Bostik Division North
Tilbury 1 v 1 Grays Athletic
THE borough’s oldest local derby was not a game for purists – it promised much but failed to deliver, punctuated by frequent stoppages. Cohesive play was at a premium and goalmouth action in short supply – the ball could have been mistaken for a drone it spent so much time in the air. A Lewis Smith penalty gave the Dockers a half time lead with Charlie Allen replying for Blues in a second half which only partially burst into life in the final twenty minutes. The flow of the game was not helped by an official who infuriated both teams with a series of controversial decisions, with Blues feeling particularly hard done by.
A brisk opening flattered to deceive when Blues pressurised the home goal, too vigorously in Michael Finneran’s case when he picked up a yellow card for a foul on keeper Rhys Madden. Unfortunately, what followed was a tentative scrappy affair lacking the pride and passion usually associated in Tilbury – Grays clashes.
The Dockers playing a high line caught Blues offside on numerous occasions, which in turn affected the flow of the game – neither side were able to put together passages of play threatening either goal with the ball airborne for most of the half. Neither keeper was dutifully employed other than routine catches from a succession of aimless free kicks, corners and crosses. Any quality on display came from the two most experienced players on the park Dennis Oli, and Dockers Lewis Smith.
It was Smith who broke the dour deadlock from the penalty spot in the 39th minute after a needless push in the box .
On the balance of play Dockers just about shaded the half showing more commitment going forward, in contrast to Blues who continually fell foul of the Dockers offside trap.
Things can only get better was the topic of conversation on most fans lips at half time, hoping to see more quality and passion shown by the combatants. Certainly Tilbury came out with more conviction winning two early corners. The elusive Smith showed his quality, becoming increasingly influential his trickery causing problems for Blues . A typical mazy run drew a foul midway in Blues half and only a brilliant save by Clarke Bogard prevented him doubling his tally.
The Dockers increased the pressure on Blues goal, who were defending desperately to remain in the game, but to their credit the back four of Geof Okonkwo, Stan Muguo ,Michael Toner and Finneran were equal to the task – so much so that encouraged by their defenders Blues began to see more of the ball, but still lacked the tempo to cause real problems.
They finally made the breakthrough in the 68th minute, which came about through the tenacity of Correy Davidson chasing down what seemed a lost cause near the corner flag – winning the ball he played the ball back to Aron Gordon who jinked past two defenders rolling the ball to Charlie Allen, improvising a flicked effort past Madden.
The goal changed the dynamics – Blues who had been playing second best seized the initiative and began to ask questions – Allen and Adalberto Pinto started to boss proceedings – Correy Davidson and Joao Carlos occupied the attentions of their markers pushing the Dockers back. Davidson had an opportunity to win it for Blues when he broke clear, but an unkind bobble and the close attention of a defender saw him lose control at the critical moment.
The Dockers, although not enjoying their earlier territorial advantage did cause a stir when Abdus Salami nodded wide from a corner deep in injury time – Tilbury not for the first time were awarded a dubious free kick which came to nothing leaving the scores level at full time.
Bogard, Okonkwo, Muguo, Finneran, Toner, Davidson, Pinto, Allen, Carlos (Hutchinson 90), Hahn (Gordon 46), Oli
Subs not used:Bishop, Cogan, Stuart.