Dereham Town 0 v 1 Grays Ath
By David Seaman
IT will not go down as one of Ade Cole’s finest goals but it was certainly one of the sweetest coming in the last minute of injury to give Blues a thoroughly deserved three points against table toppers Dereham Town. The margin could have been greater had Kieran Bishop not struck the post from a penalty and referee Owen awarded Blues a second penalty for a blatant trip on Kai Brown (one of many baffling decisions by the official going in favour of the home side.
It’s now one defeat in nine in the league for a resurgent Blues who are now looking a more solid and consistent outfit .
Blues made one change with Barry Cogan coming in for the unavailable Glenn Poole and he was influential throughout the evening urging and encouraging the younger players around him.
Blues could have been behind within seconds of the start when a ball over the top allowed diminutive striker Jarvis to scamper through on goal but Lamar Johnson was alert to the danger rushing from his line and winning the race for the ball clearing the danger.The Magpies came close shortly after when Foresaw found himself unmarked on the edge of the box but failed to capitalise firing wildly over.
Having survived these early scares Blues began to assume control,Bishop’s pace was causing Dereham real problems ,working in tandem with Slabber who was winning the arial battle with some deft flicks he continually got behind the home back line.Kai Brown who grows in confidence with every game linked well with the front men not afraid to take on defenders ,switching sides at will and difficult to pick up. Keeping the pressure up Blues sent in a series of searching low crosses into the box but failed to capitalise.
Dereham still had their moments,Jarvis unleashed a fierce drive, Johnson saving at the second attempt and then a superb diagonal ball to the same man saw him somehow spoon the ball over from five yards.
Blues were not to be outdone, Brown latched onto an astute Cole pass, driving forward to the byeline he delivered a superb low cross which agonisingly eluded the lurking Bishop. Working both flanks was harvesting a number of openings for Blues ,Ryan Mahal and Sam Cross supported well. In the 35th minute a neat build down the right saw Slabber pick the ball up inside the area where he was unceremoniously bundled to the ground, Mr Owen immediately pointed to the spot.Up stepped Bishop who took some time to set the ball on the spot ,there appeared to be a dip not allowing the ball to sit properly which probally contributed to the miss, the ball beating Pride but not the upright.
Shortly after Brown who was becoming a thorn in Dereham’s side picked the ball up weaved his way into the box and was brought down, clearly clipped from behind, but amazingly not according to the official who waved play on.Bishop then provided a finale to a competent first half display by Blues, latching on to a through ball he rounded the keeper rolling the ball towards an unguarded net only to see it hacked off the line at the last minute.
Slabber it was who had an early opportunity after the restart chesting the ball down inside the area, it just wouldn’t fall kindly for him and Dereham managed to clear the danger.
The Magpies looked a more determined outfit at this stage and began to push forward but Blues held firm ,Johnson did well to claim the ball from a menacing free kick into the box and immediately looked to set a counterattack .Cole after a quiet start became more and more influential taking up some intelligent positions and occupying the attention of the Dereham rearguard, an opportunity eluded him when he raced to the byeline and shaping to shoot the ball not for the first time in the evening bobbled up and the chance was lost.
The game was opening up as both sides probed for that important opening goal, Dereham were shading proceedings forcing a number of corners and free kicks courtesy once again of some dubious officiating.Burgers got his head to a corner but Johnson reacted well turning the ball over. Another free kick failed to trouble the Blues goal sailing high and wide.Blues dug in to frustrate their hosts, from front to back they stuck to their task competing for every ball, Richard Halle and Jack Fowler remained solid at the back, skipper Stan Mugou industrious at the heart of the midfield.
Bishop was unsettling Dereham with his pace chasing the ball down and pressurising defenders, he combined well with Cole to create an opening with the midfielder coming close the ball sailing inches over. Mahal joined in the attack working out wide neat interplay with Cogan saw him send in a cross met by the head of sub Joao Carlos who nodded just over.
Dereham seemed to run out of ideas and steam as the game moved into the final ten minutes, Blues sensing they could snatch a winner began to dominate,Bishop thought he had clinched it when he wriggled to the byeline closed in on goal and unleashed a fierce drive beating Pride and clipping the bar. Blues were not to be denied though , moving into the last minute of injury time Cole seized his chance.Not for the first time Bishop eluded his marker and cut the ball back from the byeline and there unmarked twelve yards out was Cole,he failed to make good contact on the ball rolling it down his shin and past the stranded Pride.Flukey it may have been but they all count, triggering an ecstatic reaction from his team mates and travelling fans,seconds later came the final whistle to cap a hard working and well deserves win.
Blues are at last coming to terms with life in the lower division with both confidence ,consistency and team spirit high. If they can continue working hard and staying resolute then they have the capability to climb the table and move into the playoffs. Witham away on Saturday will provide another test of their resolve in what looks an intriguing encounter