Super Benno inspires comeback
By GAFC News
Grays overcame a two goal deficit to produce a remarkable win in this pulsating encounter with Hampton and Richmond at Mill Field on Wednesday evening
Grays Athletic 3-2 Hampton & Richmond Borough
Report from The Mariner
Grays overcame a two goal deficit to produce a remarkable win in this pulsating encounter with Hampton and Richmond at Mill Field on Wednesday evening.it was a game which had everything,two red cards,two what appeared to be serious injuries,two penalties,a penalty save, and a last gasp winner ,central to all of this was Blues manager Mark Bentley who was forced to don the keepers jersey as a result of Connor Goughs red card.The Blues faithful could not have foreseen this victory following a lacklustre first half riddled with errors.
James Stevens returned to the side following a two game absence due to illness with Mark Bentley dropping to the bench as Grays looked to build on Saturdays great win at Met Police.
Blues made a slow tentative start as the visitors were awarded an early free kick midway in the Grays half Jay Leader in typical fashion cleared the ball with a powerful header.The early exchanges produced nothing of note in the way of chances as both sides tested each other out, the Blues looked lethargic with no real urgency and were guilty of making unforced errors giving the ball away too easily.
The game was held up for some time when the visitors Ngassa fell heavily following a robust challenge by GB Dumarka who received a yellow card for his efforts. The same player then played in a dangerous low cross that was turned away at the expense of a corner which was eventually dealt with comfortably by the visitors.
Hampton were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area quickly followed by another following a rash challenge by Aaron Best appeals for a penalty were turned down but it was a lucky escape for the home side.Best then made amends for his error making a good run down the right forcing a corner.Frrom the resultant kick Jey Siva played the ball to James Stevens on the edge of the box who shaped to strike on goal but a poor first touch let him down and the chance was missed.
Kenny Beaney worked a good ball in to Dumarka who managed to get a shot away which was deflected for another Grays corner but the ball was cleared by the visitors,Charlie Moon then broke wide for Hampton but his effort flew harmlessly over.At this stage Hampton looked the sharper of the two sides as the Blues looked increasingly ragged and disjointed overhitting their passes and being knocked off the ball too easily.In a rare foray Carlos stabbed the ball wide after a good ball from Dumaka.
In the 39th minute came the incident which turned the course of the first half when Jay Leader sustained what looked initially to be a nasty injury following a last ditch tackle on Moon,after another lengthy delay he was eventually replaced by Louis Morrison Derbyshire .The injury certainly seemed to upset the home side who by now we're coming under intense pressure from the visitors and it was no surprise following a mix up from a throw in when Tom Collins outstripped the home defence and put the ball beyond Connor Gough who was stranded in no mans land.
Grays looked increasingly disjointed and it was no surprise when Charlie Moon netted the visitors second after brushing aside Manny Parry in time added on for the two injuries.
The Blues came out for the second half with a mountain to climb following probably their worst 45 minutes of the season.Manager Bentley made a change bringing on Correy Davidson at the expense of the ineffectual Jordan Wilson.Davidson played wide on the left with Carlos switching to the right in the hope their collective pace would upset the visitors.
Hampton should have increased their lead in the 48th minute following a corner when Moon was left with the goal at his mercy but somehow he managed to put the ball wide of the post.
Joel Nouble who has yet to reach the level of performance he achieved last season had a shot well saved by Smith in the visitors goal,and in the 52nd minute the same player fed Carlos who ran at the visitors rearguard he was eventually brought down following a clumsy challenge in the box leaving the referee no option but to award the penalty. James Stevens stepped up and confidently struck the ball past Smith to give Grays a lifeline.
Shortly after Stevens who was feeling the effects of his two match layoff was replaced by Bentley.The goal seemed to rejuvenate Grays as they began to pressurise the visitors ,Davidson and Carlos with their pace were influencing the game more and more as the home side looked for the equaliser.Hampton were being pinned back but they still looked dangerous on the break and came close when another efforts was just wide.
A good run from Carlos forced a corner which was scrambled away resulting in another corners the result of which was a powerful glancing header from Bentley to bring the scores level much to the delight of the home supporters.
The game was now on a knife edge and one felt the next score would decide the outcome,Hampton were unlucky when a header flew just over.The Blues however were now taking the game to the visitors, Davidson in particular.was a real danger with his electrifying pace and close control causing real problems,his ability to cross from tight situations was opening up chances for the Blues.Parry just failed to get on the end of a deep free kick into the visitors box.
In the 77th minute in an incident packed encounter came a double sending off, Moon chasing a through ball clashed with Gough in the home goal both players squared up to each other and after consultation with his assistant the referee dismissed the pair.With no sub keeper on the bench Bentley drew the short straw and went between the sticks.
It was important the home side protected their stand in custodian and to their credit they did just that until the 81st minute when a second penalty was awarded this time to the visitors following a rash challenge by Best.Man of the moment Bentley made an unorthodox but nevertheless vital save to keep the Blues in the game.
This let off lifted the the Blues as they continued to pressurise the Hampton rearguard,Davidson and Carlos were finding more and more space, Dumaka's dangerous cross resulted in a corner with Parrys header looking goal bound but was cleared off the line Dumarka was just wide from the rebound.
The match was now deep into injury time,Davidson went on a 50 yard run and his resultant drive flew just wide.Just as the game seemed to be over the Davidson Carlos combination came up with a last gasp winner,the former played a searching ball into Carlos who cut in from the right and curled a rasping shot into the top corner to give the home side what looked at the start of the half an improbable win.
it's an old football cliche that it's a game of two halves and nowhere was that more appropriate than tonight,in the first half the Blues certainly seemed to be suffering from a hangover after Saturdays impressive victory they lacked any cohesion and were too easily knocked off the ball so much so that the disgruntled home faithful made their views known in no uncertain terms.
Whatever manager Bentley said in the dressing room at half time it certainly had a galvanising effect as the home side set about their task playing at a higher tempo,moving the ball much more quickly and in Corey Davidson they have a player who in tandem with Joao Carlos possess real pace to cause opposition defences problems on the flanks.The only downside were the injury to the influential Jay Leader and the dismissal of Connor Gough
Leiston will be the visitors to Mill Field on Saturday they will provide tough opposition but the Blues should fear nobody as there improved form continues.
Grays Athletic: Gough Best-Riley Siva Leader Parry Wilson Nouble Beaney Dumaka Stevens Carlos
Subs: Bentley Morrison-Derbyshire Ferguson Davidson Marfo
To watch match highlights of the game go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYLc11zWdPM&feature=youtu.be
To watch Blues manager score and save a penalty go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykhnEi8L5LQ&feature=youtu.be
Videos filmed and edited by Kevin James