Football: Grays Ath impress on first day of the season

Isthmian North

Grays Athletic 4 v 1 Brentwood Town

THE Blues got off to a flying start with this emphatic win over Brentwood Town registering four quality goals – it could have been more but for Town keeper Tim Brown, the woodwork, and a host of missed opportunities. That aside Jim Cooper’s charges put on a sparkling display of attacking football with youngster Manny Ogunrinde featuring prominently and Tony Stokes rolling back the years with a brace and linking the play with some sublime touches.

The game kicked off with the sound of fireworks from the nearby Lakeside Shopping Centre and very soon there were fireworks at Parkside with two goals in the opening three minutes. Brentwood silenced the home crowd in the 2nd minute when a defence splitting pass left Jacob Wiggins free with the easiest of tasks to beat the exposed Danny Sambridge. Stunned into action Blues were back on level terms just a minute later, when Ogunrinde used his blistering pace to race into the visitors box, where he was bundled to the ground by ex Blue Junior Baker, Stokes converting the spot kick with aplomb.

Ogunrinde was the main catalyst for Blues attacking intentions again outstripping his marker and squaring the ball to Stokes who failed to hit the target side footing just wide of the upright. Town replied in kind and were causing problems at the back for Blues, who looked nervy in the opening quarter due to the darting runs of Wiggins and Jason Williams. Wiggins it was who wrong footed Sambridge with a quick free kick forcing him into a scrambled save.

After a frantic opening the game settled down allowing Blues to establish a degree of control, Joao Carlos and Ogunrinde used their pace to good advantage down the flanks – Brown made a smart save from a Ogunrinde low cross as pressure continued to build In the 22nd minute Blues edged in front – a long throw from Nathan Fox was touched on to Stokes who powered his header over Brown.

Wiggins could have reduced the arrears when he once again broke free, but was denied by a smart block from Sambridge. The visitors still looked threatening going forward, but Blues grabbed their third in the 41st minute to give themselves a two goal cushion when a long ball from Steve King set Ogunrinde free, his angled effort evaded Brown’s despairing dive.

HT 3-1

Blues had a strong appeal for a penalty just after the break when Carlos’s ankles were clipped, but Mr Fyfield turned down the appeal leaving Carlos clearly injured lying in the box. Stokes should have converted his third of the day when he found space, but his shot lacked power, Brown making a comfortable save. Town countered quickly when James Pugsley broke free finding Williams whose turn and shot drifted wide.

Carlos created another opportunity – racing to the byeline his low cross just evaded the onrushing Ogunrinde. Play for a time flowed end to end, Williams again was the target – he brought fine save from Sambridge and saw another effort drift agonisingly wide, but gradually Blues midfield gained the ascendency – Fox was finding space down the right flank, Lewis Dark and Stan Muguo patrolled the centre of the park protecting their back line where Ashley Miller and Jack McQueen looked in control.

Blues now monopolised possession creating numerous openings – Ogunrinde was proving a real thorn in Brentwood’s side, so much so their frustration boiled over in the 60th minute when ex Blue Michael Toner was shown a straight red for what looked like a stamp on the young striker. Just a minute later Blues effectively made sure of the points when Stokes funnelled the ball to Carlos, dancing past three defenders he prodded the ball past the prone Brown.

A man down and under constant pressure Brentwood visibly tired as Blues increased the pressure, opening up the visitors back line at will Ogurinde ,Carlos and Fox peppered Browns goal – a Carlos pile driver cannoned off the woodwork, Brown pulled off a number of saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

With the points all but secure Cooper made three changes, Connor Martin, Callum Taylor and Mitch Hahn replacing King, Ogunrinde and Dark. Hahn and Martin were quickly into action, Hahn coming close with a typical strike thundering against the woodwork the ball falling to Martin who inexplicable missed the target from six yards, the last opportunity of a fruitful afternoon for Blues.

Sambridge, Fox, Joynes, Miller, King ( Martin 73), Muguo, Ogunrinde (Taylor 74), McQueen, Stokes, Dark (Hahn 83), Carlos,

Subs not used: Bartley, Hession Harris

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