Tomlinson Treble inspires Blues
Grays produced a professional performance at potential playoff hopefuls Staines Town on Tuesday evening writes The Mariner.
Staines Town 0-4 Grays Athletic
Ryman Premier League
Manager Mark Bentley questioned the players desire and commitment after Saturday's disappointing defeat at Hampton hoping for a reaction against Staines and he certainly got one with the Blues sweeping their hosts aside inspired by a Bradley Fortnum-Tomlinson hat trick. Jey Siva Jake Hutchins and Roman Michael Percil came into the starting eleven and all made a vital contribution to the victory.
Blues started the game brightly looking sharp and moving the ball quickly with both Jaoa Carlos and Percil seeing plenty of the ball out wide.The first opportunity for Grays fell to Montel Angyemang receiving the ball from Carlos he ignored Siva's clever overlap electing to shoot but failed to trouble Turner the ball sailing harmlessly over.
The opening quarter saw both sides looking for a goal scoring opportunity with DD Dumaka coming close for the Blues with a snapshot just fizzing over,whilst at the other end Lamar Johnson did well to claim the ball from a Cox header.Johnson was called into action moments later saving from winger Kalu who unleashed a powerful effort after a mazy run down Blues left flank.
Carlos and Siva were combining well out wide with Siva making some intelligent overlaps
creating space for his trademark crosses and with the midfield showing more purpose and pace Blues continued to ask questions of the home defenders.
The breakthrough came in the 23rd minute moments after Johnson again did well to get to a deflected drive from Wanadio.Blues counter attacked with Siva again prominent. From his throw Tomlinson picked the ball up cutting in to the edge of the box he let fly with a low drive beating Turner at his near post.
Staines stung by the goal forced Blues back winning a succession of corners all dealt with comfortably by the visitors although Jay Leader made an uncharacteristic error misjudging a long kick from Turner allowing Cox a run on goal, Johnson spared the defenders blushes with a smart block.
Blues began to show why they led the table early season with some quick decisive raids ,the lively Percil looked back to his best with some pacy runs one such forcing a good save from Turner.A great move between Percil and Tomlinson saw Dumaka with a scoring opportunity the ball deflecting for a corner following a quick challenge from Purse.In stretching for the ball Dumaka appeared to tweak his hamstring,after lengthy treatment he was replaced by Harry Agonbar.From the resultant corner Siva swung in a teasing ball met by the head of Leader who rose unchallenged to power the ball past Turner putting Blues two up with 40 minutes on the clock.
Chances came and went at either end and then on the stroke of half time Staines were offered a lifeline when Johnson in a rush of blood careered from his line bringing down Wanadio ,on another night he could well have earned a red rather than the yellow card he did receive.The keeper quickly went from villain to hero saving Cox's kick to preserve the Blues two goal advantage.
Staines emerged a good five minutes before the restart evidence of a far from happy home manager Steve Shorey the dressing down they must obviously have received down to Blues more determined approach in the first period.
The hosts forced an early corner Carlos cleared the danger which just illustrated the work ethic Blues now employed.Grays were looking to exploit the lack of pace in the home defence targeting veteran pro Purse both Tomlinson and Percil looked to take him on at every opportunity.Percil caused panic with another good run the Staines defenders scrambling the ball away only to find Carlos who's first time effort deflected for a corner.
Staines for their part plugged away but without threatening the Blues goal as had been the case in the first period.Grays midfield were content to retain possession moving the ball between them consequently the ball retention showed a marked improvement from Saturday's encounter at Hampton.
Tomlinson was posing a real threat playing on the last defender however he found himself flagged for offside on a number of occasions but it looked as though at some stage he would spring the offside trap which he did in the 60th minute.A pinpoint pass from Kenny Beaney saw the Blues striker one on one with Purse driving forward he easily out paced the ageing legs of the Staines man as Turner advanced he coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
The goal was no more than Blues deserved having looked comfortable in the second period.Staines huffed and puffed without carving out any clear cut opportunities with Leader and Jake Hutchins working well together at the heart of the defence.
The home side were still looking to get on the score sheet but their play became more rushed with passes over hit although Johnson had to be alert saving well from Huthinson.
On 79 minutes Blues got their fourth with Tomlinson claiming his hat trick,a high ball forward was allowed to bounce by the hapless Purse, Tomlinson outmuscled the burly centre back leaving Turner exposed he calmly rolled the ball home to round off what was a match winning display.
The goal seems to drain any fight from the home side and Blues comfortably saw out the remaining minutes registering their biggest league win since a similar score against Brentwood earlier in the season.Coupled with a clean sheet it was a valuable win and the three points keeps them in the playoff hunt.The only downside of the evening was the injury to top scorer Dumaka which looks likely to keep him out for a couple of weeks.
This confidence boosting win sets the boys up nicely for Saturday's clash with table toppers Dulwich Hamlet, earlier in the season Blues came away from Champion Hill with a 1-1 draw having dominating their hosts for the majority of the game.
GRAYS ATHLETIC: Johnson Ifil Siva Hutchings Leader Agyemang Michael-Percil Beaney Dumaka Fortnam-Tomlinson Carlos GRAYS ATHLETIC SUBS: Cummings Ekpiteta Stevens Addai Agombar