AFC Hornchurch 1 v 2 Grays Athletic
GRAYS ATHLETIC produced a performance with heart, skill, commitment and passion to take a vital three points in a 2-1 victory against AFC Hornchurch.
Grays hussled, harried, played together as a unit and showed buckets of zeal and enthusiasm which if they can maintain will surely see them safe at the end of the season.
Grays went very close in the third minute after Joao Carlos danced his way into the area, placed the ball past the keeper but the ball hit the post before being scrambled away by an Urchins defender.
There was a balanced look to Grays Ath and like Thursday, Nouble, Griffiths and Carlos seemed to have a natural understanding.
The Urchins first chance came in the 9th minute when Frankie Curley got a head onto a corner ball but it went astray.
But Gray Ath opened the scoring in the 12th minute when a Hornchurch player handled in the area. Joel Nouble calmly put the ball away.
Grays had taken the wind out of Hornchurch’s sails but they were a tough, physical side who were a challenge to compete with. But the Urchins were frustrated and letting the referee distract them. Meanwhile, Grays were playing deft little balls into the area that confused the home team.
But that brand of quick aggressive football from the Urchins started to dominate as the half went on.
However, in the 35th minute, Grays Ath made it 2-0. Leroy Griffiths found himself free on the left, he put a ball across to Joao Carlos. The ball looked like it was a little bit behind Carlos but the winger angled his body to produce a lovely half volley that flew past the keeper.
The first ten minutes of the second half were dominated by Grays as they seemed to have the home team under control. But in the 54th minute, The Urchins attacked and although Grays had them covered they still let them play their game which allowed full back Billy Coyne time to unleash a shot that got them back into the game.
This was now a testing time for the Blues. Lloyd Anderson produced a great save in the 60th minute to repel them but it was now a different game.
In the 65th minute, George Purcell sent a lovely cross to Joey May but he could not get the direction on the shot.
Silly mistakes crept into the Blues game and it seemed like a good time, like Hornchurch to make substitutions but Grays kept faith with their starting eleven. The eleven were working like Trojans as Hornchurch, stung by a poor performance against Canvey Island earlier in the week, knew how important this game was becoming for their season.
Sam Lechmere came on to inject pace and energy in the middle and he produced a great driving run in the 75th minute that got as far as the penalty area before Grays were able to stop him. A few minuted later Lechmere produced another shot that just went past the post.
However, Grays were getting plenty of possession as their commitment and energy levels never dropped for a second. Jeff Hammond and Ben Osman came on as the four minutes of injury time seemed to go on for ever.
In the 94th minute, Hornchurch were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. George Purcell lined it up but it went into the wall. They were then given a corner in the 96th minute, they scored but it was judged offside.
The whistle went and Andy Swallow’s men celebrated. They went over to the fans and then huddled together, knowing the significance of the two results in the last three days. It was a victory that will live long in the memory of Grays Ath fans.
Grays Athletic: Anderson L, Pope C, Kirby R, Yala R, Flynn L, Lalite L, Beaney K, Bunce D (Osman B 90), Griffith L (Hammond J 86), Nouble J, Carlos J (Eyong T 55)
Subs not used: Anderson P, Small J, Mytanda L
AFC Hornchurch: Echepare I, Starkey P, Coyne B, Styles E, Rainford D, Curley F, Spencer M (Lechmere S 77), May J, Payne S, Purcell G, Bourne C
Subs not used: Rook C, Bremner L
Referee: G Kane