Ryman Div One North
Waltham Forest 1 v 2 Grays Athletic
GRAYS went to the top of the table as they carved out a hard fought victory chance against a durable Waltham Forest at the Cricklefield Stadium.
It is never pretty at the Forest and this was no exception. The pitch had that Albanian tractor plant feel to it as even early on Grays struggled to control the ball but that didn’t stop Dave Cowley putting in a lovely curled pass to Jared Small in the third minute.
Small earned the first corner from which Junior Baker just headed over.
Forest had a fair shout for a penalty when keeper Aksoy clattered into the Forest striker but the referee said no.
Half chances came either way but Forest looked much more comfortable with the terrain in what looked like a war of attrition.
Joao Carlos burst into the box and Forest did well to head away for a corner. Forest were opening Grays up, especially Craig Pope on the right. Grays were also giving away too many fouls.
Kenny Beaney orchestrated some nice inter-linking play but it came to nought.
Hakan and Hassan were now somewhat animated as they clearly felt the team weren’t keeping to the blueprint.
Jared Small had the first clear cut chance for Grays in the 35th minute but his shot was smothered by the keeper but it illustrated that there was a way through.
It started to look that route one might be the key but in the 40th minute Carlos struck the post after creeping round the back.
Grays started strongly second half as the ball started to pepper the Forest defence however it was Forest who should have scored when their striker lobbed the ball over Aksoy but saw it trickle just past the post.
They were to rue that chance as in the 55th minute, Joe Sweeney did as he did for the opening goal on Saturday as he latched onto an Ali Aksoy clearance, broke free of his marker and slotted the ball home.
Grays were transformed. Carlos hit the post again and Cowley came more into the game.
Danny Bunce came on for Harry Agombar as Hakan clearly wanted more teak in midfield.
It continued to be one way traffic. Kenny Beaney hit the bar from a corner.
But in the 78th minute, Forest equalised when a clumsy challenge saw the keeper point to the spot.
Grays went back on the counter but couldn’t find a way through. Eljay Worrell came on for the ineffective Cowley.
But just when it looked like a draw, Grays earned a corner and in the goalmouth melee, Kenny Beaney scrambled it over to put Grays top of the league after the first week of the season.
A. Aksoy, C Pope, G Cooper (E Worrell 80) J Baker, L Flynn , D Cowley (J Fontaine 83), K Beaney, J Carlos, H Agombar (D Bunce 69), J Sweeney, J Small
Subs not used: S Northwood, J Nash
Man of the match: K Beaney
Match Rating: 6/10