Cronin Late Goal Earns Blues a Point
Sean Cronin's 90th minute header was enough to secure a share of the points against Staines Town writes The Mariner.
After Saturday's disappointing defeat the Blues although again not at their best produced an improved performance against a hard working but sometimes cynical Staines Town.It seemed at times some of their players were playing on ice such was the number of times they hit the deck under the slighted touch,indeed Staines striker Cox seemed to be trying to emulate Tom Daley!
A reshuffled home side made one change due to injury to DD Dumaka with Roman Michael-Percil coming into the side.
Both sides made an energetic start moving the ball on a playing surface which although not perfect benefited from the recent heavy rain and it was the Grays who had the first chance of the game when James Stevens corner saw Turner claw the ball away to Nathan Ferguson but hesitation allowed Bennet to clear comfortably.
Jaoa Carlos did well to win a freekick played in by Stevens who found Ferguson out wide his low cross was met by Bradley Fortnum-Tomlinson but his hooked effort fell just wide.
Blues had a let off at the other end when Sean Cronin dwelt on the ball allowing Wanadio the get in a shot that sailed past the post.
Tomlinson then used his pace to outstrip the visitors central defenders but unfortunately his ball into the path of Percil was just too heavy and the chance went begging.
The visitors pressing tactics were forcing Blues to rush their passes and on 25 minutes they were to get their reward,Kenny Beaney was caught in possession quickly dispossessed the ball was played to the pacy Wanadio who's shot although lacking any power appeared to deceive Lamar Johnson as he stood and watched the ball nestle in the bottom corner.
Blues forced two quick corners and was Beaney unlucky when from Stevens second kick he saw his back header go wide and high with Turner beaten.
Staines at this stage looked the sharper and more hungry team not allowing the homesters time on the ball and errors began to creep into the Blues game but they still posed the visitors problems with their quick breaks
Jay Leader embarked on a forward run releasing the ball to Percil who managed to win a corner.Sivas flighted kick sailed across the area without a Blues forward attacking the ball.
The second half saw the introduction of Harry Agonbar replacing Beaney who sustained a hamstring strain.
Blues took the game to Staines as they searched for the equaliser Carlos was becoming more influential using his pace down the flank a good run from him won a throw in the ball eventually found Percil who's inside pass to Nathan Ferguson allowed him to fire off a shot which failed to hit the target sailing over the bar.
Staines looked dangerous on the break with Wanadio the focus of many of their attacks causing Siva problems but to his credit he stuck to his task.
Blues were given a potential lifeline when the lively Percil ran at Staines fullback Felix resulting in what seemed at first glance to be a rather generous penalty award when there appeared very little contact.The normally reliable Stevens kick was struck with his usual power but lacked accuracy allowing Turner to block with his legs.
Blues had a let off and were equally thankful to keeper Johnson when he blocked Wanadio's fierce drive following a quick breakaway.
Blues continued to search for that elusive equaliser with manager Bentley bringing on Luke Reynolds to replace Stevens hoping his extra pace could unlock the visitors rearguard.
The tricky Percil weaved his way forward playing in Carlos who curled a shot which Turner did well to palm away for a corner.
Percil was then the recipient of a dreadful tackle by Bennet the visitors left back who quite clearly went over the top of the ball with studs showing,everybody expected a red card but although the incident was just feet away from his assistant the referee failed to even award a free kick.After lengthy treatment to Percil the official restarted the game with a bounce up at least ten yards forward from the original incident,another example of weak officiating.
Stung by this injustice Blues continued to probe for an opening,Tomlinson should have done better when in on goal failing to test Turner as his effort flew harmlessly wide.
Ferguson's header caused panic as Staines managed to scramble the ball away just as it appeared to be crossing the line.
Staines had played some neat football at times and caused Blues problems but were also guilty of some cynical tactics going down under the slightest of touches and in the second half a good deal of time wasting.It was the latter which was to cost them dear when in time added on Blues snatched a well deserved equaliser.
Ferguson found space out wide on the left and floated in a tantalising cross,Sean Cronin rose highest and beat Turner with a looping header to bring the scores level much to the delight of the Blues faithful.
There was barely time for the restart when Mr Killip blew his whistle to bring the game to a conclusion.To say Staines were upset with Blues equaliser would be an understatement displaying a good deal of petulance at the final whistle.
So not one of Blues better performances but certainly Mark Bentley got the reaction he was looking for with a much improved showing following Saturday's reversal against Bognor.The loss of Skipper Kenny Beaney is a blow but hopefully his hamstring strain will not keep him out of action for too long.Blues dropped to second in the table with Leiston replacing them at the top following their win against Brentwood.
Blues take a break from League action when they entertain Hullbridge Sports in the FA Cup at Mill Field on Saturday .There should be no room for complacency as Hullbridge will be looking to cause an upset having already beaten teams from a higher division.