Ryman Div One North
Grays Ath 3 v 2 Ilford
GRAYS surrendered a two goal league but an own goal by plucky Ilford in the 85th minute keeps the Blues in the promotion shake up.
Grays earned a free kick in the first minute. Harry Agombar swung it in and Ilford got it away for a corner. Grays were looking to continue where they left off on Wednesday.
James Bunn was ploughing a furrow up front in a format that seemed to suit the Blues.
Ilford nearly scored in the 5th minute when Grays keeper Kamurasi fumbled a cross from Ilford’s Shane Stamp but the Foxes couldn’t get the ball home.
In the 7th minute, neat interplay saw Joao Carlos put through by Harry Agombar but his side-footed shot went just wide.
Grays thought they had the opener in the 10th minute after a dangerous free kick was bundled home but the assistant linesman flagged for offside.
Like many games, it was all Grays. The team were on their toes and Ilford were very brittle.
Grays should have had a penalty in the 24th minute when Carlos was upended but the winger is on fire and in the 33rd minute, he broke free on the right hand side of the box and fired the ball into the net.
Ilford had come looking for the draw and now had to come out. A second nearly came as the ball pinged around the net but Grays couldn’t find the killer ball.
Carlos nearly got a second when Jake Hall produced a wonderful cross field pass but Carlos’ shot skimmed across the goal.
Grays went out looking for the second as the second half commenced and it worked as Carlos got the second with a tap in in the 47th minute.
Ilford had been on a good run of form but were now looking tired. Jake Hall wasn’t as the young man continued to show flair and invention all over the pitch.
But from nowhere, Ilford were given a penalty by an increasingly erratic referee. Danny Gabriel stepped up in the 53rd minute but it was superbly saved by George Kamurasi. But a minute later, Rob Carter broke through to make the score 2-1.
It was Grays who now looked brittle. Their tackles were mis-timed and lost their fluency. In the 60th minute, Ilford got back level. A free kick was floated onto the left, Flavin volleyed it across and Danny Gabriel volleyed home from close range.
Grays mounted attacks. A Junior Baker header went close from a corner. A minute later, Lee Flynn should have done better as his free kick in a prime spot floated over everyone.
Anthony Ryan and Danny Bunce came on to freshen things up. Nathan Gordon was continuing to plug away down the flank but Grays were hardly worrying Ilford.
The last throw of the die was Joe Sweeney coming on for a concussed Joao Carlos.
It was Ilford who looked like they could get the winner. Shane Stamp danced round Lee Flynn who along with Grant Cooper seemed tired. As usual, Junior Baker saved the day.
A Joe Sweeney shot went just wide in the 83rd minute.
But Grays have a superman and his name is Junior Baker and in the 85th minute, from a Harry Agombar free kick, he put such pressure in the area that the Ilford defender headed into his own net.
Grays were still giving away so much possession as the minutes ticked away. In injury time, Ilford attackers charged into the area but Grays defenders kept their heads to defend manfully and capture the three points.
Grays Ath: Kamurasi G, Pope C, Flynn L, Cooper G, Baker J, Carlos J (Sweeney J 78), Gordon N, Beaney K, Agombar H, Hall J (Bunce D 75), Bunn J (Ryan A 68 )
Subs not used: Sigere J-M, Olima P