GAFC 0 - 1 Maldon & Tiptree
Blues were beaten by a single goal, scored by Jack Stevenson midway through the first half at Rookery Hill.
The wheels have certainly come off the Grays Athletic bus as they drop more points with a desperately disappointing defeat at home to struggling Maldon and Tiptree.
Grays started really brightly and looked like a transformed team compared to recent performances.
In the 2nd minute, Danny Bunce hit the underside of the bar.
In the 13th minute, Antony Ryan and Joe Sweeney combined well to put Sweeney through but keeper Scott Steven did well to smother his shot from close quarters.
But once again a trend began to kick in: great flowing passing in the middle of the park that ended up in an unforced error and surrendering possession.
At the back, any jitters were being allayed by Junior Baker but they were not helped by Lee Flynn who in this game and others is caught dwelling time and time again.
But it all counted for nothing in the 27th minute as a simple ball straight down the middle went into the path of Jack Stevenson who slipped the ball past Tony Tucker with ease.
Grays continued to try and play touch football, which frankly looks part of the problem and boss Hakan continued to shout at some players and noticeably not at others.
A Danny Bunce piledriver went close in the 33rd minute.
The second half continued in the same vein with great build up play that added to nothing. Wayward shots by Bunce, Beaney and Flynn peppered the goal but you could hardly say that the keeper was over worked.
Paul Olima came on and put himself about but had no sense of direction.
Grays had a great chance in the 75th minute with a free kick just outside the area but Lee Flynn’s kick went into the wall.Another one a minute later did the same.
Grays camped in the Maldon penalty area but it was a turgid as trench warfare.
With Jared Small and Louis Dennis coming on, Grays had four strikers on. Louis Dennis hit the bar in the 85th minute but it was to no avail.
Maldon had worked hard and Grays had flattered to deceive.
YT sees it this way.
The defence is only solid with Bradley Thomas at the back. The midfield, now bereft of David Cowley lacks balance. Nobody seemed to rate Cowley. That was patent from the start and the players were allowed to shout at him while not addressing their own deficiencies.
But the heart of the problem is the strike force. The root, as we have shown before, is that, whether you have one partnership up front or twelve, they need to be firing and the Grays Athletic strikers are not scoring enough goals. So it feels as if Grays are playing with nine men.
Ironically, now that Hakan has plumped for Joe Sweeney, he has gone off the boil.
Hakan will be under pressure. Teams tend to play in their managers image and this team are flattering to deceive. This season looks like Hakan’s last full season at Thurrock where they reached second place in the Conf South but then slid back to finish outside the play-offs.
People need to stop using the excuse that teams come to play Grays like it is their cup final. That is simply delusional and does not help the debate.
But and it is a big but, they are still in the play off places and can gain promotion. Like a marathon runner going through a very bad patch you just have to cling on to the back of the pack and keep going.
If we are clutching at straws then spring isn’t that far away and the pitches will improve and that, whether, you like it or not is a key part of Grays game.
Well you have to hope………
Report by Your Thurrock