Grays Ath 1 v 1 Bognor Regis Town
Report by David Seaman
The woodwork twice denied Blues as they came close to recording their opening win of the season against last years league runners up Bognor Regis Town writes The Mariner.
Another spirited display from the Grays youngsters produced a fight back after going behind early in the first half.
Before the game a minutes silence was observed in memory of loyal Blues fan Bryan Nash who passed away recently.
Blues once again started brightly forcing a corner in the opening minutes but the first real effort of the game fell to Bognor striker Pearce who brought a comfortable save from Charlie Crowley recalled between the sticks .
The speedy David Fallah had the first opportunity for Grays breaking through the middle but he took one touch too many and the chance was lost.
Adeyinka Cole then sent in a free kick won at the back post by Jake Hutchings the ball dropped to Hafeez Sanusi but he lifted the ball over.
Bognor were beginning to find time and space in midfield as Blues failed to close down quickly enough ,Sanusi was being turned too easily allowing the visitors to get behind the home back four and it led to Bognor taking the lead.
Bognor again got behind the home defenders the ball was whipped across the box finding Fraser at the near post who had time and space to pick his spot in the 18th minute.
Blues came back strongly after the goal, Ronnie O’ Donell swung in a floated cross met by Lheureux Menga but his header failed to trouble Grainger in the visitors goal
Having seen enough manager Stuart entered the fray replacing Sanusi on the half hour mark and immediately tighten things up at the back.
As the game progressed both sides were finding the blustery conditions difficult play becoming fractured with little goalmouth action, although Cole did well jinking his way through midfield and testing Grainger with a rasping 25 yarder.
Daniel Ajakaiye replaced Wickham at half time as manager Stuart looked to inject more pace and take the game to Bognor.
Blues started the half in similar vein to their previous two games pushing the visitors back and once again Fallah provided the attacking spark ,Bognor were finding the wing mans pace hard to contain.
It was Fallah who conjured up a delightful cross ,Menga rose unchallenged and should have done better his header hitting the woodwork and rebounding into the grateful arms of Grainger.
A misplaced ball by Cole gave Bognor an opportunity, Pearce picked up the ball playing in Tuck who hit the side netting when well placed.
Stuart could have got his name on the scoresheet following a corner when his powerful header shaved the post.
Bognor were coming under increasing pressure and it was no surprise when Blues finally got the breakthrough and it was that man Fallah who was the catalyst.
In the 64th minute a darting run by the winger into the visitors box led to a despairing lunge by El-Abd, referee Crowhurst had no hesitation in pointing to the spot allowing Cole to step up and slot home the kick.
Not content with the goal Blues continued to pressure the visitors ,Ajakaiye was seeing plenty of the ball linking nicely with George Pilbeam down the right flank and with Cole they set up some neat interplay.
Having weathered the storm Bognor came more into the game the long throw of Charman causing problems at the back for Grays.
Ajakiye still looked menacing getting the better of his fullback but tended to over hit his crosses.
Bognor were not finished though, Wild tested Crowley and in the dying minutes the Grays man denied the onrushing Barnett punching clear from the edge of the box.
At the final whistle Bognor were probably satisfied with the draw, for the young Blues they would have been disappointed with the point having been denied twice by the woodwork.
So Blues continue to look for their first win but you can already see the fighting spirit the manager expects from his players and there were glimpses of the football they are capable of.
Blues now face two difficult away games against sides who have started brightly,first up is Leiston on Tuesday followed by a trip to the seaside on Saturday against newly promoted Worthing .