Solid performance from Grays Wins The Day.
Blues returned from Burgess Hill on Saturday with all three points in another all round team performance writes The Mariner
Blues were good value for the win and could have come away with more than the two goals such was their dominance for much of the game.
Manager Mark Bentley named anunchanged side following Tuesday nights win at Tonbridge Angels.
Grays made a quick start when James Stevens played a clever clever ball into DD Dumaka but his snapshot was just wide of the post.
Bradley Tomlinson then played a wonderful diagonal ball to Joao Carlos who controlled the ball quickly and played a great ball across goal but wasn't able to find a Blues player in the box. Grays were controlling proceedings as Burgess Hill found it difficult to gain a foothold in the game. The visitors were resorting to some robust challenges which initially went unchecked by the referee.
it was a fully 15 minutes before the hosts had an attempt on goal when a glancing header from Kirkwood was comfortably gathered by Lamar Johnson.
Tomlinson struck a cross shot which was saved by James in the home goal,, Tomlinson then made another good diagonal run across the hosts' area but his shot was just wide of the post.
Tomlinson and Carlos were really upsetting the rather cumbersome Burgess Hill back line with their blistering pace creating it seemed a goal scoring chance at every opportunity.
In the 26th minute Dumaka robbed home defender Keehan which left him a clear run on goal drawing the keeper he made no mistake unleashing a fierce shot past James to put the Blues one up.
Carlos was giving his full back a torrid time seemingly beating him at will and was the focal point for many of the Blues' attacks. Following yet another foul on Carlos Jey Siva delivered a great free kick met with a powerful header from Dumaka which beat the keeper and unfortunately the crossbar.
Burgess Hill were offering very little upfront and any forward movement was easy snuffed out by Jay Leader and Sean Cronin.
James Stevens then found Tomlinson whose effort from an acute angle flashed across the home goal mouth without a Grays player making contact.
Burgess Hill forward forays were spasmodic and they were continually being picked off by the Blues quick counter attacks,Tomlinson combined well with Ferguson and Beaney who found Siva out wide but his cross was headed away for a corner and Leader was unlucky when he rose highest from the corner - the ball dropping wide of the post.
Blues had a fright just before the interval when Ferguson was dispossessed and Jones tested Johnson with a shot from just outside the area which he gathered comfortably.
The visitors looked comfortable controlling the first half and probably could have gone in more than just the one goal up.
As was expected the hosts started with more urgency, in the 46th minute they won a freekick on the edge of the Blues' area taken by Jones but his effort was blocked.
Siva then did well chasing down what seemed a lost cause. He managed to get a shot in which the keeper did well to block with his legs.
Burgess Hill were more of a threat in this opening period and Blues were thankful to Johnson who made a smart save when the ball looped in the air and found Smith unmarked.
Blues increased their lead in the 59th minute when Stevens played one of his trademark cross balls to Carlos who quickly brought the ball under control and played it into the path of Tomlinson. He cut inside on to his left foot and drilled the ball into the bottom corner to give the Blues a two goal cushion.
The hosts made a double substitution on 61 minutes to try and bring some pace into their attack but it was the Blues still making all the running. From another Grays corner the ball was played deep to Ferguson. He played in Cronin and his clever chip found the head of Dumaka but his header looped just over .
With a two-goal advantage the Blues seemed to ease off the pace and began to drop a little deeper allowing Burgess Hill to come forward more and consequently they were more of a threat in front of goal. From a corner Smith should have done better with his effort which sailed harmlessly over.
Grays were guilty of giving the ball away needlessly as illustrated by Cronin played Beaney into trouble who was dispossessed but Johnson made a smart save to deny the hosts.
At the other end Dumaka was proving a real handful and was unlucky with a snapshot that was just wide. Michael-Percil then went on a penetrating run and combined well with Dumaka playing a neat one two. On receiving the ball his shot was blocked when it looked bound for the back of the net.
Burgess Hill did get a consolation goal in the 88th minute Harding's shot hitting the post and rebounding to the grateful Smith who slotted the ball home.
So another three points for Blues on their travels. It was a game they controlled for long periods,but in the last 20 minutes they seemed to ease off the pace and allow Burgess Hill into the game - something the manager I'm sure will be addressing.
On Tuesday Blues travel to Park Lane to take on Canvey Island in the first round of the Alan Turvey Trophy (League Cup). This may be an opportunity for manager Bentley to use the game to give some of his squad players a run out.Kick off is 7.45pm.
Grays Athletic: Johnson Ifill Sivapathasindaran Cronin Leader Stevens Fortnam-Tomlinson Beaney Dumaka Ferguson Carlos
Subs: Reynolds Bentley Cummings Little Michael-Persil
Match Highlights available here. With thanks to Kevin James for the footage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixfSrNua12E&feature=youtu.be