DEREHAM DEMOLISH BLUES
A horror show from Blues consigns them to a heavy defeat writes the Mariner
It's never boring watching Grays recently and Saturday was no exception, when they dished up two starkly contrasting halves punctuated by schoolboy errors gifting Dereham what was probably their easiest three points of the season. For periods of the first half Blues were by far the better side playing attractive passing football, creating openings but as has happened so many times this season, chances were not taken and basic errors were punished . Dereham had two first half chances and took them both with clinical finishing. The second half saw a comedy of errors inside the first four minutes which left Blues four down and the game seemingly beyond their reach.
One had to have sympathy for back up keeper Joe Simmonds starting in the absence of the injured Lamar Johnson , who was culpable for the first Dereham goal, but after that was left exposed by errors of those in front of him. Quite bizarrely he was substituted midway through the half, right back Ryan Mahal donning the keepers jersey!!!
Blues made a steady start taking the game to Dereham with Joao Carlos and James Folkes enjoying success down either flank, using their pace to good effect causing some consternation to their markers. An early opportunity fell to Kieran Bishop capitalising on a Tommy Wade cushion header volleying just wide. Good build up saw Ade Cole lay the ball into the path of Carlos, who should have done better, failing to hit the target firing into the side netting. Blues play was pleasing on the eye, consequently Dereham were coming under sustained pressure and rarely venturing forward. Bishop had another opportunity, when he broke clear of the visitors back line and with only Elliot Pride to beat the keeper blocked his effort.
On 14 minutes in a rare foray Dereham won a corner, Simmonds came for the ball but failed to hold it cleanly, allowing Rossi Jarvis to slam home the loose ball. Blues were only behind for a minute though, when another great run and cross by Folkes saw Bishop steal in and slide the ball home.
Dereham roused from their earlier slumber now looked a more incisive team, their pace going forward exposed Blues three man back line, Ryan Crisp and Jarvis looked particularly menacing up front. Mathew Castellan came close when he glanced a header just past the upright from a corner. At the other end Folkes was unlucky with a cross cum lob headed off the line.
Blues continued to look for an opening with the game evenly balanced, but in the 37th minute all that was to change. There seemed no danger when Stan Muguo picked up the ball on half way, but he dallied on the ball was dispossessed allowing Dereham to steal the ball leaving Crisp with a clear run on goal and he made no mistake to put the visitors in front.
Any hopes Blues had of levelling the scores were quickly dispelled in a disastrous start to the half. Dereham scoring twice in two minutes, courtesy of carelessness in midfield and basic errors at the back. In the 48th minute a loose pass by Barry Cogan on half way saw the ball quickly moved out to Rhys Logan, driving forward he outpaced Richard Halle, a low cross was pushed out by Simmonds into the path of Ashley Jarvis, who touched the ball home. A minute later and it was 4-1 with almost a carbon copy of the previous goal. A misplaced headed pass saw the ball played out again to Logan, who sidestepped Halle's mistimed challenge, a low cross evaded Simmonds allowing Karol Wengrzik to sweep the ball into the unguarded net.
A shellshocked Blues now had a mountain to climb, but the defensive errors continued. A Michael Finneran mis-kick presented an opportunity for Sam Borrer, who flashed a drive just wide. Blues huffed and puffed but were making little impact on the visitors back line and in the 58th minute Dereham were gifted a fifth goal. Blues won a free kick just outside the Dereham box, poor delivery was easily defended, a quick pass set Ashley Jarvis free in acres of space, Simmonds rushed from goal but failed to block the ball, allowing Jarvis to make it goal number five.
Following the goal Simmonds was inexplicably substituted, with Mahal donning the keepers jersey leaving players and fans alike stunned by the illogical substitution. The young keeper looked devastated, humiliated in front of the home fans no doubt his confidence shattered.
To their credit Blues continued to push forward but were now playing for pride, rather than any hope of salvaging anything from the game and in the 72nd minute five became six. A simple ball forward was flicked on to Logan, cutting the ball back from the byeline his cross was nodded home by an unmarked Jamie Foresaw.
With the game lost Blues still created opportunities but once again were not taken. Cole elected to toe poke rather than a full blooded drive. Bishop touched the ball into Pride's hands from a cross. Bishop again had an opportunity from a Folkes cross , volleying over from six yards. Mercifully the referees whistle brought to an end a nightmare afternoon for Blues, who were undone by their own inadequate defending and failure in front of goal.
It seemed that all Blues problems this season, namely basic errors and a failure to convert chances all combined in one afternoon to inflict their heaviest defeat of the season, with any lingering hopes of a say in the playoffs quickly extinguished. Let's hope this was a one off aberration and they can regroup for what could be a tricky encounter away to Cheshunt next Saturday.
Simmonds (Thompson 60), Mahal,Folkes, Cogan ,Halle,Finneran,Muguo(Poole 55),Cole, Bishop, Carlos(Bruce 66),Wade
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