Grays Athletic 4 v 2 Aveley
BY Tim Burr
TENANTS Grays Athletic showed their swagger on the pitch to record a bank holiday victory over landlords Aveley in front of 322 fans and debutant match reporter, Tim Burr.
Under clear blue skies and warm temperatures Grays and Aveley locked horns for the first time at the impressive Parkside Stadium. Despite being the “away” side, Millers have taken to life at their new home well and were in no mood to lie down for their tenants and a bright start in the opening minutes by Aveley looked like they would carry on in similar style.
Grays came more into the game and started to control proceedings and had their first chance after 12 minutes when full back Ryan Mahal won the ball on the edge of the Aveley box and fired in a shot just over the bar. A couple of minutes later Grays talisman, Kieran Bishop, broke free but scuffed his shot wide. This miss proved costly as a minute later Michael Osei capitalised on the Grays defence hesitating to clear the ball and he rounded former Miller Lamar Johnson in the Grays goal to put Aveley 1-0 up. A foul by Grays striker Jamie Slabber midway through the first half allowed referee Carl Pearse to give the players a drinks break as temperatures remained in the high twenties as the afternoon wore on.
The drinks break seemed to galvanise Blues as they had control of large portions of the play now holding on to the ball for long periods at a time and an equaliser looked increasingly likely and it duly arrived in the 36th minute when Joao Carlos slammed a loose ball into the roof of the net after the Aveley defence failed to properly clear a cross. With the first half entering injury time, Carlos was clumsily upended in the box and a penalty was awarded. Kieran Bishop made no mistake and sent keeper Rhys Madden the wrong way as Grays went in at the break 2-1 up.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with Aveley pressing forward and former Blue Jack West had a shot from distance but failed to trouble Lamar Johnson. Grays once again got back into the game as the half wore on and the influential Ade Cole was starting to find more and more space in midfield but a series of efforts from the midfielder failed to test Madden. Aveley had a chance to equalise when substitute Jordan Watson found himself free in the Grays penalty box but he was well smothered by keeper Johnson before he could get a shot away. Kiernan Hughes-Mason was starting to be a thorn in the Aveley side and he was starting to get fouled a lot by the Aveley defence which led to an exchange of words between the two official Twitter accounts of the clubs about the amount of free kicks Blues were getting, such is the modern way in football these days!
Grays made their now dominance count in the 72nd minute when defender Glenn Wilson looped a side foot volley back across goal from a corner kick and it somehow evaded Madden in the Aveley goal and it took a few seconds for the roar from the Grays fans to emerge as it became clear the ball had gone in the goal.
In the 82nd minute Mason-Hughes made the game safe for Blues as he latched onto a weak backpass and slotted pass Madden to make it 4-1. With the game coming to a close, Aveley broke forward and Perry Dunn brought down Jack West in the area and referee Pearse had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Adam Bolle stepped up and lashed home the spot kick but in reality it was only a consolation as Grays took the points on a day that see them finally rewarded after good displays this season and also the emergence of young 16 year old Kai Brown who delivered a lively and mature display as a second half substitute.
GRAYS ATH: Johnson, Mahal, Cross, Cogan (Stuart 85), Dunn, Wilson, Slabber (Brown 45), Cole, Bishop, Hughes-Mason, Carlos
Unused subs: Fowler, Gogo-Ibiama, Thompson
AVELEY: Madden, Twamsui, Woodward, Pinto, Spillane, Barry, Gibbs (Watson 62), Mitchell (Watkins 45), West, Gleed (Bolle 62), Osei
Unused subs: Gordon, Maja
Booked: Woodward, Pinto, Watkins