Grays Ath 2 v 0 Canvey Island
By David Seaman
Courtesy of Grays Athletic
MANAGER Jamie Stuart probably didn’t need to motivate his players following comments from the opposition manager in a local paper,far from being well beatable Blues showed grit and determination to beat a Canvey side who looked a pale shadow from seasons past.Two wins in as many games and a clean sheet leaves them just a point behind Harrow Borough and just three points behind todays opponents.
Stuart made one change to the starting eleven selecting himself at left back with Ryan Mahal switching to right back.
Blues started brightly playing with real purpose in the opening minutes,Lheureux Menga had Blues first opportunity trying his luck with a snapshot just missing the upright.
Canvey came close when Gilbey who started the move fed Jomandy the ball eventually fell to Gilbey but his shot was blocked and cleared by Terrell Forbes.
Blues tactic of playing the ball forward quickly was paying off, the speedy Kieron Bishop had the measure of the Canvey central pairing who looked decidedly short of pace.It was Bishop who had Blues next opportunity,good build up play between Harry Watkins and Mahal saw the latter send in a pin point cross to the head of the Blues striker but his effort looped over the bar.
The visitors came close at the other end when Jomandy hit a crisp drive from the edge of the box which Amadou Tangara did well to turn behind for a corner.
The industrious Kwabena Osei then produced a sweeping diagonal pass which found Harry Watkins who had ghosted into the far post he prodded the ball goal-ward which was saved by the visitors keeper Moore.
The game ebbed and flowed at this stage with neither side creating a clear cut chance but then in the 39th minute Blues broke the deadlock. Awarded a free kick on the edge of the Canvey area Watkins and Stuart lined up behind the ball and with Canvey expecting Watkins to try a strike on goal he laid it off to the advancing Stuart who struck a low drive which took a slight deflection off Sheehan and beyond Moore.
Canvey responded well forcing a corner from the restart but Blues defence held firm and the ball was cleared,at the other end a Blues corner found Menga but his effort came to nothing.
Blues had enjoyed a good deal of possession in the first half and looked good value for their one goal lead looking solid at the back, and with the increasingly impressive Bishop having the measure of the Canvey back four Blues fans were probably hoping they could register another quick goal .
Canvey had other ideas and began to push Blues back but they were met by a determined home rearguard that to a man defended with real purpose led again by Forbes who with Bishop are proving to be inspired signings.
The visitors enjoyed long periods of possession winning a succession of corners and free kicks and the important second ball but despite this they were not creating any real shooting chances and did not test Tangara.
Blues were feeding off scraps but still looked threatening when they broke forward Jamie Mascoll again pushed into midfield provided an outlet where he used his pace to get down the flanks .
Canvey continued to push forward without reward the closest they came to levelling the score came courtesy of Jordan Aghatise who sliced his attempted clearance, the ball looped dangerously close to the goal and only a desperate dive from Tangara saved the day.
Blues made sure of the three points in the 86th minute and it was simplicity itself,from Tangara’s goal kick Bishop using his pace muscled his way between two Canvey defenders and slid the ball past the advancing Moore his fourth goal in four starts.
With the two goal cushion Blues comfortably saw out the closing minutes and again at the final whistle their loyal fans applauded long and loud in what had been another display full of fight and character.
With a second win in a week Blues are now looking a more resilient outfit and difficult to break down and they now have in Kieron Bishop a quality finisher who has the pace and killer instinct that Blues have lacked over the last few seasons.Four goals in four starts tell its own story.
Blues move on to Hendon onTuesday evening at their new home in Kingsbury complete with 3G playing surface,confidence will be high and fans will be hoping that they can can continue their revival and close the gap on teams above them.