FA Trophy Preliminary Round
Felixstowe and Walton United 1 v 3 Grays Athletic
WHAT looked like a tricky tie on paper for Blues turned out to be anything but, with an all round team performance propelling them into the next round of the FA Trophy at the expense of Felixstowe & Walton. An inspired Joao Carlos with two quality strikes and an Adeyinka Cole goal helped to extend Blues unbeaten run to four games, a missed Shomari Barnwell penalty in injury time was the only blemish on the afternoon.
The game was barely two minutes old when the first opportunity was created, Rhys Henry breaking clear and testing Lloyd Anderson who saved well. After this early scare it was Blues who established control taking the game to their hosts. Barnwell provided Blues first chance with a quick break, he brushed off a challenge turned inside bringing a smart save from Jack Spurling in the home goal. Shortly after Blues should have gone in front, Ryan Mahal delivered a great cross into the box which was only half cleared, falling to Barry Cogan six yards out who somehow missed the target blasting wildly over.
Carlos was next to be denied by Spurling as Blues continued to dominate proceedings, Felixstowe were making unforced errors with Carlos and Dennis Oli causing mayhem on either flank, but despite all the pressure Blues could not make the vital breakthrough. The hosts were reduced to sporadic breaks well marshalled by a resolute Blues back line, who used the offside trap to good effect.
Barnwell had another opportunity after a home free kick was blocked, the ball played out to the Blues striker, taking the ball into the box his effort evaded Spurling and slid wide of the far upright. The tall striker had another opportunity from a Cogan free kick his header claimed by Spurling.
Having survived Blues pressure Felixstowe came close from a free kick. Anderson diving to his right to push the ball away and with their first real opportunity from open play should have gone in front, when a cross found the head of Jack Ainsley left unmarked on the edge of the six yard box, with only Anderson to beat he missed the target his header drifting the wrong side of the upright.
On 43 minutes after constant pressure Blues finally broke the deadlock, Michael Toner fed Carlos out wide he raced forward cut inside and fired decisively past Spurling into the bottom corner. The goal seemed to spur on the Seasiders , who for the first time in the half mounted sustained pressure on Blues goal which held out until the half time whistle.
Blues doubled their lead shortly after the resumption in the 49th minute and what a goal it was it would not have looked out of place at a much higher level. Winning a corner the ball was cleared out to the edge of the eighteen yard box to Carlos who unleashed an unstoppable volley past the statuesque Spurling , an early contender for goal of the season.
Once again the goal stirred the hosts into life, allowing them to push Blues back and just six minutes later they managed to reduce the arrears, a cross field ball found Ainsley, who made amends for his earlier miss slotting the ball past the advancing Anderson. With their tails up Felixstowe held the territorial advantage forcing Blues back on the defensive, Ainsley again was guilty of a glaring miss blasting over when well placed. Rhys Henry should have brought the scores level when he was played through with only Anderson to beat the keeper made a great block to deny the hosts.
Pushed deeper and deeper Blues were hanging on under constant pressure, Ainsley again wasted an opportunity failing to hit the target. Although under pressure the Blues back line held firm with Michael Finneran and Geofrey Okonkwo making vital challenges to stem the tide.
Cogan his work done was replaced by Cole who looked hungry for the ball his introduction gave Blues added impetus and after enduring a period of pressure they again wrestled the initiative. Cole tested Spurling with a curling effort the keeper performing well to turn the ball behind.
Felixstowe desperate to salvage something from the game threw caution to the wind and pushed men forward leaving them exposed at the back and after a couple of near misses were finally punished in the 89th minute when Cole exploited space at the back, striding forward he advanced on goal sliding the ball past Spurling into the bottom corner to put clear daylight between the sides.
In the dying minutes three should have been four, Usman Adeniji raced clear into the box and was brought down unceremoniously. Barnwell stepped up but his strike hit the post and was cleared, shortly after came the final whistle to bring down the curtain on a morale boosting win for Blues.
In the next round Blues will be at home to Sevenoaks Town on Saturday 13th October.
Anderson, Mahal (Adeniji 70), Okonkwo, Finneran, Toner, Cogan (Cole 60), Muguo, Hahn, Carlos, Barnwell ,Oli
Subs not used: Bogard, Stuart