Isthmian Division North
Grays Athletic 0 v 2 Stowmarket Town
AS Jimmy Greaves once said “it’s a funny old game Saint,”Blues certainly proved that. After a superb high tempo performance on Wednesday against AFC Sudbury they produced a limp, lifeless display lacking drive and direction. Nothing should be taken away from Stowmarket who are a hardworking organised outfit but they were allowed the freedom of the park, seldom put under pressure dictating proceedings from start to finish. Apart from a Danny Gould header crashing off the woodwork, Blues increasingly resorted to shooting from distance rarely troubling James Brabrook in the visitors goal. The defeat now leaves Blues winless in their last three outings .
The opening minutes saw a Blues long throw, win an early corner but, more ominously a careless pass allowed Town to burst forward and see Danny Sambridge back pedalling when a Town player lobbed the ball just over. Next to profit from Blues carelessness was Tevan Allen missing the target narrowly.
Blues were increasingly caught cold by opponents who were sharper, they conceded possession in dangerous areas, to many it seems they were still in the dressing room such was the lack of commitment in their approach. Gould and Kai Brown were isolated out on the flanks starved of service from a midfield that was failing to match their counterparts work rate.
Alarmingly the visitors were invading space behind Blues left flank, where Willie Clemons was getting the better of Macca Joynes. Luke Brown looked menacing so it was no surprise after a number of chances went begging he put the visitors in front in the 24th minute. Not the first time a quick break exposed a square defence, Sambridge did well to touch away the ball from Clemons run into the box – Brown was on to the loose ball in a flash firing into the bottom corner.
A rare injection of pace saw Mitch Hahn lay the ball to Ryan Sammons whipping in a first time cross to Gould whose header rattled the crossbar. That was it as far as a Blues threat was concerned in the first period .
Town nearly made it two immediately after the break only the wood work intervening to deny them.
Any thoughts Blues would shake off their lethargy was quickly dispelled when they continued to be second best in vital areas – David Knight another starved of service dropped deeper and deeper to get on the ball blunting Blues goal threat .
Increasingly the visitors held sway, their passing and movement allowed them to spread play and continue to breach Blues back line but, despite this they still only held the one goal advantage – Blues still had a chance they could get back on terms, but they needed to up the tempo and in the last quarter they did manage to push Town back. Sub Aaron Gordon came close when he wriggled free on the right sliding an effort wide of the far post.
Still coming close on a number of occasions Stowmarket wrapped up the points with five minutes remaining – Joe Jefford was quickest to the ball from a corner nodding home from close range.
A disappointing defeat then for Blues who fell far below their normal performance level, it’s not a time to panic just yet but with some tricky games coming up they will need to regroup and add consistency to their performances .
After the game Paul Joynes voiced his disappointment at his charges adding that they failed to win their individual battles , lacked momentum and allowed Stowmarket to dictate play. He was in no doubt he will be looking for a reaction at Witham next Saturday
Sambridge, Sammons, Joynes, Okonkwo, Clark, Moncur (Watts 64), Paxman (Oyenuga 76),Hahn, Brown(Gordon 64), Knight, Gould
Subs not used: Chukwu, McQueen