Ryman Div One North
Soham Town Rangers 3 v 2 Grays Athletic
IT WAS all going so well. Grays Ath had spent 35 minutes creating chance after chance. Most of them through an effervescent Joao Carlos. They then made the break-through from Carlos and all was well.
The second half looked positive. Grays continued to play good football but then the whole game turned in the 55th minute when Paul Olima got sent off.
It appeared to be for two incidents in short succession and on the second occasion he appeared to raise his arms. He was clearly upset, very upset. He is a sensitive, temperamental young man, who was known for “going into one” at Thurrock.
After the game, there were un-coroborrated allegations that racist remarks, gestures and insinuations had been made to and in the direction of Paul Olima.
The whole situation had incensed manager Hakan Heyrettin so much that he felt it best to sit in a car outside the ground lest he did something he would regret.
The whole matter will, no doubt, be the subject of an inquiry.
Whatever the result, Grays Athletic are now ninth in the league with only eight wins in nineteen. On the other hand they are only two points off the play offs and have everything to prove.
They can use this game to galvanise the squad and in the last eleven games have a real tilt at the play offs.
The fact is that there were so many positives from todays game. It was a lovely spring day and the team looked relieved that it could play its natural game on decent surfaces again. Carlos terrorised Rangers whilst Louis Dennis looked very chipper. Olima was having a quiet game and so maybe just maybe Hakan will need to turn to Joe Sweeney and ask him to get him five or six goals from the last eleven games.
The first half was very entertaining.
In the 11th minute Carlos earned a corner after good work on the left. From the corner, Craig Pope’s header blazed over.
Soham looked organised and industrious but didn’t seem to offer a threat.
Grays started to apply the pressure and again it was Carlos but the keeper did well to smother his shot.
At the other end, the Soham striker beat the offside trap but ran too far to the right to give himself a chance of a decent angle.
Nathan Gordon and Junior Baker had consecutive chances punted off the line. Gordon was also doing his fair share of tracking back.
Another corner swung over but it went into the side netting.
In the 40th minute Joao Carlos broke the deadlock as an innocuous ball was sent over and he easily sneaked around the back to head in.
Danny Bunce came on for Lee Flynn at the second half commenced Grays had a Louis Dennis crossed off for offside but it showed how sprightly the attacker was.
If there was a criticism of Grays it was that they didn’t get enough men in the box when they attacked on the flanks.
But just when life was going well, the Paul Olima incident occurred.
Grays lost their tempo. Jean Michel Sigere came on for Louis Dennis. In the 70th minute he burst through but was brought down by the keeper. The referee decided to just give a yellow.
In the 73rd minute there was an ugly scramble in the box but Soham managed to bundle the equaliser home
Grays now had an awful struggle in front of them. And it got worse as some free flowing football by Rangers saw Scott Carter put Soham in the lead. In the 81st minute Paul Jones scored a screamer from thirty yards to seal Grays fate.
Nathan Gordon got a goal back in the 86th minute but it was all far too late.
Grays Ath play Needham Market on Wednesday. Time to regroup and re-establish their play-off credentials. There is no way it is too late but this game may define their season.
As for the sending-off: Both Grays Ath and Soham Town Rangers will want to put their sides of the story. Which in good time, they will.
Grays Ath. Kamurasi G, Pope C, Cooper G Baker J, Flynn L (Bunce D), Carlos J, Agombar H, Beaney K, Gordon N, Dennis L ( Siegere J) Olima P
Subs not used Thomas B, Small J, Bunn J