Sunday, September 25, 2022

Grays Athletic battle back to earn hard fought draw.

Ryman Div One North

Grays Ath 1 v 1 Harlow Town

IT WASN’T pretty, it was deeply underwhelming but in the end, Grays Ath dug deep to earn a 1-1 draw with fellow promotion contenders, Harlow Town at Rookery Hill.

Many of us had in our diaries, Feb 25th, David Cowley to score against Grays and sure enough.

Harlow took the lead in the second minute when they were awarded a free kick. It looked like Junior Baker had won the ball just outside the area but the referee Stuart Franklin decided he had shown his studs. He awarded a kick to the Hawks. From outside the area, David Cowley, released by Grays just a few weeks ago, drove the ball through the wall and in.

Grays found it hard to get into their stride and started to wear the face of the victim very early. Junior Baker and Harry Agombar were booked before fifteen minutes elapsed and there were howls of protests when Joao Carlos dived in the area but didn’t get a penalty.

What was happening was that Grays could not find any rhythm and it was compounded by the referee’s inability to keep the game flowing. YT doesn’t like criticising refs (Brian Clough never did) but he was having something of a shocker.

Then again, so were Grays and a wayward strike by Paul Olima in the 22nd minute was the first attack by the Blues.

Grays lacked a cutting edge. A breakaway by Nathan Gordon should have produced more but the winger just ran out of ideas and into defenders when he reached the area.

A second goal from Harlow looked more likely as Leon Lalite and Manny Osei continued to create problems.

Grays nearly grabbed the equaliser in the 36th minute after Louis Dennis’ danced into the area and forced a great one handed save from Bertrand Bossu. But that was about it for Louis Dennis, who seems to have turned into Fernando Torres. Flattering to deceive.

The bottom line was that Grays were being totally out-muscled in midfield. A case in point was in the 43rd minute when Osei rampaged through the middle and should have scored but for a fine smother save from Tony Tucker.

The referee left the pitch at half time to a chorus of disapproval. As he approached the tunnel most of it seemed to be from Grays Athletic officials. That may be something they will come to regret.

Grays showed intent at the beginning of the second half. In the 50th minute, Joao Carlos produced a fine run down the centre, passed to Nathan Gordon who had his shot well saved. Paul Olima had a shot saved a minute later.

There next came a sustained period of pressure from Harlow, who looked organised and determined. Once again, Dave Cowley threatened as one of his corners skimmed the bar.

Grays plugged away and there was no doubt the team were trying but so many of the key passes went astray.

But just as the fans were beginning to despair, in the 71st minute, Craig Pope got the team out of trouble when from a Harry Agombar corner, he crouched low and fired a header into the corner of the net.

The game now fired into life. James Peagram rampaged down the right on several occasions whilst Grays kept firing the ball into the box.

Another chance came on the 85th minute, the ball fell to the feet of Louis Dennis but the peripheral striker miscued.

In the 89th minute, Hawks keeper Bossu once again saved the day as he made a great double save when Joao Carlos burst through.

At the other end, Hawks skipper Daniel Brown hit the post from just six yards out.

A draw was a fair result but you do fear for Grays Ath. We maintain that they should be six points clear of this league. Instead, they are hanging onto a play off place by their finger tips. Equal on points with Tilbury and with Brentwood and especially Redbridge breathing down their necks. It is a fair run in but it is by no means certain by a long way.

Grays Ath: Tucker T, Pope C, Flynn L, Cooper G, Baker J,Gordon N (Bunce D 73), Carlos J, Beaney K, Agombar H, Dennis L (Bunn J 85),Olima P (Sigere J-M 75)

Subs not used: Thomas B,Muguo S

Harlow Town: Bossu B, Barnard D, Brown D, Haverson J, Kirby R, Kilapi G (Bruno T 73),, Cowley D (Deane M 83),Lalite L, Osei E, Hammond J, Peagram J.

Subs not used: Taylor M, Mann C, Maxwell R

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