Canvey Island 3 v 0 Grays Athletic
By David Seaman
A LACKLUSTRE second half display was enough to end Blues recent unbeaten run and yet at half time although a goal down to a Gilbey penalty they showed enough to suggest they could salvage something from the contest. It was to no avail as Canvey had other ideas characterised by an increase in tempo which Blues just did not have an answer to.The midfield failed to compete, passes went astray, putting the defence under pressure, and the most startling statistic – Jones the Canvey keeper did not have one shot to save in the entire 90 minutes. It was a disappointing afternoon but put into context it is only the first league defeat in six games.
The opening 10 mins was punctuated by stoppages for a series of head injuries rather than any significant goalmouth action,that was until Canvey striker Sykes forced Blues on loan keeper Ben McNamara into a stunning save turning the ball over from close range.The Blues keeper was called into action shortly after , Charles stole in behind Sam Cross and was thwarted by a block save from McNamara.
Blues weathered the early pressure and took the game to their hosts, Jamie Slabber had a half chance when the ball was played into the box but it didn’t fall kindly to him and was cleared away. Not to be denied he flashed a header from a James Folkes Cross agonisingly wide.Blues quick passing and pressing unsettled their opponents as they enjoyed a period of sustained possession.
Gilbey always looked busy but he enraged Blues players and fans with a tendency to go to ground at the slightest challenge with the referee seeming unwilling to issue a card for simulation, Sykes was also proving a real handful up front with some intelligent running and close control. The game was now turning into a typical local derby with a competitive edge, play ebbing and flowing from end to end.
Joao Carlos carved out a chance trying his luck from the edge of the area only to see the ball deflected into the path of Slabber but he strayed into an offside position and the opportunity was lost.
Before the half expired and with the game at stalemate Canvey edged in front. Sykes who was a thorn in Blues side powered into the box and drew a rash challenge from Ryan Mahal leading to a penalty. Villain of the peace Gilbey converted the kick sending McNamara the wrong way. It was a cruel blow as Blues had more than matched their opponents but crucially had not tested Jones.
After the break Blues were presented with an early opportunity from a free kick but Cross failed to delivery was easily cleared.Canvey nearly made them pay for the lost opportunity when Charles forced McNamara into another smart save turning his header over. The Canvey man came close again minutes later when he found himself in space inside the six yard box but fortunately his effort was blocked and the danger cleared.
The hosts had visibly upped the tempo ,they were winning the vital second ball forcing Blues to rush and misplace their passes in an increasingly disjointed display.
A rare chance for Blues followed a foul on Carlos , Cogan floated the kick into the box but Jones acted quickly and punched clear under pressure.That was a good as it got for Blues as Canvey helped by some more wayward Blues passing went searching for a second goal and it came on 68 minutes.
A Blues forward foray broke down ,Charles picked up the ball and sent a sweet cross field pass to Sykes who had ghosted in behind the Blues defence and made no mistake slotting the ball past the advancing McNamara.Four minutes later brought a third goal and it typified Blues second half performance,.Richard Halle needlessly gave the ball away on half way it was slipped to Sykes who threaded the ball into the path of Charles who had the simplest of tasks to fire home past the exposed McNamara.
The goal ended the game as a spectacle , Canvey were happy to play down the clock and Blues never looked like troubling Jones and register a consolation goal in what was another disappointing afternoon.
Blues travel to Hendon on Tuesday in the velocity Trophy and will then entertain Mildenhall Town on Saturday.
McNamara, Mahal, Cross, Cogan (Brown 75),Halle, Muguo, Folkes,Cole.Slabber (Ibe 73),Monsheju (Bishop 54) Carlos
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