Grays Athletic 1 v 3 Potters Bar Town
By David Seaman
COULD it get any worse for Blues Fans? Well yes it could when they saw their team given a football lesson by a Potters Bar side who passed and moved throughout the 90 minutes, helped it must be said by three gift goals from their hosts. The frustration for Blues fans is that the same players earned a creditable draw against league leaders Hornchurch just a week ago. The visitors looked a well drilled outfit with slickness in possession, their movement off the ball left Blues chasing shadows for most of the evening, Blues though didn’t help themselves by failing to press their opponents allowing them time to play an expansive game. With a pristine playing surface conducive to passing football puzzlingly Blues tactic was to knock long high balls forward which then starved their front men of any decent service,by the end of the evening Kieran Bishop trudged off looking a frustrated and disconsolate figure as did most of his colleagues.
From the whistle the visitors set about their game with some neat passing movements, zipping the ball around the park with ease and always having a player available to receive a pass, so much so that Blues rarely touched the ball in the opening period . Surprisingly then it was Bishop who created a frisson of excitement and the first goal scoring opportunity when he collected the ball on the edge of the box, moving the ball quickly he unleashed a blistering drive which beat Laurencin but not the upright rebounding to safety.
It was to be a temporary let off for the visitors when in the 10th minute Blues went ahead.New signing Tim Monsheju played a a sumptuous pass into Bishop wide on the right , taking the ball to the byeline he cut it back to Kai Brown who turned quickly and prodded the ball home , a just reward for the youngster who has been one of the few success stories so far this season.It could have been two shortly after when a Potters Bar head sent the ball past his own upright from a Blues corner.
It must be said the goal came against the run of play and stung by the set back the visitors set about restoring parity taking command of the game . Murray was involved in much of their good work and was not averse to having a crack at goal whenever the opportunity presented,Lamar Johnson had to be alert on a number of occasions with some smart saves.Blues were struggling to get a toe hold in the game. Stan Muguo, Suley Zuhdu and Ade Cole tried to get them moving but on too many occasions the ball was pumped forward and sailed over their heads allowing Potters Bar to build another attack.Monsheju showed glimpses of what he could do but like Bishop he was feeding off scraps.
The Blues goal remained intact despite the visitors pressure, but eventually they succumbed in the 37th minute and it was a repeat of the goal conceded earlier in the season against Canvey.The visitors won a free kick some 35 yards out wide on the flank,full back Lomas stepped up and sent his kick deep into the Blues box, with defenders and keeper standing statuesque the ball struck the upright and Johnson and into the net.Worse was to come when Jack Fowler seemed in control of a ball into the Blues box but indecision was to cost him. instead of putting the ball in row Z or back to Johnson he chose to play his way out of trouble lost control and the Potters Bar man stole the ball ,Fowler made a clumsy challenge conceding a clear penalty which Murray duly converted.
The goal was no more than the visitors deserved having dominated the opening period helped by a Blues side who toiled throughout the half but with little purpose.
Blues won a free kick at the start of the half ,taken quickly the ball was squared to Monsheju who tested Laurencin forcing a good save from the keeper. Shortly after Brown made way for Glen Poole to bolster the midfield as Blues strived to get back into the game but their task was made that much harder when the visitors increased their advantage just nine minutes into the half. Johnson was forced to turn the ball over from a Casey effort at the expense of a corner,but Casey was not to be denied when he touched the ball home from the corner after confirmation from the referees assistant that the ball had indeed crossed the line.
Blues now had a mountain to climb if they were to get back into the game but as the rain lashed across the park standing water on the surface slowed the ball down leading to a number of moves breaking down when the ball failed to reach its intended target. In contrast Potters Bar bolstered by the two goal cushion were content to play possession football and protect their lead,Blues huffed and puffed with little end result although Bishop and Poole combined well to provide an opportunity for Monsheju who saw his effort deflected behind.
Callum Ibe was introduced at the expense of Zuhdu and looked lively but still an equaliser looked increasingly unlikely,Cole did get the ball in the net but was ruled offside. Fowler tried to make amends for his earlier error and rose highest from a corner but failed to hit the target.
As the game progressed the visitors engineered a couple of opportunities but Johnson was equal to them making smart saves.At the other end Bishop had a rare opportunity breaking quickly and was disappointed to see his powerful drive deflected behind, but that was Blues last opportunity and at the final whistle the visitors celebrated a victory although deserved was helped by some less than efficient Blues defending.
That Blues failed to build on two previous promising performances only reinforces their lack of consistency which has plagued this and all last season . Solve this problem and fortunes may change but with a quarter of the season gone, and the last victory back in the sunny days of August, prospects are not bright and could look even worse if results go against them on Saturday at Ware leaving them anchored at the bottom.
Johnson, Mahal, Cross Fowler , Dunn (Folkes 56),Muguo, Brown (Poole 52), Cole, Bishop, Zuhdu (Ibe 69), Monsheju,
Subs not used Slabber, Thompson