Friday, April 12, 2024

Grays bad run continues as they slump at home to Maldon

Ryman Div One North

Grays Ath 0 v 1 Maldon and Tiptree

THE WHEELS have certainly come off the Grays Athletic bus as they drop more points with a desperately disappointing defeat at home to struggling Maldon and Tiptree

Grays started really brightly and looked like a transformed team compared to recent performances.

In the 2nd minute, Danny Bunce hit the underside of the bar.

In the 13th minute, Antony Ryan and Joe Sweeney combined well to put Sweeney through but keeper Scott Steven did well to smother his shot from close quarters.

But once again a trend began to kick in: great flowing passing in the middle of the park that ended up in an unforced error and surrendering possession.

At the back, any jitters were being allayed by Junior Baker but they were not helped by Lee Flynn who in this game and others is caught dwelling time and time again.

But it all counted for nothing in the 27th minute as a simple ball straight down the middle went into the path of Jack Stevenson who slipped the ball past Tony Tucker with ease.

Grays continued to try and play touch football, which frankly looks part of the problem and boss Hakan continued to shout at some players and noticeably not at others.

A Danny Bunce piledriver went close in the 33rd minute.

The second half continued in the same vein with great build up play that added to nothing. Wayward shots by Bunce, Beaney and Flynn peppered the goal but you could hardly say that the keeper was over worked.

Paul Olima came on and put himself about but had no sense of direction.

Grays had a great chance in the 75th minute with a free kick just outside the area but Lee Flynn’s kick went into the wall.Another one a minute later did the same.

Grays camped in the Maldon penalty area but it was a turgid as trench warfare.

With Jared Small and Louis Dennis coming on, Grays had four strikers on. Louis Dennis hit the bar in the 85th minute but it was to no avail.

Maldon had worked hard and Grays had flattered to deceive.

YT sees it this way.

The defence is only solid with Bradley Thomas at the back. The midfield, now bereft of David Cowley lacks balance. Nobody seemed to rate Cowley. That was patent from the start and the players were allowed to shout at him while not addressing their own deficencies.

But the heart of the problem is the strike force. The root, as we have shown before, is that, whether you have one partnership up front or twelve, they need to be firing and the Grays Athletic strikers are not scoring enough goals. So it feels as if Grays are playing with nine men. Ironically, now that Hakan has plumped for Joe Sweeney, he has gone off the boil.

Hakan will be under pressure. Teams tend to play in their managers image and this team are flattering to deceive. This season looks like Hakan’s last full season at Thurrock where they reached second place in the Conf South but then slid back to finish outside the play-offs.

People need to stop using the excuse that teams come to play Grays like it is their cup final. That is simply delusional and does not help the debate.

But and it is a big but, they are still in the play off places and can gain promotion. Like a marathon runner going through a very bad patch you just have to cling on to the back of the pack and keep going.

If we are clutching at straws then spring isn’t that far away and the pitches will improve and that, whether, you like it or not is a key part of Grays game.

Well you have to hope……….

Att: 194

Grays Ath: Tucker T, Pope C, Baker J, Cooper G, Flynn L, Carlos J, Agombar H, Beaney K, Bunce D, Ryan A, Sweeney J

Subs: Small J, Ikumelo S, Olima P, Dennis L, Muguo S


  1. Michael. I heard a definite metallic clang when I was reading your report. Almost like the noise the head of a nail makes when being struck.

  2. A first visit of the season won’t inspire me to go back, 11 players who didn’t have any team ethic, the managers body language was for most of the time hands in pockets, although he did get animated at times.

    Maldon looked to have a game plan, whilst GAFC went through the motions, the early burst of energy and the couple of chances were soon lost as Grays football was confined to their own half, whilst Maldon opened up Grays with some flowing football,

    Grays inability to get the ball forward in a positive way was often lost by the bungling Carlos, from what I saw nothing has changed with him from back in the day, I am surprised Danny Bunce opted to stay and play in this current environment, he looks out of place, the midfield shape often caught Grays out as Maldon filled the space and pressed forward.

    To be honest the late pressure from Grays proved they have big problems throughout the team, for all the pressure, without a shape, the ball was lost or players aimlessly letting shots go from outside the box, doesn’t hurt teams.

    Overall, there is no fluidity or cohesion in the team, often hoofing the ball from the back, the midfield overpassed the ball until it was mostly lost, the front two were for the biggest part of the game chickens without heads and lacked a work ethic, the introduction of Olima did little to inspire.

    I have watched GAFC on and off for over 40 years and if this is modern day Grays, god help them! I feel for the Rymans North League, promotion contenders, HOW?, playing without pride, passion, energy and ideas.

    A MESSAGE TO THE PLAYERS, the huddle before the game, was the last bit of team play on this cold Saturday afternoon, you were poor at best and need to get the PRIDE BACK into your game, play for the shirt not the pay packet.

    Maybe the ‘big squad’ ethic that has been around for a few years now, is the root of the problem, get a 20-22 squad (for the most part stick with it, give players the chance to gel and use it in rotation, or go for an 18 man squad adding young reserves when needed.

    FAMILIARITY should and could build a team spirit, which was sadly lacking today, ONWARDS and UPWARDS.

    I read again today that two more players moved on, too many players for 11 team places


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