Football: Grays held at bay in exciting derby

Ryman Premier

Grays Athletic 2 v 2 Billericay Town

GRAYS will feel they let go of three points as a James Robinson free header earned Billericay a draw at Mill Field.

Both teams played entertaining, spirited football that went from end to end for ninety minutes.

Chuck Duru’s’s first foray down the right was stopped by a great tackle from former Blue, George Beavan who then passed to (you guessed it) Glenn Poole.

On the other flank, Joao Carlos was terrifying the Billericay defenders and in the 10th minute was brought down just outside the box. Kenny Beaney’s free kick did not trouble the keeper.

The deadlock was broken in the 20th minute. Javlon Campbell pounced on a mistake got to the deadball line, pulled it back and Javlon Sappleton thumped it home from just inside the box.

The goal had come against the run of play and Grays kept the pressure up but the chances were half-chances at the most.

The first time, Lamar Johnson was really tested was after Evans Kouassi jinked his way past a number of defenders before shooting low. Johnson did well to save.

Grays were playing with just Jack West up front and it wasn’t working. The midfield were working hard but did not have an outlet.

Craig Pope and Glenn Poole were getting on really well. Or not and it was no surprise when they both went in the book.

The half ended on a sour note, when it appeared that Grays keeper, Lamar Johnson seemed to be upset about a comment from the crowd. One of the fans (who appeared to be a Billericay supporter) attempted to climb over onto the pitch but was ushered away.

Jeff Hammond replaced Jack West for the second half. He nearly made an impression, when he took down a long ball with great close control. It left him with just the keeper to beat but his shot was weak.

Both wingers now seemed to have a lease of life with Chuck Duru able to use his speed.

After a couple of corners, the pressure was on. In the 55th minute, Chuck Duru burst through the middle of the area and hammered the ball home. It was a testament to a brave substitution.

And there was more to come. In the 59th minute, Joao Carlos juggled the ball in the area, he beat the two defenders in the box and hit the ball low into the back of the net.

It was pace that was now the difference between the two teams and Billericay looked leaden footed.

Carlos should have made it three after missing a golden chance in the 72nd minute from four yards out but blasted it over. Kenny Beaney did the same a couple of minutes later after great work by Alex Cruickshank.

But those misses were costly when, in the 76th minute, Glenn Poole floated over a free kick and an unmarked James Robinson was able to nod it home from close range.

Another Hammond burst through and shoot was parried away by Billy Lumley.But Grays couldn’t get that vital third goal.

It was one of Grays best performances of the season but they will go away thinking they should have got all three points.

However, in our humble opinion, the second half was the most entertaining 45 minutes of the season for Grays. With the two men on the flanks and Jeff Hammond rampant in the middle, they certainly have the potential to do well in this league.

Credit has to be given to the management team for changing things at half time.

Grays Ath: Johnson L, Pope C, Baker J, Anderson P, Lalite L, Duru C, Flynn L, Beaney K, West J (Hammond J 46), Cruickshank A (Small J 84) Carlos J

Subs not used: Maxwell R, Kamarusi G, Nightingill J

Billericay Town: Lumley B, Imudia J (Webber C 66), Beavan G, Dunne C, Halle R, Udoji U, Collis D, Poole G, Sappleton R, Campbell J (Robinson J 73), Kouassi E (Luke J 87)

Subs not used:Scott R, , Lette-Jallow M

Referee: Matthew Goldsmith

Attendance: 313

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