Saturday, June 22, 2024

Football: Grays can’t arrest decline against Police

Ryman Premier

Grays Ath 0 v 2 Met Police

Report by Dave Seaman

Met Police Arrest Blues Winning Run

Dismal Blues failed to build on recent results at Mill Field on Saturday. You are only as good as your last game it is often said; unfortunately this disappointing defeat only goes to prove the point. Blues were a pale imitation of the team who had produced two excellent wins with a performance that lacked all the ingredients which had brought them two moral boosting victories and it was former Blues favourite Roman Michael-Percil who came back to haunt them with the decisive second goal for the visitors.

Blues started brightly enough and could have gone in front as early as the opening three minutes when Ryan Mahal played a searching pass into Blues marksman Kieron Bishop but he was denied by two Met defenders just as he shaped to shoot.

That was to be the only real goal mouth action in the opening quarter as both sides failed to engineer any opportunities in front of goal, the blustery conditions were causing problems making fluent football difficult and as a result play became increasingly scrappy with a number of stoppages for injuries detracting from the quality of play.

The visitor’s main threat in the early stages was coming from the long throws of Mugabo coupled with the mazy runs of Michael-Percil and with the wind at their backs the Met began to assert territorial advantage which was to lead to them taking the lead in the 21st minute. Awarded a free kick wide on Blues left there appeared little danger when the ball was played into the home area but hesitation and confusion with Blues defenders expecting keeper Amadou Tangara to come for the ball allowed Sutherland to steal in and bundle the ball home. The same player came close to a second when he saw his header just clear the crossbar from a free kick.

Blues midfield which had served them so well in the previous two games, was misfiring badly, playing with little energy which allowed the visitors to dictate proceedings. Blues goal opportunities were few and far between but Bishop did have a chance which he failed to take when he latched on to a loose ball, but his shot lacked power and accuracy and was cleared away.

Michael-Percil continued to pose a threat down the flanks; one run saw him dance past three challenges and then laying the ball into Macklin who’s shot was blocked at the last minute. At the other end Chidi Williams Agunabor should have done better when he snatched at the ball following a corner and blasted wildly over.

The Met continued to enjoy a good deal of possession and looked good value for their lead but Blues nearly snatched an equaliser as the half came to a close when Joao Carlos capitalised on a defensive header and fired in a 20 yard drive which whistled just over.

After a low key first half showing Blues management would have been looking for a reaction and a much more energetic showing in the second half . Lartey Sarpong replaced the ineffectual Kwabene Osei but any hope that Blues could get back on level terms was dashed with just four minutes played and it was Michael -Percil who claimed the goal. Picking the ball up wide on Blues’ right, he outstripped Mahal; then striding forward unchallenged he cut inside and advanced towards the edge of the Blues box and unleashed a stunning shot which flashed past Tangara and into the top corner.

The goal now left Blues with a mountain to climb if they were to salvage a result from the encounter and with the wind at their backs hope was there that they could do just that, but they failed to use the wind effectively, pumping high balls forward which was bread and butter for the Met defenders, who either cleared with ease or let the overhit ball run through to keeper Daly. As a consequence Blues’ front runners were starved of any quality ball.

A brief flurry of activity saw Williams-Agunabor just fail to connect with a header and he then saw his fierce drive saved well by Daly. Sarpong then saw a header clear the crossbar.

The Met were now content to sit back on their two goal advantage not committing players forward at corners or free kicks; even so they were still finding plenty of space as the home side failed to pick up runners off the ball.

Just after the hour mark saw the introduction of Etienne Mukanya Kababola at the expense of Matt Baxter who had one of his quieter games by his standards. Kababola looked lively and for a time there appeared more urgency in Blues’ play. Carlos set off on one of his trade mark runs beating his fullback and cutting inside and with a sight of goal he really should have done better, but fired tamely at Daley who saved comfortably .

It was Kababola’s turn next when he unleashed a thunderbolt that crashed against the framework and moments later he almost repeated the effort, this time fizzing a shot past the upright. Joe Payne was next to try his luck from distance but Daly did well to get to the ball. The Met were not finished though when Macklin came close, seeing his effort deflected behind.

Blues were in the final ten minutes showing signs of exerting some pressure on the visitors goal but it was all too little too late. A flowing move saw Barney Williams presented with an opportunity but his drive was turned over by Daly and the resultant corner failed to produce a goal scoring opportunity.

So a hugely frustrating result saw Grays Athletic fail to build on the last two victories and the old problem of inconsistency which has dogged them this season came to bear again. Next week’s encounter with fellow strugglers Canvey now takes on huge significance. The fight shown against Billericay and Harrow needs to be in evidence as anything less will leave the Blues in a perilous state.

Grays Athletic: Amadou Tangara, Ryan Mahal, Joe Payne, Nathan Campbell, Joe Ashton, Chidi Williams-Agunabor (Jamie Stewart 82′), Barney Williams, Kwabena Osei (Lartey Sarpong 45′), Matthew Baxter (Etienne Mukanya Kabobola 66′), Kieran Bishops, Joao Carlos.

Metropolitan Police: Branon Daly, Sam Williams, Will Salmon, Steve Sutherland, Alfred Mugabo (Bradley Wilson 78′), Rob Bartley, Tom Hickey, Ahmed Abbulla, Charlie Collins, Lloyd Macklin, Roman Michael-Percil.

Scorers – Steve Sutherland (21′), Roman Michael-Percil (49′)

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