Potters Bar Town 1 v 3 Grays Athletic
BLUES fully deserved their victory against Potters Bar even allowing for the dismissal of their skipper Billy Adcock in the second half, adapting better to the blustery wind and heavy playing surface they produced a hardworking team performance.Playing into a strong wind in the first half they played neat controlled football then took full advantage in the second scoring just after the break and making sure of the points with two further goals in a four-minute spell. The scoreline was a reversal of the earlier meeting between the sides and keeps Blues in touch with the play-off places.
Blues made a couple of changes, Jack Fowler and Glenn Poole coming into the side and in a tactical move Richard Halle playing up front with Kieran Bishop.
Blues made a bright start but it was the Scholars who had the first opportunity when leading scorer Michael Murray capitalised on a long ball and sent his shot just wide of the upright, Sandro Costa Dias Fernandes then embarked on a mazy run eluding a number of challenges firing wide of the goal.
Despite these scares Blues continued to enjoy plenty of possession, Halle was causing problems in the air and the pace of Bishop looked menacing frequently outstripping the home back line and with Stan Muguo winning his share of tackles ably supported by Ade Cole, Joao Carlos and Poole, Blues searched for an opening.
On an unforgiving surface control and accuracy was paramount, Blues were adapting to the conditions better than their hosts allowing them to control the midfield, the Scholars tended to adopt a long ball policy but failed to allow for the strong wind overhitting many of their passes allowing Blues back four to get the upper hand, although Sean Grace did cause some consternation when he brought a smart save from Joe Simmonds.
Great build-up involving Poole and Cole released Bishop, closing in on goal he was denied a scoring opportunity when a last-ditch tackle deflected the ball behind. Joe Bruce tried his luck when the ball fell to him outside the box drifting an effort agonisingly close.
With the half drawing to a close Billy Baird found himself in space on the edge of the box but blasted wildly over, at the other end Carlos shrugged off a couple of challenges sending in a low drive. William Wambeek then had the last chance of the half with a stinging drive well saved by Simmonds.
Playing with the wind at their backs Blues had an ideal opportunity to push forward and take control of the game but Potters Bar made the brighter start winning an early free-kick which came to nothing.
It was clear Blues tactic was to move the ball forward early utilising the pace of Bishop to get behind the home defence and it quickly reaped a reward with an early corner. Poole swung the ball over to the far post where it was met by Jack Fowler who powered a bullet header past Laurencin to put Blues one up in the 52nd minute.A goal up Blues went looking for a second and Poole nearly provided it for Bishop laying the ball to the striker who volleyed into the arms of Laurencin.
The scholars were coming under increasing pressure as Blues their confidence high dominated possession and the pressure told when skipper Billy Adcock twice stamped on Joao Carlos and was shown a straight red.
Blues were winning a number of corners and looked dangerous each time the ball went into the home box and in the 68th minute, another corner provided Blues second goal. Poole again sent in a menacing kick which Potters Bar failed to deal with, Fowler prodded the ball goalwards where substitute Bradley Sach was on hand to stab the ball home to give Blues a two-goal cushion.
Potters Bar went close to reducing the arrears when Eoin Casey broke free closing in on goal he was denied by a great block by Simmonds, the let-off stung Blues and they replied almost immediately. In the 78th minute, great build up between Carlos, Poole and Cole saw the diminutive midfielder receive the ball on the edge of the box and send in an audacious drive that Laurencin got his hands to but could not prevent from nestling in the back of the net. Blues so nearly claimed a fourth goal when good work by Bishop set up a chance for Poole but his outstretched leg just failed to make contact with the ball.
With just a minute of normal time remaining Scholars registered a consolation goal when a quick break caused consternation in the Blues defence allowing David Sota to drill the ball past Simmonds. The goal was the only blot on an otherwise fine performance built on a solid defensive foundation, an industrious midfield and pace and power up front.
The win sets Blues up nicely for the New Years Day clash with struggling Romford at Parkside but they must guard against complacency and go into the game with the same attitude that brought them a well-deserved win today, another three points would put them in an ideal position to push for the playoffs.
The result leaves Grays Athletic in tenth place just four points off the playoffs.