Thursday, May 30, 2024

Football: Disappointing end to Grays Athletic’s season

IT was a case of what if on Easter Monday. At the start of this long and largely successful season Blues were hit by a crippling injury list and now history has repeated itself as the season comes to a conclusion. Facing Canvey, they were without seven regulars through a combination of injury and suspension – so the patched up starting eleven deserve great credit for remaining in the game despite trailing by three goals at the break and losing Freddie Moncur after 37 minutes. Some contentious officiating didn’t help their cause, with two decisions in particular which could have changed the focus of the match. 

Blues were quick out of the blocks taking the game to their hosts where Kai Brown was enjoying success down the flank occupying the attentions of ex Blue Jay Siva. 

Inside the first five minutes came the first moment of controversy, a dangerous cross into the six yard box saw Ben Sampayo cushion a back pass to keeper Bobby Mason, with everyone expecting the referee to blow for a free kick he waved play on. Just two minutes later Blues were again victim of a poor decision which led to Canvey taking the lead.

Geof Okonkwo was subject of a heavy and what looked a clear foul but once again the referee waved play on, the ball was played forward at pace to the far post where a slight deflection found Matt Price side footing past Danny Sambridge.

The goal failed to deter Blues who continued to probe, Brown again figured providing an opportunity for David Knight who turned and fired over. But Canvey after a slow start now tested Blues makeshift back line and on 26 minutes added a second goal. An innocuous ball bounced awkwardly on the edge of the box Evan Kouassi was quickest to react putting the ball past Sambridge.

The difference between the two sides at this stage was clear, Canvey capitalised on the two chances created, clinical in front of goal, Blues in contrast although creating chances failed to convert them. 

On 37 minutes they fell further behind and were reduced to ten men when Moncur saw red for a deliberate handball preventing what looked like a shot bound for the back of the net, Price converted from the spot. 

Just before the break Kouassi should have made it four when he outfoxed Rimmel Daniel and with only Sambridge to beat he blazed wildly over.

HT 3-0

Canvey held sway at the start of the second period pushing Blues back and coming close after a goalmouth scramble, Sambridge eventually grabbing the ball.

Settling Blues were still looking to get back in the game, Knight tried his luck from distance testing Mason with a fierce drive. Okonkwo got his head to the ball from a corner seeing it drop wide of the woodwork and then Knight supplied a cross just eluding Brown. A Canvey break resulted in a drive from Kouassi turned behind by Sambridge 

With the three goal advantage Canvey dropped their intensity, signalling a Blues revival, playing neat controlled football. Chukwu created a golden opportunity for sub Callum Watts who side footed straight at Mason.

Blues were rewarded for their enterprise on 71 minutes Daniel out jumped defenders his header was pushed away by Mason finding Chukwu who made no mistake slamming the ball home. Mitch Hahn came close moments later with an effort sliding agonisingly wide and then Don Tantale weaved his way forward and slid a shot inches wide.

But despite a spirited second half performance by the ten men the final whistle signalled the end of the game and Blues hopes of reaching the playoffs.

Sambridge, McQueen, Joynes, Okonkwo, Daniel ( Wright 84), Hahn, Paxman(Watts 64), Moncur, Chukwu, Knight, Brown (Tantale 77)

Subs not used:Clark., Miller.


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