Bostik Div North
Grays Ath 5 v 1 Dereham Town
By The Mariner
BLUES previous games this season have seen them create numerous goal scoring opportunities which they then failed to convert, not this afternoon though when they blew away their visitors with four quality goals and one from the penalty spot – it could have been more but for the heroics of Dereham keeper Elliot Pride who made a number of quality saves to keep the scoreline down. Pick of the goals went to Mitchel Hahn with a wonderful curling effort leaving Pride rooted to the spot and his pride dented! From Clarke Bogard to Joao Carlos every player contributed to a tremendous all round team performance. The win keeps Blues firmly in the promotion hunt just four points off leaders Bowers & Pitsea.
It was Dereham who made the brighter start creating the first chances of the afternoon the first seeing Joe Gatting bringing a smart save from Bogard and then Jamie Forshaw firing wide. Their early endeavours bore fruit in the seventh minute, Bogard failed to deal with a corner the ball played ping pong in the Blues box and was only half cleared to the burly Gatting who made no mistake putting the visitors in front.
In previous weeks finding themselves a goal behind Blues play became disjointed but this is a different team – they reacted quickly and began to ask questions and unsettle the visitors back line. Charlie Allen making his full debut played an inch perfect pass into the path of Kieran Bishop, despite the attention of two defenders he managed to get a touch on the ball which rolled just past the upright.
Blues continued to press and were rewarded in the fifteenth minute, a ball into the box found Bishop who squared to the unmarked Wade leaving him with a simple tap in to record his first goal since returning to the club. Wade was the fulcrum for Blues second just two minutes later, aggressively barrelling into the area he drew a clumsy challenge from Tom McCleish, despite the Dereham protests the referee pointed to the spot, up stepped Carlos to convert the kick for his fifth league goal of the season.
A goal behind, Dereham sparked into life spreading the play coupled with slick movement and tight control – all it lacked was a cutting edge to breach the Blues fortress and despite a number of corners and free kicks they failed to reduce the arrears.
Blues came close just before the break when they had a goal disallowed mysteriously by the official.
Dereham’s start to the half mirrored their first when substitute Seamus Kelleher was left unmarked in the box, but wasted the opportunity blasting wildly over, the miss was symptomatic of the visitors play, great approach work marred by wayward shooting.
Blues fans were well aware of their teams failure to compete over the 90 minutes, but their fears were dispelled with what followed.
Ryan Mahal was the architect of Blues first chance of the half with a precision pass to Bishop, his back to goal and closely marked he cleverly improvised with an overhead flick falling just wide.
Chances were coming thick and fast for Blues, a slick passage of play involving Michael Toner and Adalberto Pinto created an opening for Carlos his fierce effort flicking off the leg of Pride and the upright and behind for a corner. The kick found the head of Wade, Pride pushed the ball out causing a scramble in the box the ball eventually finding Wade who crashed the ball home on 59 minutes to complete a brace.
The visitors quickly replied and should have reduced the arrears when Gatting rattled the bar with his header, Gatting was in the action again moments later forcing a good save from Bogard. The Dereham striker must have realised it was not his day when he was once again denied by Bogard blocking his drive. Next to try his luck was George Quantrell but he failed to hit the target, yet another miss seemed to drain the fight from Dereham leading to Blues dominating the closing stages.
Toner who had looked dangerous on a number of occasions with searching crosses and forward runs weaved into the box and cleverly cut the ball back from the bye-line to Hahn 25 yards out, he produced a moment of brilliance to curl the ball past Pride to register Blues fourth in the 80th minute.
The three goal cushion allowed Blues to play with complete freedom – Dereham had no answer to Blues speed of thought and movement, you could sense the confidence flowing through the team. There was no surprise then when the fifth goal came in the 84th minute. Hahn unleashed another trademark drive from 25 yards producing an instinctive save from Pride turning the ball over, the corner was met with a glancing header from Michael Finneran giving the keeper no chance. Sub Ade Cole thought he had scored Blues sixth with a ferocious drive only to see Pride plunge to his left to make a stunning save and turn the ball behind.
The final whistle brought the curtain down on a terrific Blues performance continuing their great run of results and turn round in fortunes, they now look worthy promotion contenders after a shaky start to the season.
Bogard, Mahal, Muguo, Finneran, Toner, Allen (Oli 67), Hahn, Pinto (Thompson 81), Carlos, Bishop, Wade (Cole 77),
Subs not used:Anderson, Okonkwo