Football: Grays Ath keep slim play-off chances alive

Grays ath

Bostik Division North

Grays Athletic 4 v 0 Soham Town Rangers

Blues miserable run of form came to an abrupt end with this comfortable win over Soham Town Rangers, inspired by a vintage Man of the Match performance from Dennis Oli. Blues have endured a goal famine of late, but not this afternoon when they gorged themselves with four quality goals – it could have been more but for the heroics of Rangers keeper Craig Foxall. Rangers came to Parkside with just one defeat in their previous five games, but they had no answer to Blues high tempo game offering very little attacking threat, apart from one anxious moment Clarke Bogard enjoyed a quiet afternoon and a first clean sheet since mid September.

Joao Carlos caused the visitors some consternation inside the first few minutes, when he powered forward and delivered a teasing cross which was cleared under pressure. Rangers replied from their most potent weapon a long throw which Stan Muguo cleared with quiet efficiency.

Blues were building pressure – winning a succession of corners and free kicks – Carlos profited when a corner was only half cleared, a quick shimmy created space unleashing a thunderbolt that looked bound for the back of the net, until a deflection diverted his effort up and over. Charlie Allen came close when his clever chip struck the woodwork. Mitch Hahn playing an unaccustomed role up front came close sliding the ball wide of the upright.

Oli opened his box of tricks with deft lay offs and flicks combining well with Correy Davidson who has added pace and penetration on the flank since his return to Blues colours.

Despite creating numerous opportunities the visitors goal remained intact, but it was finally breached on the half hour when a ball to the far post found Allen, who hooked the ball back to Adalberto Pinto drilling the ball home, his second goal in as many matches. He could have added to his tally when a Davidson cross to the far post saw him stab the ball wide.

Rangers had been on the ropes from the first whistle rarely threatening Bogard’s goal, but they were still only the one goal down and given Blues failure to keep clean sheets still in the game, the next goal then was important to both teams. Fortunately it was Blues who claimed that goal on the stroke of half time. Geofrey Okonkwo on for the injured Ryan Mahal fed Oli down the flank, using all his skill he cleverly lifted the ball to the far post, where it was met by Davidson who improvised a volley to record his first goal since rejoining the club.

HT 2-0

Normal service was resumed after the break when Michael Finneran drew another brilliant save from Foxall somehow clawing his header off the line .

Bogard, who had been a virtual spectator caused consternation when he failed to collect a long throw dropping on the loose ball at the second attempt, the moment was to be Rangers only real goal threat during the afternoon.

Blues were completely in control, with Hahn relishing his role up front, making some clever runs to create space for the lurking Oli who was occupying the attentions of the burly Lloyd Groves, built like a latter-day battleship, but unable to shackle the sleek Blues destroyer cutting past him with ease.

Continuing to carve out openings Blues were dominant, having the luxury of the two goal advantage allowed them to express themselves. Davidson looked menacing coming close with a fierce effort after a typical darting run. Hahn tested Foxall with a free kick, the keeper spilling the ball, and then Carlos finished off a powerful burst with a thunderous effort bringing the save of the match from Foxall somehow turning the ball over.

Pinto was putting in an impressive shift in the engine room full of energy and menace enjoying his most effective performance in a Blues shirt, he could have added to his goal tally first nodding a header wide and then finding space to drive the ball straight at Foxall.

Although under increasing pressure Rangers kept plugging away and could have reduced the deficit when a great run from full back Alfie Connor saw his cross turn the Blues defenders but Callum Russel failed to hit the target.

Blues increased their lead in the 72nd minute when Michael Toner set Carlos free, crossing into the box the ball eventually found Oli who made no mistake thrashing the ball home. His work done he was replaced shortly after by on loan youngster Jacob Hutchinson.

With the game lost Soham plugged gamely on when Josh Dawkin tested Bogard comfortably saving his effort but that was the end of their resistance and in the 90th minute Blues struck again – Carlos laid the ball to Toner, his toe poked effort took a deflection into the path of Hahn who powered a header into the top corner to round off a convincing win.

The win, coming after a series of below par performances was long overdue, moving Blues into ninth place and setting up things nicely for next weeks clash with local rivals in form Tilbury.

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