All square in Blues opener
Whilst holiday makers soak up the summer sun so football fans embark on another season with high hopes Writes The Mariner
Whilst holiday makers soak up the summer sun so football fans embark on another season with high hopes that their teams can provide them with days to remember and trophies come the end of April.Blues fans are no exception as they look to their team to go one better than last season and secure a promotion place writes The Mariner.
Blues welcomed their Nemesis from last seasons campaign when they entertained Hendon at Mill Field on Saturday in the season opener and at the end of 90 minutes both teams shared the points in a game which although not living long in the memory was mitigated by the heat and difficult playing surface.Manager Bentley gave debuts to Tommy Cummings and Roman Michael Percival and both acquitted themselves well.
Blues made the early running when a neat combination between Joaoa Carlos and Nathan Ferguson saw the latters effort slide just wide of the post with Hendon keeper Wright beaten,the visitors quickly countered with Morgan in on goal but Lamar Johnson made a smart save to snuff out the danger.
Bradley Fortnum-Tomlinson playing as the lone striker was making some intelligent pacy runs which seemed to unsettle the Hendon rearguard but was not always receiving the right ball.On eight minutes Ferguson embarked on a good run laying the ball to skipper Kenny Beaney his clever chip agonisingly looped over the crossbar.
Hendon were content to sit back and allow Grays to play across them as the Blues failed to deliver balls into the box quickly enough allowing the visitors to hit them on the counter.
The tactic worked in the 15th minute when a hurried clearance found Sean Cronin one on one with the burly Hendon striker Morgan who out muscled the Grays man and slotted the ball past Johnson to put the visitors one up.
Errors began to creep into the Blues game as they became careless in possession giving the ball away to easily,James Stevens usually so influential found it difficult to get into the game as Hendon began to assert control in midfield.
Too many times the ball was played forward to the ever willing Tomlinson but he found himself isolated up front as the midfield failed to push forward in support.
Grays came close to snatching an equaliser in the 43rd minute, Cronin's glancing header from a Jey Siva cross just falling the wrong side of the post.
Blues upped the tempo at the start of the second period,just five minutes after the break a typical Stevens pass found Carlos wide on the right he cleverly sidestepped his defender and his shot looked destined for the back of the net until a timely clearance from the visitors defender managed to scoop the ball away.
Grays were now playing with more urgency and continued to probe for the equaliser,a Siva cross found Ferguson who brought a good save from Wright,Tomlinson whipped in a low cross which failed to find a Blues shirt on the end of it.
Tommy Cummings fired in from distance,Wright diving to his right to save,and then on 65 minutes Grays drew level somewhat fortuitously,a hopeful high ball into the box was met by Flegg who failed to get good enough contact on the ball and his sliced effort beat the stranded Wright much to the delight of the home fans.
The goal lifted the home side and for a time Hendon looked rattled but the Blues still had to remain alert and switched on no more so when Bettache broke clear and brought an excellent block from Johnson to keep the scores level.
Michel-Persil made way for Lamar Reynolds making his Blues debut as the game began to open up,Hendon content to sit and protect their lead until the Grays goal now began to open up forcing a corner safely dealt with by the home defence.Stevens was replaced by Glen Little lending his vast experience to the fray and he quickly influenced play with some probing passes.
In the latter stages the game began to ebb and flow both defences coming under pressure but managing to hold out. Bentley replaced the tiring Ferguson to as the clock ticked down.
Siva curled an effort just over and Tomlinson did well chasing down what looked a lost cause quickly turning his shot saved well by Wright,it was to be the last goal bound effort of the game as the Referee brought proceedings to a close.
Both managers would have settled for a point on the opening day of the season,Mark Bentley has the luxury of knowing he has Alex Addai and DD Dumaka still to come into the side and would have learnt a lot from today's encounter.There is an awful long way to go but it's always good to get points on the board after the first gane.
The Blues now travel to Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday evening where they experience mixed fortunes last season winning in the League with a comprehensive 2-0 victory which in truth could have been doubled with better finishing.They followed this up with a poor display in The FA Trophy.Tonbridge had a good win on Saturday but the Blues will look forward to playing on an excellent playing surface which will suit their passing game.