Felixstowe and Walton United 0 v 1 Grays Athletic
DESPITE losing David Knight and Ryan Sammons to contentious red cards Blues showed grit and determination to withstand a late Felixstowe surge to record a win that kept them firmly in the playoff places. Two reds and six yellow cards would suggest this was a feisty encounter but that could not be further from the truth.
The game itself was not pretty on the eye with a gusty wind and uneven surface hampering both teams but it must be said the referee was, being generous, over fussy with Blues seemingly punished for innocuous challenges Sammons was the first in the book inside the first five minutes for a challenge although mistimed was not malicious but Mr Mingay thought otherwise brandishing a yellow.
That was the first of many debatable decisions ultimately leading to the high card count. Knight saw red on 75 minutes leaving them down to ten men but they defended resolutely protected their earlier lead and when Sammons also saw red on 87 minutes it was left to the nine men to dig in and see out the closing minutes.
Blues had a lucky escape after just three minutes when Ollie Canfer capitalised on a loose ball firing wide of the woodwork.After this early chance the game failed to settle down both teams finding the conditions difficult and play became scrappy.
Anointed Chukwu was the recipient of Blues first chance when he broke free on the right flank striking the ball across the six yard box, But it was the hosts who so nearly edged in front when Canfer’s header looked bound for the back of the net only for Danny Sambridge to pull out a brilliant save to turn the ball over. He was in action again when he fisted away a deflected free kick.
A ball into the home box caused panic when Joe Wright miskicked but Blues failed to take advantage allowing Callum Robinson to grab the loose ball. That was it as far excitement was concerned save for Mr Mingay to book two Blues and one Seasiders for challenges only he saw as worthy of censure.
Blues made a bright start to the second period pressing forward and pressurising the home goal but failing to test Robinson and once again play was disjointed . Knight did link well with Gordon drifting into the box he unleashed a fierce shot which Robinson grabbed at the second attempt.
Both teams tried to get the ball down and play but conditions prevented cohesive movement and so play was bogged down in midfield with just the occasional flurry of goalmouth action. The hosts won a number of corners all successfully defended where Lewis Clark was dominant . Any opportunities at both ends invariable ended with the ball flying over the woodwork.
But then on 61 minutes Blues made the breakthrough. A long throw into the box was only half cleared, Knight pounced on the loose ball and crashed the ball through a crowded six yard box into the net. Shortly after Kweku Lucan drove forward but blasted over.
The hosts responded when a speculative effort from Wright forced Sambridge to turn the ball over.
75 minutes saw Knight’s afternoon end when he was substituted, as he made his way off the pitch, bizarrely the official followed talking to him and just as he was about to leave the pitch something was said and a red card proffered.
Now down to ten men Blues came under pressure , the host sensing they could salvage something from the afternoon but Blues held firm getting numbers behind the ball to protect their lead. In between the official still managed to show yellow to Gordon and Kai Brown.
Winning a number of corners and free kicks Felixstowe laid siege to Blues goal, they did get the ball in the net on 80 minutes but it was ruled out for offside. After that Sambridge was rarely troubled but then Sammons saw red on 87 minutes for another innocuous challenge leaving Blues to see out the final minutes to record a hard working three points.
Sambridge, Sammons, Joynes, Okonkwo, Clark, Dark, Lucan (Brown 66), Smith, Chukwu, Knight, Gordon( McQueen 88)
Subs not used:Hahn, Moncur, Paxman