Sunday, July 21, 2024

Heybridge Swifts 3 v 1 Grays Athletic

SOMETIMES, it is hard to assess how important a player is to a team until they don’t play and that could well be the case with Brad Thomas as well as Eljay Worrell who, on the evidence of Grays 3-1 defeat at Heybridge Swifts.

Of course it wasn’t helped that Duran Reynolds had a fairly poor game and Duran in turn wasn’t helped that Junior Baker was somewhat restricted in his movement as he decided he would rather looks like a reject from the Wu-Tang Clan than a professional footballer as he spent the whole game with his shorts so low that he couldn’t lift his legs.

The rest of the team wished they had an excuse. The first half was terribly disappointing as Grays simply didn’t get started. They were over-run in midfield where the non-league Paul Scholes in Russell Pond worked prodigously while Marvin Samuel looked like it has been a season too far.

Swifts opened the scoring in the 7th minute when Pond cut the Grays defence open with a lovely through ball to Chris Lewis on the left. He cut inside and picked his spot driving the ball past Steven Northwood.

Grays had possession, the front three pressurised but everything came to nothing. The defence looked deep and Swifts, still with play-off ambitions worked very hard.

Swifts should have made it two as Lewis once again left on his own in the box but his shot just missed the Grays goal.

Alex Osbourn squeezed in a shot on the half hour but too many unforced errors. Jared Small nearly scored when he neatly chested the ball down but his shot went wide.

In the 38th minute Reece Morgan made it two. Chris Lewis crossed from the left and Morgan steamed in from the right headed past Stephen Northwood.

Jason Fontaine came on at the beginning of the second half to bring more zip down the left.

It certainly worked as Grays were a transformed team and set about trying to hammer down the Swifts goal.

In the 49th minute Alex Osbourn was the victim of a nasty challenge that saw Nathan Smith in the book but the free kick by Reynolds drifted harmlessly over the bar.

Grays Ath got a goal back in the 56th minute after good work by Danny Bunce saw him cross to Jared Small who shot high into the net.

Swifts panicked, gave Grays far too much time on the ball but they were also overwhelmed by attack after attack coming down the left flank.

Swifts should have made it 3-1 but Tom English skied the ball from under the bar. A few minutes later, Steven Northwood made a vital save but four minutes later sub Luke Callander broke free and fired the winning goal in to keep their play off hopes alive.

Grays now sit nine points behind with two games in hand. Teams such as Brentwood and Harlow have woken up and seem like formidable play off candidates. Grays may well now play each game on its own merits but may also start to plan for next year.

Grays Athletic 4-3-3

S.Northwood, D Smith, D Reynolds, J Baker, D Bunce, J Docker (J Fontaine 45), M Samuel, S Demetriou, J Small, A Osborn, S Thomas D Morgan 62

Subs:, T Harvey, J McEvoy, D Pennant

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