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GRAYS ATHLETIC 1st TEAM - Match centre

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Grays Athletic
AFC Sudbury
Sat 13 Jan 15:00 - The Bostik Football League - North Division Full time Attendance 157


Bishop and Cole goals sealed a much needed win writes The Mariner

Blues returned to winning ways in an entertaining game against AFC Sudbury and for the second league game running ,ace striker Kieran Bishop netting a brace backed up by an audacious penalty from Ade Cole. The win and performance was consolation for the disappointing cup exit against Romford on Wednesday evening. Apart from the overall team display what would also have been pleasing for manager Jamie Stuart was the performance of sixteen year old Callum Thompson at left back who laid claim to make the position his own.With other results going in Blues favour they remain in touching distance of the play offs .

Blues made three changes from last weeks draw at Heybridge with Richard Halle,Barry Cogan and Thompson coming into the starting eleven.

The visitors made a positive start taking the game to Blues, showing aggressive attacking intent they won the early skirmishes putting Blues rearguard under pressure . Joe Bruce and Halle were working tirelessly to stem the tide of attacks grateful just to clear the danger with long punts forward . Jamie Slabber and Bishop were feeding off scraps at this stage but it was Bishop who came closest to opening the scoring when he chased a ball down to the byeline but instead of cutting the ball back he elected to try his luck but his aim was wayward.

Sudbury quickly replied winning a corner Joe Wright saw his downward header spilled by Lamar Johnson,Phil Kelly was quick to react pouncing on the loose ball and should have done better blasting wildly into the side netting.Shortly after Sam Mills found himself in acres of space and unleashed a fierce drive that whizzed wide of the upright.

The two close shaves seemed to jolt Blues out of their lethargy and they at last began to play with urgency moving the ball at pace and winning a succession of corners with Halle getting on the end of most of them but his headers lacked accuracy, dropping the wrong side of the post and crossbar. Young Thompson featured prominently during this period of pressure and combined well with Joao Carlos working the left flank to good effect.

Play ebbed and flowed with both sides playing attractive football in the right spirit providing plenty of entertainment to warm both sets of fans on a chilly afternoon. Sudbury just about shaded possession at this stage ,they came close again in the shape of Mekhi McKenzie flashing a header wide of the upright whilst at the other end Halle saw his header enjoy a similar fate.

With the clock ticking down to the break Blues finally broke the deadlock when Bishop conjured up a brilliant strike, collecting the ball on halfway he powered forward and despite the close attention of two defenders managed a clever step over creating space to unleash an exquisite 30 yard dipping drive leaving keeper Jake Jessup flat footed as the ball nestled in the bottom corner.

HT 1-0

Blues made the best possible start to the half when they doubled their advantage via the penalty spot. A serpentine run from Carlos tempted fullback Mills into a reckless challenge bringing him crashing the floor, up stepped Ade Cole and with nerves of steel sent Jessup the wrong way with the gentlest of strikes..

With their tails up Blues enjoyed a period of sustained pressure, the two goal cushion allowed them to play with freedom stroking the ball around the park leaving Sudbury chasing shadows.They should have increased their advantage further when a clever nod forward by Slabber left Bishop with a one on one with the keeper but he elected to chip the ball over the advancing Jessup rather than take the ball round him allowing the keeper to make the save. Sub Bradley Sach glanced a header just wide from a Barry Cogan cross as Blues continued to press for a third goal , Sudbury who had looked so assured in the first period looked ragged under fire and for a time found it difficult to gain a foothold at this stage.

Blues were still asking all the questions but then tended to overhit passes much to the relief of the visitors rearguard and with just less than thirty minutes remaining Sudbury managed to claw their way back into the game. A ball to the edge of the Blues area saw Thompson drawn into a reckless challenge , Billy Holland made no mistake from the resultant free kick slamming the ball into the top corner.

In past matches Blues have tended to drop deep after conceding but this time they kept their shape and continued to forage for an opening,Halle once again rose highest from a corner and his header this time was on target but Jessup was equal to it turning the ball over in style.Sudbury then had opportunities of their own, a low cross was claimed by Johnson and then sub Max Booth blasted wildly over when well placed.

Blues wrapped up the points in the 90th minute when once again the pace of Bishop proved fruitful , neat build up saw Sach slide the ball through and although looking suspiciously offside the striker made no mistake steering the ball across Jessup and into the far corner to record his second of the game and sixteenth goal of what is proving a productive campaign.

The win was well deserved and a much needed boost to Blues confidence after the setback in midweek, Sudbury played their part in an enjoyable afternoon and mention must be made of referee Craig Kissi who officiated with calmness and efficiency adding to the enjoyment for fans.

Next up Blues travel to meet Haringey Borough which will be another test of their resolve , Blues were disappointed to have only drawn with the unbeaten North Londoners after squandering a lead and will be looking to make amends .

Johnson, Folkes, Bruce , Halle, Thompson, Cogan (Poole 75) Muguo, Cole ,Carlos, Slabber(Sach 55), Bishop,

Subs not used ,Simmonds ,Mahal,Fowler,

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Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

League round up

Other North Division results

AFC Hornchurch
Brentwood Town
Bowers & Pitsea
Haringey Borough
Bury Town
Dereham Town


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League table

# Team Pl Pts
14. Aveley 46 57
15. Hertford Town 46 57
16. Grays Athletic 46 56
17. Tilbury 46 56
18. Waltham Abbey 46 49
19. Cheshunt 46 49
20. Ware 46 48

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