Soham Town Rangers 1 v 2 Grays Athletic
GRAYS Athletic went level on points at the top of the Ryman Div One North with a hard fought 2-1 victory at Soham.
This was another excellent “Taking care of business” performance by the Blues where everybody knew and executed their job.
The first corner of the game came in the second minute but Kenny Beaney’s effort was easily marshalled away by Soham.
Rangers replied in kind with two corners of their own. Soham have been the surprise package of the season and played an attacking game bursting through the Blues midfield.
Despite the testing conditions, Grays tried to play the ball on the ground.
Danny Bunce sent over two dangerous corners in the 11th minute that the Rangers keeper struggled to hold on to.
Soham should have scored when Sohams Robbie Smith burst through but Lamar Johnson saved well with his feet.
Grays went behind in the 18th minute when midfielder Neil Andrews produced a wonderful 25 yard strike.
Grays did not hold back and continued to fire in the crosses but Soham looked like they needed to be treated to a little more respect.
These were tricky conditions and Lamar Johnson was having a few problems.
In the 30th minute, Grays equalised when Joe Sweeney sneaked in at the far post to head home.
Grays now poured on the pressure as befits a team, bang on form. In the 40th minute, Joao Carlos produced a fine run down the right, crossed but Danny Bunce could not quite get to the ball.
Grays came out in the second half with the wind at their backs but the sleet was still driving hard.
Grays grabbed the lead in the 50th minute. Lee Flynn hammered in a free kick that the Soham keeper struggled to hold onto and Jack West pounced to jab the ball into the net for his fifteenth of the season and eight in eight games!
Grays nearly got the third when Jack West neatly slipped in the ball to Joao Carlos whose shot was smothered by the keeper.
Soham came back and were cutting through the Blues midfield but could not find that killer ball.
Both teams were giving their all as once again Beaney and Lalite took the match by the scruff of the neck.
This was exciting football. Soham were a bit kamikaze at the back but they matched it with expansive football up front. A corner in the 80th minute was bundled away, there was a shout for a penalty a moment later but Grays held firm.
A Danny Bunce twenty yard strike was tipped over the bar by the Soham keeper and at the other end Junior Baker headed the ball off the line.
But hold out is what a durable, committed and clever Grays Athletic did, as they went level and now go into a challenging Easter period in great shape.
Once again great credit to the boss Hakan who has carved out a great run and instilled a winners mentality. A year ago, Hakan sat in the car park at Soham, incandescent, after a miserable defeat which turned on Paul Olima being sent off. We have never seen a more focussed Hakan as he drives his team on for the next nine games.
The final nine games are tough. Grays have won ten league games in a row but in reality all that means is that they are now level in a two horse race. Having said that they look like Red Rum in the 1973 Grand National and Maldon look like Crisp.
But the final nine see battles against each of the other teams battling for promotion.
Final Nine are: (3pm unless stated)
March 26th: v Wroxham (away..7.45pm)
March 30th: v Romford (away…at Thurrock FC)
April 1st: v Aveley (home)
April 6th: v Ilford (away)
April 9th v Harlow (away..7.45 pm)
April 13th v Maldon and Tiptree (home)
April 20th v Thamesmead (away)
April 23rd v Heybridge (away..7.45pm)
April 27th v Waltham Abbey (Home)
Johnson L, Pope C, Kirby R, Baker J, Flynn L, Beaney K, Lalite L, Bunce D, Carlos J, West J, Sweeney J
Subs: Newby K, Marshall L, Subola D, East D, Moses B
Great video and report.
Just have to point out that it was my Man of the Match, Lee Flynn, not the equally excellent Danny Bunce, who powered in the freekick that led to our winner.
Thanks for changing the free kick taker to Flynn.
Also, the attendance was 209, not 201. Another 8 Grays supporters were there!