Blues Clip Hawks Wings
Blues produced a gritty performance against mid table Harlow writes The Mariner
Grays recorded their first win since August with a battling display against Harlow Town, scoring three goals for the first time this season. In the process.It was a victory won by hard work and a fighting spirit - something which will have pleased Manager Jamie Stuart.
Blues gave a debut to new signing Nathan Cambell and he certainly made an impact adding much needed steel to the midfield and gave protection to his back four.
It was Harlow who were quick out of the blocks winning a corner in the first minute cleared by the home rearguard.The blustery conditions were making it difficult for both sides making control difficult.
With Luke Hornsley back in the side Blues were offering more threat going forward and he was instrumental in Blues' opening goal in the 5th minute.Winning the ball from former Blue Craig Pope, he flicked the ball through to Etienne Mukanya Kababola who - although under pressure - prodded past Thompson to give the Blues the early advantage.
Boosted by the goal, Grays began to play with more confidence.. Mukanya Kababola was giving Pope a torrid time and was ably supported by Lheureux Menga as the home side looked to consolidate their advantage. Adiyenka Cole looked lively, combining well with Hornsley and saw his low drive saved comfortably by Thompson.
Horsley was denied his second goal for the club when he broke clear of the Hawks back four but was pulled back for offside although it looked a harsh design.
Harlow's main threat was coming from the long throws of Sonko, although Read came close flashing a drive just wide of the Grays' goal with Callum Thomas beaten.
Blues increased their lead on the half hour mark. A Harlow attack broke down on the edge of the Grays box. The ball was played out to Harry Watkins who deftly played the ball into the path of Menga,. Powering forward he shrugged off Sonko's challenge and slotted home past the advancing Thompson.
Harlow came back strongly after the goal, pushing Grays back by winning a succession of free kicks and corners as they looked for a way back into the game.They were rewarded for their efforts in the 41st minute when Sonko was quickest to the ball following a free kick glancing the ball past Thomas.
Harlow again started brightly in the second period pushing Grays back, but despite the pressure Thomas was rarely called into action. Stuart and Cambell were prominent winning a number of vital headers mainly from the long throws of Sonko.
Blues were coming under sustained pressure from their visitors but despite this Harlow were not creating any openings as Blues worked hard to nullify the attacks.
Blues trio of Menga, Hornsley and Mukanya Kababolo worked hard up front and threatened occasionally against a physical back four where Simms was lucky not to go into the referee's notebook following a succession of robust challenges.
Blues continued to work tirelessly, breaking quickly when the opportunity came. Jamie Mascoll used his pace and combined well with Mukanya Kababola working the Harlow right flank probing for that third goal .
It was clear the next goal would be vital and determine the outcome of the match,. Fortunately for the Blues faithful it was the home side who claimed it in the 63rd minute..Blues broke quickly out of defence Kababola fed the ball into Cole who cleverly sidestepped a challenge slipping the ball to Harry Watkins. Taking a touch the young midfielder unleashed a fierce drive which took a slight deflection and flew past the outstretched hands of Thompson.
The goal was no more then the young Blues deserved and gave them that vital two goal cushion which allowed them to play with more freedom.Harlow to their credit continued to look for an opening but the Blues' goal held firm until the final whistle.
So a vital three points and a much needed confidence boosting win and with the addition of Grays' legend Stuart Thurgood to the coaching staff Blues will look forward to the visit of high flying Tonbridge Angels at Mill Field on Saturday.