VCD Athletic 3 v 1 Grays Athletic
A 3-1 scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story as Blues go down to a physical VCD Athletic writes The Mariner
Blues undefeated preseason programme came to a halt at Crayford on Tuesday evening but it could have been a different outcome but for some bizarre refereeing decisions which denied them two clear penalties .
Manager Jamie Stuart was forced to shuffle the pack and once again Blues fielded a mix of first team, youth and trialist with a makeshift back four and midfield .
In the early stages Blues passes were being under hit on a lush playing surface causing some promising moves to breakdown.
Jamie Slabber produced Blues first opportunity when he cleverly turned his marker but missed the target firing over ,at this stage Blues looked comfortable on the ball ,Kieron Bishop was making some powerful runs out wide supported by the increasingly impressive James Folkes but it was the final ball in dangerous areas that was lacking.
VCD gave a taste of what Blues can expect at this lower level combining aggressive running with some meaty challenges sometimes not always checked by the referee.One flowing move saw Aldis do well to turn the ball over .Gradually Blues began to exert a modicum of pressure with Barry Cogan prompting in midfield.Slabber and Bishop combined well when Bishop latched onto a flick from his striking partner but saw his volley well saved.
Blues looked the more likely to open the scoring but VCD had other ideas . In the 24th minute they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area ,Aldis failed to hold on to the ball allowing a VCD forward a simple tap in.
Blues weren’t behind for long though when in the 27th minute a smart pass from Carlos saw Bishop through on goal and he cooly drilled the ball past the home keeper to restore parity.
Both sides had further chances as the half progressed, Bishop played in Folkes who saw his fierce effort saved and then a great cross from Kieran Hughes-Mason saw Slabber clattered by the VCD keeper it looked like a nasty injury but fortunately he recovered although as a precaution he was substituted by the aptly named Rivaldo Nunez who was quickly into his stride with a dangerous run.
After the interval VCD upped the tempo and for a time Blues were chasing shadows and only some desperate defending kept their goal intact,but not before a neat passage of play saw Folkes send in a low cross where Bishop first to react prodded the ball past the upright with the keeper beaten.
VCD edged in front on 50 minutes when Nunez lost possession on the half way line, a quick ball forward caught the Blues back line square leaving the VCD number 9 in space where he lashed the ball into the top corner past Aldis.
Folkes came close after a great run and shot which just sizzled past the upright, it was to be his last contribution being replaced by Denzil Adebiye together with a number of changes Ronnie O’Donnell replacing Cross,Stuart for Dunne and Furo Gogo-Ibiama replacing Cogan .The changes disrupted Blues allowing VCD to dominate possession for long periods .
Nunez squandered a golden opportunity to level the scores missing the target with the goal at his mercy after a great cross from O’Donnell,Bishop then powered into the VCD area and went down from a clumsy challenge it looked a clear penalty but the referee thought otherwise one among many odd decisions as the game became more physical.
VCD increased their advantage in the 75th minute and it was a goal that could so easily have been prevented,Aldis somehow allowed an innocuous shot to slip from his grasp for a corner the ball was only half cleared and from the subsequent cross a VCD forward rose unchallenged and steered the ball home.
Blues tried to get back into the game but the changes disrupted the fluency of their movement and coupled with some robust challenges chances were few ,but they were denied what looked another clear penalty when Bishop one on one with the keeper was bundled to the ground as he made contact with the ball .
A first defeat then for the Blues but as with previous games nothing too much should be read into the result given the makeshift eleven on the night .One worry for the management though would have been the injuries Slabber and Bishop looked to have sustained in a game that belied it’s friendly status .
This Saturday 5th August sees the Blues playing their first game at Parkside against Sittingbourne ,fans are reminded the kick off will be 4.30