith stole the ball and flashed a cross into the box , Ryan Mahal got a touch turning the ball past Bogard.
The goal stunned Blues, galvanised the Dockers who upped the tempo moving the ball at pace with Smith involved more and more. Collective panic ran through Blues play resorting to hasty clearances and giving away possession allowing Tilbury to build pressure. Smith came close testing Bogard from distance forcing the keeper into a plunging dive to turn the ball behind.
Blues under pressure still looked dangerous on the break, Bishop once again racing clear of the visitors back line set up a great opportunity for Gordon who somehow managed to miss the target from six yards.
An off the ball incident was to reduce the Dockers to ten men when Siju Odelusi appeared to strike Michael Finneran leading to a straight red card. With the visitors reduced to ten men Blues created openings , a second own goal was just avoided when a sliced clearance dropped onto the Dockers bar and behind, sub Ade Cole then caused Madden some anxiety beating out his well struck effort.
With just five minutes remaining on the clock Blues established a two goal cushion when Gordon weaved his way into the box prodding the ball past Madden to record his first league goal of the season.
Blues euphoria was short lived when just two minutes later Dockers reduced the arrears, and it was danger man Smith racing into the box he went down under a challenge and stepped up to roll the ball past Bogard . The goal set up a hectic finale with both sides looking for a goal , Blues held on to claim the three points.
Despite the red card it was game played in the right spirit with both sides enjoying periods of dominance , the win keeps Blues in touching distance of the play off places, Tilbury on the other hand remain in the danger zone but on todays performance they should soon start to climb the table.
Bogard, Mahal, Finneran, Toner, Thompson, Muguo. Hahn, Oli (Cole 69), Bishop, Gordon, Carlos(Okonkwo 86),
Subs not used:Anderson, Cogan , Barnwell