Friday, July 19, 2024

Football: Grays Ath troubles deepen with another defeat

Ryman League Premier

Grays Athletic 2 v 5 Harrow Borough

Report by Scott Lanza

GRAYS Athletic put in what can only be called a Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde performance on Wednesday evening against fellow relegation battlers Harrow Borough. A quarter of an hour into the game saw the Blues leading 2-0, playing some good football and looking to be in a commanding position. By the end of the game they had shipped five goals and were looking ragged. Over the course of ninety minutes the Blues showcased both their best and worst features, ending up with no points when they had placed themselves into a very good position to capture all three.

The Blues got off to a glorious start as Joao Carlos used his speed to outrun the Boro defence and knock a diagonal ball into the box to Lheureux Menga. The Blues marksmen had his back to goal but turned quickly and rifled past Brendon Hazlett.

The Blues did not let off and Jonathan Ashton forced Hazlett into a frantic save after he pounced on a free kick that worked its way into the Boro penalty box. Matthew Baxter carved out an opening when he moved the ball onto Menga who set up Carlos. The resulting shot left Hazlett stranded but the ball only just landed the wrong side of the cross bar. Grays were attacking with real fervour, whilst keeping it tight at the back and it came to no surprise when they doubled their lead in the 14th minute. Carlos was again involved, his initial shot being blocked and Menga reacted quickly to stab the ball into the net.

It had been an excellent start by Grays but the visitors pulled one back in the 17th minute. Kurtis Cumberbatch drilled in a shot from the left flank that hit the underside of the cross bar and George Nicholas pounced on the rebound and side footed it past Tangara. Up to that point it had been Harrow’s first real shot on the Grays goal. The Blues stuck to their task, looked very dangerous going forward as Baxter and Campbell delivered quality balls to the Blues frontline and the Boro defence were not afraid to use rough house tactics to stem the Grays attacking moves. Frustratingly for the Grays faithful Mr Warren was a little bit too lenient on the Boro defence and they were able to get away with all manners of infringements.

Tangara had to block a Marc Charles-Smith effort in the 34th minute and just before half-time Michael Bryan was able to get behind the Grays defence and delivered a cross that Lewis Driver headed wide. It had been a good half for the Blues, the defence and midfield battled for every ball, they kept their shape and had taken their chances when they had materialised.

The Blues needed to get back on the boil as the second half opened but Boro were back on level terms within six minutes of the re-start. Nicholas delivered a ball across the Blues six yard box and it reached an unmarked Kurtis Cumberbatch he made no mistake from close range.

The Blues almost regained their lead after a quick-paced move ended up with Bishop passing to Lartey Sarpong, whose shot was smothered by Hazlett. However this was no resurgence but more a last look at Grays’ attacking ability as Harrow had their tails up now they were back on level terms and Cumberbatch tried his hand at being a provider midway through the half with a pass that reached an unmarked Charles-Smith. The Boro captain let fly with a powerful shot that Tangara did extremely well to tip away. With Boro now attacking more frequently, coupled with the fact that the visitors had shut up shop in the defence, meant that Bishop and Menga were not getting supplied and so as the half progressed the Blues were not attacking with the same flair that they had attacked with at the start of the game.

It got progressively worse for the Blues at the other end. A free kick was awarded after Harry Newman was fouled by Kieran Bishop and whilst the ball was still in flight, Driver tumbled after an alleged push in the box. It didn’t look like heavy contact had been made but Mr Warren thought otherwise and Driver put Harrow in front after he smashed the resulting penalty past Tanagra. From looking dead and buried, the visitors were now in control and the visitors made it 4-2 in the 75th minute when the referee awarded another Harrow free kick after an innocuous challenge. Nicholas lifted the ball over the Grays wall and Shaun Preddie got on the end of it, nodding it past Tangara.

Jon Ashton may have forced Hazlett to dive low to his right to keep out his shot in the 81st minute but after conceding a fourth goal the Blues did not look like getting back into the game and Andy Lomas almost scored Boro’s fifth with a thunderous drive that Tangara tipped over the bar. The resulting corner flashed across the Grays goalmouth and Tangara was able to get a hand to the ball to push it away but it fell kindly to Driver who slotted the ball home to compound the hosts’ misery.

Grays Athletic: Amadou Tangara, Ryan Mahal, Barney Williams, Lartey Sarpong, Jonathan Ashton, Luke Wilson, Matthew Baxter, Nathan Campbell (Capt), Lheureux Menga, Kieran Bishop, Joao Carlos (Etienne Mukanya Kabobola 76)

Scorer – Lheureux Menga (2′, 14′)

Harrow Borough: Brendon Hazlett, Josh Webb, Andy Lomas, Danny Hicks, Shaun Preddie, Joshua Webb (Harry Newman 58), Kurtis Cumberbatch, George Nicholas, Marc Charles-Smith (Capt), Lewis Driver, Michael Bryan

Scorers – George Nicholas (19′), Kurtis Cumberbatch (51′), Lewis Driver (71′, 83′), Shaun Preddie (75′

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