Football: Grays Ath return to top of table

Isthmian North

Grays Athletic 4 v 0 Romford

AFTER a disappointing setback against Maldon & Tiptree Blues bounced back in style with a four goal feast at the expense of Romford who themselves contributed to an entertaining evening of football. Jack McQueen and Callum Watts registered their first goals for the club and what goals they were – McQueen with a powerful header, and the pick of the bunch from Watts after a tremendous passage of one touch football starting in the Blues half. David Knight and an own goal in the first half set up Blues win albeit both goals came through defensive errors. Credit should go to Boro’ though who came close to reducing the arrears on occasions but found Danny Sambridge in imperious
form, one save in particular would not have looked out of place in the higher echelons of the professional game.

Despite this Blues at times played some delightful passing football moving the ball with real purposea and had they taken other chances a bigger score line would not have flattered them. The win presented Paul Joynes with his first as Blues new manager and left them sitting top of the early season table.

It didn’t take Blues long to get their noses in front and unlike their fourth goal this one came from a direct route. On 4 minutes a clearance from Sambridge saw Macca Joynes flick the ball into the path of Danny Gould and although his cross ran behind Knight it confused the Boro defence a mis kick saw the ball falling invitingly to Knight who converted past Brandon Bulman.

Stunned by the early setback the visitors responded well when Sam Dickens tested Sambridge who did well to block his effort, Christian Adu Gyamfi picked up the loose ball but missed the target. The near miss enlivened Blues who then asserted their authority where the midfield with Mitch Hahn and Freddie Moncur prompting with astute incisive passes was ably supported by the energetic Joe Paxman and Gould.

Playing with verve and in control Blues added a second after 27 minutes courtesy of a deflection, when Ryan Sammons tried his luck from distance, his effort was wayward until it clipped Dickens sending the ball past Bulman, it was harsh on Boro but reflected Blues domination at this stage.

Blues continued to ask all the questions and could have gone further in front but for the final ball into the box which at times lacked accuracy allowing Boro to maintain a tenuous chance to repair the damage.

HT 2-0

Boro’ made a bright start to the half as early as the 1st minute when confusion between Sambridge and McQueen so nearly let in ex Blue L’heureux Menga, only a last ditch intervention prevented the visitors reducing the arrears.

The next score would clearly have an impact on the final outcome, so when Knight was through on goal Bulman denied him and then Anointed Chukwu, but then he was powerless ten minutes after the break when a Joynes corner found the head of the unmarked McQueen powering the ball past the keeper.

Now with a clear advantage Blues appeared to step off the gas for a period, but not before Paxman had a golden opportunity to make it four, but he put his effort wide of the woodwork when well placed. Boro’ buoyed by the let off thought they had pulled a goal back when Dickens forced Sambridge into a breathtaking save to turn his header over. He was called into action again making a block save to keep his goal intact.

Normal service was resumed though with Blues asking the questions – the ever willing Gould was cut down by a nasty challenge from Malaki Toussaint earning a yellow card and forcing Gould off to be replaced by Watts. Sub Joe Agunbiade then embarked on a serpentine run sending in a low cross that just evaded Paxman.

In the closing minutes Blues added a fourth and what a well worked goal it was. A series of seven one touch passes culminated with the ball played through by Hahn finding Watts, he showed maturity beyond his years outwitting Dickens and slotted the ball into the bottom corner, a fitting finale to a polished Blues performance.

So after what looked a difficult run of fixtures to start the season Blues now find themselves topping the table with twelve points from a maximum fifteen having beaten some of the fancied teams to challenge for the title. And it doesn’t get any easier when they travel to Coggeshall on Saturday, another fancied team but they go there full of confidence and belief. If they continue to produce another display like this evening they are capable of getting the right result.

Sambridge, Sammons, Jones Moncur (Wescott 65),Okonkwo, McQueen, Paxman, Hahn, Chukwu, Knight (78 Ogunbiade), Gould (Watts 74)

Subs not used: Lewis Clark, Ashton Henry

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