Ryman Div One North
Needham Market 0 v 1 Grays Ath
GRAYS Ath bounced back from last weeks’ defeat to take three vital points winning 1-0 at Needham Market.
Grays had made a number of changes on the back of the Cheshunt defeat with Jack West starting, hoping to forge a partnership, with the so far underwhelming Jeff Hammond.
There was no Harry Agombar but it appears that John Docker had been re-signed as he was on the bench. There was still no sign of assistant manager Hasan Oktay.
It was also great to see keeper Lamar Johnson back who had been wonderful before being injured in September and he made a timely intervention from a cross in the 6th minute.
An early Danny Bunce free kick flew past the Market post as Grays looked a lot more balanced than recently.
Another free kick briefly threatened as did a Joao Carlos shot as Needham started to show why they had not won a game at home all season.
Grays earned another corner after a dangerous free kick from Bunce. He then fired in a corner which Jeff Hammond got his head to. There was doubt if it went over the line but the assistant ref was perfectly placed to put Grays 1-0 up.
Bunce was on fire as he enjoyed the acres of space on the left. He fired in another shot in the 25th minute which the Market keeper did well to save.
Grays were lining up their chances. Joaa Carlos went wide again in the 26th minute.
In the 30th minute, Bunce broke on the left passed to Jack West, who put in a precise cross to Jeff Hammond, who headed onto the bar.
Needham were frankly awful, leaving gaps all over the place and failing to track back. How they missed Sam Newsom. It has clearly been hard to watch for the friendly home fans.
Needham’s first corner of the game came after a Lamar Johnson fumble but they could not cash in.
Again, Hammond missed another gilt edged chance after missing a free header three yards out.
A strong Jack West run down the left heralded the opening of the second half. Needham went on the offensive bit twice within a minute fell foul of the offside trap.
Needham were starting to dominate but having not won a home league game since March, they had no confidence in front of goal.
The game got bogged down with no clear cut chances for either side but that did not stop Kenny Beaney and Leon Lalite putting a shift in.
Grays Ath had a great chance to put the game beyond doubt when they were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute but the singularly umimpressive Jack West had his penalty saved by the brave Lewis Johnson.
Needham just could not get going. Grays continued to a plan. They never lost their shape and put a real shift in to secure the three points.
With Maldon dropping two home points, Grays just need to plough on. Lamar looked a little rusty but he is clealry a class keeper. The defence were solid all day. Danny Bunce loved marauding down the left and the maturity and experience of Leon Lalite and Kenny Beaney must be given the responsibility to lead the team down the middle for the rest of the season.
Unfortunately, up front is still a problem and has been, for Hak since July 2011. To be fair to Jack West he put a shift in and got to connect with Danny Bunce on the left and gave Kenny Beaney and Leon Lalite time to get up. Jeff Hammond could say: “I am a striker and I struck, end of..”
It may well do no harm to say, these are our eleven and with a very attacking bench, i.e: no defenders (whatever happened to Grant Cooper?).
Grays Athletic: Johnson L, Pope C, Kirby R, Baker J, Bunce D, Carlos J, Lalite L, Beaney K, West J, Flynn L (capt), Hammond J.
Subs not used: Hall J, Sweeney J, Marshall L, Dodge H, Small J, Docker J