By Chris Jones
BLUES made it three league wins on the spin, and a first win at home since mid-September with an excellent second half performance against Harlow Town
Manager, Hakan Hayrettin made one change from last weekend’s narrow win at Tilbury, with Joe Sweeney coming in for the suspended Jake Hall.
Blues had four players who featured for The Hawks last season, with Ryan Kirby and Leon Lalite starting, and Luke Marshall and James Bunn.
The match started with chances for both sides, with Jeff Hammond twice being denied by George Kamurasi. With West Ham United recalling young goalkeeper Jake Larkins, it is Kamurasi who has benefited most, and he made a number of good saves in the first half.
Bertrand Bossu in the Harlow goal then showed his quality, making an excellent one handed save from Joao Carlos’ fierce effort.
Dagenham & Redbridge loanee Thomas Davie gave the visitors the lead just before the half hour, coolly slotting past Kamurasi.
Danny Bunce came closest to levelling before half time, but his shot cannoned back off the foot of the post.
With the managers’ words ringing in their ears, and having been sent out early for the second half, Blues started brightly.
Harlow remained threatening, but Blues broke again down the left, and having got past his marker, Carlos was brought down by Mark Taylor. Harry Agombar stepped up, sending Bossu the wrong way to level the scores.
Danny Chapman’s side were reduced to ten men midway through the second half with Hector Mackie picking up a second yellow card, after he caught Carlos just outside the centre circle.
Substitute Luke Marshall linked well with Sweeney on the right-hand side of the area, and with Bossu saving his deft effort at goal, Carlos was on hand to steer the loose ball into the unguarded net.
Marshall then fizzed an effort just wide of the right-hand post, with Blues in the ascendancy, and looking to extend their lead.
With Carlos showing the kind of form that terrorised defences last season, it was just a matter of time before he got his second of the match. Much of the credit should go to Sweeney who laid the ball across goal from the right, leaving Carlos the simple task of tapping in at the back post.
His hat-trick followed two minutes later, as once again Sweeney turned provider from the right, which Carlos controlled with his chest before firing past Bossu.
Blues move into third in the table behind Maldon & Tiptree and Potters Bar Town, who both won this afternoon to remain unbeaten in the league.
Grays Athletic: – George Kamurasi, Craig Pope, Ryan Kirby, Junior Baker (Joe Nightingill 83), Danny Bunce, Joao Carlos (Tyrone Scarlett 86), Kenny Beaney, Leon Lalite, Harry Agombar, Joe Sweeney, Jack West (Luke Marshall 64)
Subs not used: – Lee Flynn, James Bunn