FA Trophy Prelim Round
Waltham Abbey 1 v 1 Grays Athletic
THE BLUES fought back to take Waltham Abbey to a replay in an up and down battle at the Cappershots Stadium.
Hakan had rung the changes after the defeat against Tilbury.
Abbey started very smartly indeed with some neat interplay on an agricultural pitch. Danny Bunce made a vital interception and Kenny Beaney appealed to Ali Aksoy for better communication.
That was the least of his shortcomings as in the 6th minute, Tim Shaw pounced on a disastrous piece of dawdling on the ball from Aksoy to round him and score.
The key for Grays, unlike Wednesday was not to panic. They had 84 minutes but that’s not so easy with Hakan prowling on the sideline.
Grays gained two corners in the space of as many minutes as Harry Agombar looked busy.
Abbey were over-running Grays and looked full of confidence after beating Great Wakering 7-0 last week.
In the 16t minute, Danny Bunce crossed from the right, Dave Cowley showed good control six yards out but an Abbey defender neatly intercepted.
Abbey nearly had a second when some very laid-back defending put Aksoy in trouble but Ayrton Coley just shot over.
Foul throws, hesitation as they looked to the side-line and complaints about lack of movement accentuated the drop in confidence in the Blues especially the defence that without Brad Thomas looked devoid of belief.
Joe Sweeney was working hard to get his team involved and Danny Bunce was imploring his team to push on.
Another corner came over in the 38th but there seemed to be many more green shirts. Soon after, Junior Baker had a one-on-one with the keeper but Harry Ricketts saved well. Sweeney then went close as Grays poured on the pressure.
Grays started well and their endeavour was repaid in the 53rd minute when Junior Baker rose high among the crowd to head from close range.
Grays dominance continued and Junior Baker could have made it two as his low header at the far post skimmed the post.
But they continued to waste chances. In the 71st minute, a great cross found Dave Cowley at the far post but he shanked the ball across the goal.
A subdued Joao Carlos broke free from his marker in the 79th minute but his shot was way over.
Craig Pope was carded for grappling the Abbey attacker warmly round the throat.
The game started to peter out in to a draw as both lacked any great potency up front. Louis Dennis came on with ten minutes to go but could not grab the winner as both teams resigned themselves to a return to Rookery Hill on Wednesday night.
Grays Ath: A Aksoy, C Pope, G Cooper , J Baker, D Bunce ( L Flynn 60), D Cowley (E Worrell 76), J Carlos, K Beaney, J-M Sigere, J Sweeney, H Agombar
Subs not used: J Small, B Thomas, , L Dennis