Aveley 2 v 1 Grays Athletic
THE Blues let a one goal half time lead slip to condemn themselves to a second defeat in the Velocity Cup group stage against landlords Aveley. The game was a low key affair which failed to excite both sets of supporters. The first half saw a Mitch Hahn strike separate the teams but Aveley dominated the second period after Blues made a number of changes which clearly affected their rhythm and cohesion. An Alex Akrofi goal on the stroke of 90 minutes gave Millers their second win in the competition.
A cagey opening produced little in the way of goal mouth action played out in the middle of the park both keepers were rarely troubled except for a blistering 25 yard drive from Hahn that had David Hughes beaten but not the upright.
Hahn wasn’t to be denied though in the 23rd minute when a fluid passage of play released Joao Carlos , outstripping his marker he squared the ball back to Hahn who side footed confidently passed Hughes. Steve King narrowly missed putting Blues further in front when his glancing header from a Hahn throw drifted wide of the post.
Millers responded well pushing Blues back, Akrofi was looking lively out wide using his pace to good effect a portent of things to come. Blues were defending well helped by Millers tending to overhit the ball failing to allow for the strong wind at their backs.
Millers were out early after the break their intentions clear and came so close to an equaliser after sloppy passing by Blues in their own area left Connor Witherspoon one on one with Sambridge who was quickly off his line to smother the ball.
The lucky let off failed to stir Blues from their languid start to the half they were nearly caught cold again when Dylan Beagle delivered a tantalising cross just evading the onrushing Firmin Nagundu. Nagundu was in action soon after on the edge of the box, he lacked composure blasting high and wide. Akrofi joined in when he brought a fine save from Sambridge turning his fiercely struck drive behind.
Millers employing a higher line restricted Blues space forcing them to play long balls bypassing midfield, the result starved their front men of quality service and restricting goalscoring opportunities. In a rare foray new signing Michael Pinder had an opportunity to increase Blues advantage breaking free he raced into the box but was denied by Hughes saving with his legs .
The miss proved crucial when Aveley drew level on 78 minutes, a goal simplistic in construction from a route one move , Akrofi capitalised on hesitation at the back allowing him to lob the ball over the advancing Sambridge. The goal had been threatened through the half , Aveley looking the more hungry side.
Ngandu could have put the Millers in front only to be thwarted by Sambridge, at the other end a Kayembe flick caused consternation Hughes saving well . It looked increasingly likely a penalty shoot out would decide the outcome as the clock ticked down but in the 90th minute Akrofi won it for Millers weaving into the box and drilling past Sambridge .
A late rally from Blues failed to create an opportunity consigning them to a second defeat in the competition, and to further dampen their spirits Rob Bartley was red carded after the final whistle for allegedly remarks made to the referee.
Sambridge, McQueen (Fox 86), Joynes, Miller, King, Clark, Muguo (K. Kayembe 58), M.Ogunrinde (T Ogunrinde 64),Hahn , Dark (Bartley 85), Carlos (Pindy 51)