Football: Grays get upper hand on Hashtag United

ON a cold windswept afternoon Blues returned to winning ways courtesy of a far post header from Geoffrey Okonkwo . Fans must have been thinking it was going to be another afternoon of what if after the woodwork had denied them on three occasions. Hashtag United had their moments, starting well but faded as the game wore on, allowing Blues to play down the clock in the closing quarter. A blustery crosswind made it a difficult afternoon for both sets of players, but despite the conditions they provided an exciting encounter. The win arrested a run of disappointing results and keeps Blues in the promotion hunt.

Hashtag made the better opening, with the wind at their back they were playing an expansive game where Carlos Flood looked lively causing Ryan Sammons some nervous moments. But what was to become a feature of the afternoon from both teams the final ball was left wanting.

Blues kept their goal intact after the early pressure, finally getting their game into gear and with their first real opportunity Okonkwo managed to get his head to a free kick in to the danger area but failed to generate power as the ball drifted slowly on to the upright . 

Momentum swung in Blues favour where Kai Brown and Aron Gordon’s pace caused the home defence some anxious moments but like the opposition the crucial final ball lacked penetration.

The pendulum now swung in the hosts favour forcing a succession of corners, but they were dealt with efficiently by Blues back line, Lewis Clark dominant in the air protecting Danny Sambridge and forcing Hashtag to shoot from distance. Jesse Waller – Lassen wasted an opportunity blasting wildly over.

It was Blues who finished the half strongly and could have snatched the lead when Gordon was played in but his prodded effort was held up in the strong wind and the chance was lost.

HT 0-0

Joni Vukaj had the first chance shortly after the break, but again his drive had power but lacked accuracy sailing harmlessly over.

Conditions deteriorated leading to a scrappy period of play, defences on top, the midfield congested, chances at a premium. Brown did create a moment of excitement breaking free down the flank, but wasted his good work with a delivery to its intended target David Knight failing to beat the first defender. Flood responded when he drove forward forcing Sambridge into his first meaningful save of the afternoon.

With an hour played Hashtag’s threat slowly petered out, Blues now held sway when Knight threatened, his shot pushed out by Page but no one was on hand to pick up the loose ball. Gordon was making a nuisance of himself out wide getting behind the home defence but frustratingly his delivery again failed to meet its target.

Hashtag looked vulnerable under the high ball, sensing this Anointed Chukwu was introduced at the expense of Brown and straightaway he made an impact, playing with aggression which had been missing of late in his game, he held the ball up bringing others into play and unsettling his markers.

The corner count mounted, the home goal came under increasing pressure and finally from another corner Blues broke the deadlock in the 74th minute. Played to the far post the ball found the head of Okonkwo who with the faintest of touches nodded the ball past Page’s outstretched hand.

You could sense the relief that finally after a number of near misses they had got their noses in front allowing Blues to play with more freedom and expression. Sub Danny Gould set off on a scintillating run gliding past defenders, only to be denied just as he was about to pull the trigger. Chukwu had a great opportunity to increase the advantage, lurking at the far post six yards out he failed to make good contact on the ball seeing it balloon onto the woodwork and over.

A belated late Hashtag rally failed to get its reward, Blues playing to the corners to see out the closing minutes to claim the points.

Sambridge, Sammons , Joynes, Okonkwo, Clark, Dark, Paxman (Gould 60),Hahn, Brown (Chukwu 70), Knight (Moncur 83) Gordon

Subs not used:McQueen, Watts

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