Derby Day Mayhem
An extraordinary evening of football saw Blues lose out in a 9 goal thriller against local rivals Canvey Island writes The Mariner
It's never dull watching Grays Athletic that's for sure and this local derby between two old rivals provided goals galore, Keystone Cops defending, a missed penalty, and a second half which saw eight goals scored six of which came in a madcap twelve minute spell. At half time with just the one goal advantage in favour of Canvey no one would have envisaged the second half goal bonanza that eventually unfolded.At one stage Blues found themselves 4-0 down but rallied and made a remarkable comeback only to see suicidal defending allow Canvey to register a further two goals and put the game beyond Blues reach.
Jamie Stuart gave a league debut to keeper Charley Aldis deputising for the holidaying Lamar Johnson and it was certainly a baptism of fire for the youngster who although culpable for some of the goals was given little protection by his back four.
Canvey made the early running and soon threatened the home goal when Collins tried his luck from outside the area firing just over the upright.Aldis was quickly into action saving from a Gilbey free kick.It was Glen Poole who provided Blues first opportunity but he failed to hit the target , shortly after ex Canvey man Callum Ibe came close with a half chance seeing his effort slide past the upright.
Canvey were rewarded for their early pressure in the tenth minute , winning a free kick wide on Blues right flank ,Gilbey played the ball into the danger area and with Blues defenders failing to make a challenge the ball sailed past the startled Aldis and nestled in the bottom corner.
The goal stunned Blues but to their credit they rallied,Poole provided an opening for Jamie Slabber, a searching cross field pass was brought under control by the Blues striker who tested keeper Jones with a quick strike.Poole then had an opportunity himself when a Ryan Mahal cross to the far post found Suley Zuhdu ,his back header dropped to Poole, his snapshot looked destined for the top corner but Jones produced a smart save turning the ball over. It was to be the last involvement for the Blues midfielder after he was clattered to the ground and limped off to be replaced by Furo Gogo-Ibiama.
Canvey upped the tempo and could have increased their advantage but a double save from Aldis first parrying a Gilbey effort and then blocking the follow up from Sykes denying them. Gilbey then missed a golden opportunity to increase the visitors advantage latching on to a through ball past the Blues back line but failed to hit the target blasting over.Sykes and Gilbey were proving to be a real thorn in Blues side and the pair combined when Sykes sent in a fierce drive Aldis failed to hang on to the ball allowing Gilbey to touch the loose ball home only to be denied by an offside flag.
You could say the first half was the calm before the storm because those fans present could not have imagined what would unfold in the second period ,but they soon found out .Just two minutes into the half Canvey doubled their advantage when Sykes was challenged inside the Blues area ,the ball deflected into the path of Collins who made no mistake drilling the ball past Aldis, 47 mins. 2-0.
Blues quickly replied, good work by Ibe saw him cut the ball back to the onrushing Slabber, he stabbed the ball goal wards only to see Jones save with an outstretched leg,
The 52nd minute saw the start of the goal avalanche when Sykes chased a long ball over the Blues back four, Aldis advanced from his line but hesitated allowing the Canvey man to toe the ball past him and walk the ball home , 52 mins.3-0. Two minutes later and Sykes was on the scoresheet again receiving ,the ball unmarked on the edge of the area he unleashed an unstoppable drive past the exposed Aldis , 54 mins.4-0.
By this time Blues fans were fearing the worst, Canvey seemingly scoring with ease against a Blues team who looked down,and out but they somehow managed to conjured up a goal. From a corner Mahal registered his and Blues first goal getting his head to the ball through a throng of players, Jones got a hand to the ball but couldn't prevent it crossing the line,57 mins.4-1.
The goal had a galvanising effect, Blues suddenly looked hungry for the ball and began to play with the pace and precision they displayed against Bowers and Pitsea , they were rewarded when Ibe bundled the ball home following a free kick, 61 mins.4-2
Canvey almost scored from the restart, Gilbey should have put them further in front but failed to hit the target when well placed - a let off for Blues but they were not to be denied . Another raid saw Jones save from a Slabber header but he could only paw the ball away to the lurking Zuhdu, he scuffed his effort which fell kindly to Adeyinka Cole who gratefully swept the ball home ,64 mins.4-3.
Blues fans euphoria was short-lived however when from the restart another ball over the top exposed Stuart's lack of pace allowing Gilbey a clear run on goal ,Aldis advance to narrow the angle but again a moments hesitation allowed the Canvey man to lift the ball over the Blues keeper and into an unguarded net.65 mins 5-3.
Gilbey nearly added to his own tally when he outstripped Stuart and sent in a blistering drive which Aldis claimed at the second attempt, The Blues keeper turned from hero to villain and back to hero in the 67th minute when he brought down the marauding Sykes who was virtually unplayable on the night. Sykes stepped forward with the kick only to see Aldis make a brilliant save diving to his left.
A shell shocked Blues plugged away manfully to no avail and went further behind when Sheehan climbed highest from a corner powering a header past Aldis 70 mins.6-3 .
The goal brought to an end the goal glut, Canvey were content to hold on to what they had,Blues did have one final opportunity when the hard working Zuhdu powered forward but his powerful drive was saved well by Jones.
The final whistle brought to an end a pulsating local derby between the two old protagonists in a game that will be remembered for some time to come . Canvey supporters went home cheered by their teams efforts on the night, and to their credit the visitors looked a well organised outfit that will be up there competing for honours come the end of the season.For Blues fans they must be wondering where the next win is coming from ,however it s difficult to be too critical of the defeat,.They can point to a number of injuries and the absence of first choice keeper Johnson as mitigating circumstances and will be hoping when manager Stuart is able to pick from a fully fit squad then fortunes may change.
Blues entertain struggling Brentwood Town at Parkside on Saturday.
Aldis, Mahal,Cross, Stuart, Fowler Muguo, Poole(Ibiama 32 mins), Cole, Slabber , Zuhdu , Ibe
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