Blues Second Best In Basement Battle
Two late strikes and a red card consign Blues to another disappointing defeat writes The Mariner.
Even though the season has yet to reach half way this encounter between the League basement clubs was more than just the traditional six pointer whoever came out on top would see daylight put between themselves and the losers,unfortunately it was the Blues of Grays who came off second best against the Met Police.Having fought their way back into the game two late goals and a red card for manager Jamie Stuart sealed their fate.
The Met served notice of their intentions in the opening minutes when a flowing move cut through the Blues rearguard resulting in a strike from Hamici which whistled just wide of Amadou Tangara's upright.Blues were being put under constant pressure with Macklin in particular looking dangerous.
Blues goal held firm and they could have snatched the opener when good work down the right by David Fallah saw him send in a low cross which just evaded the onrushing Jamie Mascoll, Robinson deflecting the behind for a corner.
The game was now more of an even contest with Blues playing with pace,Mascoll was seeing plenty of the ball down the left flank,Harry Watkins looked busy and he was ably supported by Adiyinka Cole.The Met with the wind behind them were guilty of playing long balls which invariably sailed harmlessly over the byeline.
Watkins did well sidestepping a tackle and firing goal wards and then at the other end the Met were awarded a free kick for what appeared to be an innocuous challenge from a referee who appeared to be favouring the home side with many of his decisions, fortunately Tangara made a smart stop to keep the scores level.
With both sides going close it was the home side that broke the deadlock in the 41st minute and as happens so often it was an ex Blue who played a part in the goal.Roman Michael-Percil who up till now had been easily contained found himself in space out wide on the left he quickly advanced on the Blues goal ,Tangara rashly charged from his goal to narrow the angle leaving the Met man the simple task of playing the ball wide of him into the path of Macklin who had a simple tap in despite there being a suspicion of offside.The home side could have increased their advantage moments later when Hamici turned and unleashed a fierce shot that flew just over.
Blues made a change at half time with new signing Kieran Bishop making his debut up front at the expense of Watkins.
Hamici once again came close just after the break rising unchallenged in the six yard box but he failed to hit the target when his header dropped wide of the upright.
The withdrawal of Watkins allowed the home side to dominate the midfield using the extra man to monopolise the play,Blues though were not helping their cause squandering possession cheaply and failing to close down the opposition in tight areas giving them time and space on the ball.
Michael-Persil caused panic at the back seeing his shot blocked with a desperate challenge and then the rebound fired just over.The home side with the one goal advantage seemed content to hold on to what they had dealing comfortably with Blues sporadic attacks which lacked any penetration.
Blues were thrown a lifeline though in the 79th minute when a speculative long ball into the Met area seemed to be sailing out for a goal kick when Mclaughlin inexplicably threw out a hand conceding a clear penalty.Blues fans must have feared the worst with memories of the poorly taken spot kick against Barking but Cole stepped up and cooly despatched the ball past Baxter.
The goal gave the Blues an immediate lift and they set about looking for a winner but they were to stay level for only five minutes when once again poor defending allowed the Met to restore their advantage.The home side were awarded what looked a soft free kick wide on the left,the ball was played in and appeared to bobble around the six yard box without a Blues player getting a touch on the ball Sogbanmy was the quickest to react and he prodded the ball home.It was a badly conceded goal and just like last week at Lowestoft it came with just six minute remaining.
Blues afternoon only got worse when four minutes later Stuart was red carded following a second bookable offence.Just to rub salt into their wounds Blues fell further behind in injury time Collins wrapped up the game and three points tapping in from a Smith cross who appeared to foul Mascoll as he went for the ball but the Blues protests were waived away by the officials.
So a very disappointing afternoon for the Blues faithful,it's beginning to sound like a broken record but poor defending and squandering possession together with a toothless attack is costing dear.There are still plenty of points to play for and every game now has to be treated like a cup final with maximum effort require throughout the 90 minutes of every game.