Mistaken Identity Proves Costly
Blues suffered from yet another controversial decision writes The Mariner.
Blues must be wondering what they have done to upset the footballing Gods when they were again victims of a refereeing blunder which saw Lheureux Menga dismissed for a second bookable offence, when in fact the infringement was committed by teammate Kwabena Osai. The decision certainly played a part in the outcome of this encounter and one wonders with eleven men on the field what the final result could have been.
Blues were forced to reshuffle their starting eleven due to Jamie Stuart’s suspension Midfielder Nathan Campbell dropped into the back four, with Stephane Ngamvoulou replacing him in midfield.
The opening exchanges saw Blues on the back foot as Sudbury showed their attacking intent. Callum Thomas was called into action inside the first three minutes, turning over a fierce volley from Parker.
Grays were finding it difficult to build any sort of momentum as Sudbury continued to ask all the questions raining in crosses on the visitors’goal which remained intact thanks to some resolute defending.
Having weathered the early storm, Blues forced their way back into the game. On 11 minutes Etienne Mukanya Kababola bludgeoned forward to the edge of the Sudbury area and after taking a return pass struck a sweet drive which took a slight deflection. Garnham though was equal to it turning the ball behind for a corner.
Blues found the 3G playing surface to their liking and began to move the ball well but in the 32nd minute a first booking for Menga was to be the turning point in the game .
Just minutes later a Blues’ attack broke down and as Sudbury moved the ball forward Osei made a reckless challenge leading to a free kick. The referee then pointed to the innocent Menga and issued him with a second yellow and subsequently a red card.
The bizarre decision had an immediate effect on the encounter. Sudbury buoyed by their one man advantage once again pushed Grays back, and eventually went in front. A cross to the far post found the unmarked Parker who nodded past the exposed Thomas in the 38th minute.
There was just enough time for Ngamvoulou to try a snapshot before the half time whistle brought to an end a frustrating first period for Grays.
Blues made a spirited opening with Jamie Mascoll prominent in the early stages driving forward down the left flank but his final ball lacked accuracy.
Sudbury were finding space out wide where Eagle was giving Osei a torrid time. They came close to increasing their advantage when a Wales header just cleared the Blues’ cross bar.
Blues were now coming under constant pressure and in the 64th minute that pressure told when Blackwell put the hosts two up. It could have been three moments later when Thomas came to Blues rescue with a block save from Newman.
Just four minutes later and they did get their third. A long throw into the box saw Wales rise unchallenged and glance the ball over Thomas.
Blues’ heads collectively dropped as Sudbury upped the tempo, cutting through the heart of the visitors’ midfield, who stood off their opponents allowing them a free run on goal.
Bantick made it four in the 74th minute, curling the ball past Thomas and into the bottom corner.
Blues were not making things easy for themselves as they tended to squander possession and too many times the ball was played forward aimlessly, allowing Sudbury to mount further attacks
It was no surprise then when Blackwell scored his second and Sudbury’s fifth with a low drive from outside the area with which Thomas probably should have done better.
Mukanya Kababola registered a consolation goal for Grays in the 90th minute rifling the ball past Garnham - the only highlight of a disappointing second half.
The result was a case of what if. If Menga had stayed on the pitch Blues could well have got something out of this encounter. As it is, they remain in the relegation zone although if they can battle for points they can escape into the pack.