Sunday, September 24, 2023

Football: Grays Ath keep up promotion chase

Isthmian North: Heybridge Swifts 1 v 3 Grays Athletic

BLUES returned to league action after a three week break and illustrated they have not lost the winning instinct with this professional performance at Heybridge Swifts. The hosts after an uncertain start to the campaign have seen their fortunes upturn recently so this game was always going to be a stern test for Blues, but they came through in the end with flying colours helped by a quick fire goal after just two minutes through a David Knight penalty and a late goal from Freddie Moncur – sandwiched between was a brilliant strike from Danny Gould. Swifts for their part contributed to an entertaining afternoon but ultimately Blues resolve, organisation and goal threat won the day. The win keeps them in contention at the top of the table.

The contest was barely two minutes old when Blues found themselves a goal to the good, a searching ball down the left flank set Gould racing forward only to be unceremoniously upended in the box by Jeremy Arthur, Knight dispatching the resultant spot kick with aplomb.

The goal stunned Swifts who replied immediately with a slick passage of play with the ball sliding inches wide of the upright and thankfully cleared to safety. Coming so close encouraged the hosts who pressed forward in the opening quarter but despite the possession Blues concentrated on protecting their advantage forcing the opposition to strike from distance but without the required accuracy to trouble Danny Sambridge.

Settling into the game Blues examined the home rearguard where both Gould and Aron Gordon out on the flanks looked to have the measure of their markers, Swifts had similar success on the flanks but the real battle was in midfield where the game resembled a game of chess . Moncur and Mitch Hahn worked tirelessly to maintain forward momentum

Chances came and went at both ends, but it was Blues who added to their advantage in the 32nd minute and what a goal it was, winning the ball Hahn found Knight who layed the ball into the path of the arriving Gould dispatching a thunderous 25 yard drive leaving Callum Chafer clutching at air.

Swifts continued to probe but found stout resistance from a resolute Blues defence, belatedly Gould had a chance to add to his tally but failed to hit the target .

HT 0-2

As expected Swifts made a brisk start when Andrew Fennell tested Sambridge which produced an immediate reply at the other end, Moncur firing over. Knight then had a great opportunity after finding space deep inside the Swifts half but unusually for him his effort failed to trouble Chafer grabbing the ball to his chest. Gould once again was in action when his strike from distance forced Chafer into a smart save.

Momentum was swinging in the hosts favour and for once Blues control of the game wavered, seizing the opportunity Swifts upped the tempo forcing Blues midfield into defensive duties, but despite the pressure they failed to capitalise .

But then with 63 minutes on the clock Swifts struck. From a well placed cross into the box Jack Adlington – Pile stole in between Geoff Okonkwo and Lewis Clark to plant a glancing header past Sambridge.

It was now game on , could Blues hold on or would Swifts level the scores , Chukwu could have increased the advantage when he delayed his shot which sailed over. Ainsworth at the other end then had chance denied by Sambridge plunging to his left to hold on to the ball.

Having weathered the early pressure it was Blues now who were asking the questions, trying to kill of the game and with 5 mins left they effectively made sure of the points. Sub Callum Watts who’s becoming more influential with every game was played in by Gould, weaving past defenders his shot was pushed out by Chafer into the path of Moncur who had a simple tap in.

A last gasp push from Swifts forced Sambridge to turn the ball over but that was it securing another three points .

So another hurdle overcome , a collective organised team effort and another three goals to add to an already impressive tally . The coming weeks will see a busy period and if Blues can maintain their current form then we will see where it takes them.

Sambridge, Sammons, Jones, Okonkwo, Clark, Moncur, Gould (Oyenuga 86), Hahn, Chukwu (Watts 79),Knight, Gordon(Paxman 62)

Subs not used:McQueen, Wescott


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