Thamesmead Town 1 - 5 Grays Athletic
The Blues came back to form in spectacular fashion with this five goal demolition of Thamesmead Town.
From the whistle, Grays took the game to the home side and almost took the lead in the second minute when a harmless back pass saw Sam Mott lose balance and mis-kick the ball, but Paul Olima couldn’t take advantage as Mott held the ball. The Blues kept up the pressure with Joao Carlos at his best as he forced two good saves from the home keeper and the impressive Nathan Gordon hit a shot wide.
A long clearance from Proberts found Alwayne Jones clear but Tony Tucker was aware of the danger to hold the ball. The Blues were on top for most of the half with their slick football but could not find the net as Mott redeemed himself with a series of fine saves, and Gordon’s sublime control, turn and shot deserved better than to see it run wide.
Carlos’ trickery on the wing and crosses were cleared by a well organised Thamesmead defence, but on the half hour he found Paul Olima clear in the middle for him to side step the challenge and slot the ball home to give Grays a deserved lead. Two minutes later Craig Pope found Gordon clear on the right to run in and hit a narrow shot under Mott to settle into the far corner of the net to double the lead.
Thamesmead kept their heads and had a period of control to take the game forward but Tucker was on top of his game as he held a shot from Donovan and closed down Jones to see his shot go harmlessly over the bar. A fine diving save saw him tip over another shot by Jones when by himself with only the keeper to beat. The half ended with the Blues the more comfortable with a satisfying two goal lead.
Athletic knew that they had to push home their advantage in the second half but Thamesmead came out a determined team and attacked from the start when Donovan ran clear only to be thwarted by a solid tackle from Pope. The ball came back in for Dawson which led to an error by Junior Baker as he tripped the striker to concede a penalty. Proberts stepped up to send Tucker the wrong way and give his side a way back into the game.
Grays lost their rhythm as the home side looked to level, and another break by Proberts saw his hurried shot drift wide. It took a moment of individual skill from Carlos to settle the Blues as he picked up a clearance from Grant Cooper to run at goal. He went past two defenders and shot at goal, only for Mott to block but Carlos slotted home the loose ball to restore the two goal lead and the belief back in the squad.
The game settled into a midfield tussle as the rain made it difficult to control the ball and both sides were reduced to long range shots but with fifteen minutes to go a floated cross into the home box saw Olima jump to send a looping header past Mott to score and put the game out of reach.
A triple sub brought Danny Bunce, Stanley Muguo, and Anthony Ryan on for Flynn, Agombar and Dennis as Grays pushed and a clever run by Ryan saw him clear of the defence and tap the ball under Mott to complete the rout. The final score was a just result of the pressure and it could have been a bigger score but for the heroics of the home keeper.
Grays Athletic: - Tony Tucker, Craig Pope, Junior Baker, Grant Cooper, Lee Flynn (Danny Bunce 75), Joao Carlos, Harry Agombar (Stanley Muguo 80), Kenny Beaney, Nathan Gordon, Louis Dennis (Anthony Ryan 75), Paul Olima.
Subs not used: - Bradley Thomas, James Bunn.
Report by Steve Allen