Ryman Div One North
Grays Ath 4 v 1 Potters Bar Town
GRAYS Athletic continued their push for promotion with an impressive 4-1 victory against Potters Bar Town.
The gap between them and faltering leaders Maldon and Tiptree is now just six points but the Blues have four games in hand.
It was a minor miracle that the match was on after a deluge of rain (well done to the ground staff and fork-bearing fans!) and to a great extent the sodden pitch was dictating the match, early on, as players struggled with the conditions.
In the 10th minute, Leon Lalite found himself in a perfect position in the box but miscued completely but the midfielder still had enough deft touches to dominate the midfield.
Potters Bar won the first corner of the game but the cross was easily handled by Lamar Johnson. And they had a great chance when Smithee broke free fired the ball goalwards but the outstretched leg of Lamar Johnson again saved the day.
The breakthrough came in the 27th minute when Danny Bunce made a strong run into the area, passed the ball across. It found Jared Small who picked his spot to power the ball home.
This is a strong determined Grays Athletic who have an impressive focus about them. They showed that once again in the 33rd minute when Danny Bunce delivered a perfect corner and it was met by a bullet header by Kenny Beaney that went straight into the net.
Potters Bar got back into the match with a freak goal as Lee Close’s free kick from 40 yards out bounced unpredictably over Johnson and in.
What should have been a smooth passage, now became a tense game as Grays struggled to re-assert themselves.
They nearly did in the 56th minute when Kenny Beaney unleashed a great shot towards goal only to see the Bar keeper Thompson tip the ball over the bar.
With Joe Sweeney having a quiet one, Grays needed a plan B. The B must have stood for Bunce as Danny strode through midfield, danced past two defenders and fired the ball home.
The man of the match, Leon Lalite got his just desserts when he banged in the fourth goal from close range.
New loan signing, Kris Newby came on for the last five minutes and received a warm reception from the Grays faithful.
This was Gray’s eight straight league win. Why have they hit such a rich vein of form? Good management for a start. There is an air and a strategy that concentrates on doing the basics well. Lamar Johnson is an excellent keeper and not prone to errors like George Kamarusi. The defence of Pope, Baker, Kirby and Flynn are also vastly experienced and are using every ounce of that ability to marshal the team.
A central midfield pairing of Lalite and Beaney has been absolutely vital. There was too much emotional distraction with Jake Hall. These two, again, are solid, effective, talented and bring the wide men and attackers into the game. Danny Bunce has turned into the Ryman Gareth Bale and Joao Carlos, at some stage, in 90 minutes, will worry the defence.
Goals are coming from everywhere. The pairing of Jeff Hammond and Jared Small was inspirational but Jack West is putting in a shift (and scoring) and Joe Sweeney is also showing confidence.
Grays Ath entertain Tilbury at Rush Green on Tuesday night at 7.45pm. If they win, the gap will be just three points.
Grays Ath: Johnson L, Kirby R, Baker J, Flynn L, Lalite L (Subola D 81), Bunce D (Newby K 85), West J, East D, Sweeney J, Beaney K, Small J (Carlos J 71)
Subs not used: Honeyball S,