Thursday, May 30, 2024

Football: Stones roll over Grays Ath as Blues crash out of FA Cup

FA Cup Second Qualifying Round

Grays Ath 0 v 5 Maidstone United

GRAYS ATH were humiliated by a resurgent Maidstone United in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup at Rush Green.

Grays started brightly with Leon Lalite pinging the ball from the middle, trying to split the Stone’s defence.

The first chance of the game came when Nicky Humphrey produced a glancing header from the dangeorus long throw from Alex Flisher but it went over.

This was an expansive game in perfect conditions. Both teams were trying to carve out chances but none of them were clear-cut.

In the 19th minute, James Bunn shielded the ball near to the pen spot, passed off to Jake Hall but his shot was blocked.

At the other end, George Kamarusi made a fine save from just outside the box whilst Craig Pope nearly got his defence in trouble after dwelling on the ball. Infact, Grays started to find themselves under the cosh.

Junior Baker implored his team to “Get a hold of this match” and you could see his point. However, Maidstone had a very well organised defence and Grays were starting to drift offside.

Grant Cooper produced two pieces of superb last ditch defending as Maidstone sensed a goal.

Grays ended the half with a series of corners. Joaa Carlos sent over two and Jake Hall one but they never truly troubled the Stones.

Grays started the second half trying to kick-start their passing game. One silky move saw the ball spread across the park but Luke Marshall’s final pass when in the box went astray.

But Maidstone looked a yard faster than Grays Ath and with Kaiyne Woolery dominating on the right a goal felt just a moment away.

Luke Marshall was having a poor game and so it was no surprise when Danny Bunce came on.

In the 60th minute, a Joao Carlos shot flashed across the area as the Blues started to get a little more territory.

The Stones got their just desserts in the 68th minute when Paul Booth took the ball at the edge of the area and deftly curled it around the keeper.

The goal was symptomatic of Gray’s problems. He was unmarked, given acres of time and picked his spot.

Grays committed to attack but even a midfield burst from Carlos was easily snuffed out.

As the heat intensified so the Grays keeper, Kamarusi became more erratic and with Danny Bunce at right midfield, there was a lack of width in the midfield.

Maidstone wrapped it up with a cracking shot from thirty yards by Ben Davisson and added more insult with another in the 79th minute.

The fourth goal exposed Lee Flynn’s lack of pace as Sam Bewick was allowed to run from the half way line to the area and smack the ball home.

The fifth goal was a case of deja vu as Alex Flisher shot from close range.

Grays will need to have a long hard look at themselves. They can beat the mid-table also rans in the Ryman Division One North but really buckled under the microscope of a fit team, well-drilled, well motivated who defended with two banks of four.

You just know that their manager like any ambitious manager, watched Grays on Tuesday night and returned with five or six salient points. Two men on Carlos, exploit the “uncertainty” in the defence and get to the ball first.

Grays return to league action at home on Tuesday against Soham Town Rangers.

Grays Ath

Kamarusi G, Pope C, Flynn L, Baker J, Cooper G, Lalite L (Beaney K 69), Hall J (West J 80), Marshall L (Bunce D 58), Carlos J, Bunn J, Sweeney J

Subs not used: Scarlett T, Kirby R, East D,, Richards J, Fry D

Maidstone United

Ibrahim D, Cooper R, Osborne T, Humphrey N, Mills T, Olorunda T, Davisson B (Phillips M 82), Woolery K (Bewick S 62), Welford S, Booth P (Draycott I 78), Flisher A.

Subs not used: Saunders J, Ward S,Lye D, Mitten C

Referee: Dave Bushell

Att: 345

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