Leiston Held By Spirited Blues
Grays finished all square against their lofty opponents Writes The Mariner.
The young Blues produced one of their best performances of the season so far with a spirited display matching their high flying opponents for long periods in an entertaining encounter, indeed any neutral would have been hard pushed to believe the gulf in league positions .Blues gave a debut to new signing Amadou Tangara between the sticks and he acquitted himself well particularly in the later stages.
Tangara was called into action as early as the third minute when he made a smart stop from Winter but after this early scare Blues took the game to Leiston playing with real energy and denying their opponents time and space on the ball.
Adiyenka Cole returning after a one match suspension was a hive of activity in midfield looking to get on the ball at every opportunity driving Blues forward he was ably supported by Harry Watkins who is shaping into an accomplished midfielder after an extended run in the team.
Blues fans must have feared the worst after such a bright start when Leiston went in front in the 18th minute and it was defensive errors once again that led to the goal.Tangara failed to gather the ball cleanly from a Lawrence effort the loose ball fell to Nathan Campbell who made a hash of his clearance with the ball finding Heath in space he cleverly chipped the ball over the stranded Tangara from a tight angle
Buoyed by the goal the visitors enjoyed a deal of possession without increasing their advantage thanks to Tangara who atoned for his earlier error with some sure handling he was ably supported by Campbell and Jordan Aghaste.
Blues weathered the storm and gradually forced their way back into the game,Cole again was the catalyst so much so that he was subject of some robust challenges from the visitors.David Fallah in his second game back after injury was beginning to cause the visitors problems, he came close to levelling the scores after a flowing move saw him in on goal his snap shot bringing a great reaction save from Marsden.
It was now more of an even contest with both sides searching for an opening, the lively Heath brought another good save from Tangara whilst at the other end Fallah continued to cause havoc.
Blues energetic play was finally rewarded in the 41st minute courtesy of Watkins,patient build up saw him collect the ball some 30 yards from goal looking up he struck the ball into the bottom corner past Marsden who probably should have done better.
The goal was just reward for the Blues endeavours but again Tangara had to be alert in the closing minutes of the half saving smartly from a driven free kick.
Blues were quickly into their stride after the break, good work by Etienne Kababola and Fallah saw Cole send in a delightful cross to the head of Luke Hornsley who saw his header sail over.
The enigmatic Kababola showed what he is capable of latching on to the ball he outwitted Dunbar cutting the ball back from the dead ball line to Lheureux Menga who hooked the ball goal wards but wide of the upright.
Leiston had an opportunity to go in front from a free kick but once again Tangara saved well, he again kept the Blues in the game with a brave save at the feet of an onrushing Blake when a goal looked the likely outcome.
Not to be outdone Blues continued to work hard and press for an opening Richard Paquette replaced the hard working Hornsley and he was quickly into the action getting on the end of another flowing move but fired into the arms of Marsden.Fallah then did well to feed Kababola but again his effort failed to trouble Marsden.
In the last quarter Leiston upped the tempo and began to push Blues back,Manager Jamie Stuart replaced the tiring Watkins to add some steel to the midfield but it was the visitors who continued to apply the pressure.Blues cause was not helped by yet again some dubious refereeing decision the majority of which went again the hosts.
Leiston should have gone in front when a corner to the far post eluded everyone except Finch who stabbed wide with Tangara beaten,it was a lucky let off for the Blues but for once luck was on their side in contrast to previous matches.
Despite the late pressure Blues continued to work hard for each other and at the final whistle they were rewarded with loud and long applause from the their faithful fans who appreciated a much improved performance and an end to a run of defeats.
There were signs tonight that showed manager Stuart's demand for hard work and commitment is beginning to work and he is getting closer to the right blend of players to get the side moving up the table.The key now is for the players to believe in themselves and bring some consistency to their performances.
They take a break from league action when they entertain Wingate and Finchley on Sunday in the FA Trophy.