BLUES SURRENDER LEAD
Aveley come from behind to win local derby writes The Mariner
After Blues edged possession in the first half and went in front shortly after the restart, the Millers hit back with two goals in two minutes and then sealed the points with a 90th minute winner. Perhaps, had striker Shomari Barnwell been available, it would have given Blues more bite up front, but ultimately football is about goals and taking your chances when you are on top, which Blues failed to do.
Blues made a bright start winning two early corners and it was Dennis Oli who came close to opening the scoring when he glanced Mitchel Hahn's corner just over. Almost immediately Aveley created their own chance, when a route one move saw Tom Richardson break clear and force Lloyd Anderson into a fingertip save. The same tactic saw Richardson clip the bar with a fierce shot that had Anderson looking anxiously on.
After these early scares Blues regrouped and began to play with measured build ups. An astute pass found Usman Adeniji in space on the edge of the box, but he failed to generate power and direction in his shot and the ball drifted harmlessly wide. Another Blues' corner fell to Michael Finneran, who delicately lifted the ball into the box, where Oli reacted quickly and clipped the ball just past the upright.
The Aveley back line was coming under pressure, with Aron Gordon and emergency left back Joao Carlos - playing his first 90 minutes of the season - seeing plenty of the ball, but time and again after creating space the final ball lacked quality, allowing the ball to be cleared comfortably.
Richardson was proving a threat for Aveley up front with his physical approach winning free kicks in dangerous areas. He tested Anderson again with a low drive, which the Blues 'keeper did well to hold, plunging to his right. Andrew Freeman was the next to test Anderson from a free kick on the edge of the box, but the keeper was equal to it, turning the ball behind.
As the clock ticked down neither side could make the breakthrough in a half that promised a lot, but failed to hit the intensity usually associated with a local derby.
Aveley forced an early corner, which came to nothing. Shortly after, the menacing Gordon suffered an injury and had to leave the field which somewhat blunted Blues' attacking options out wide. The opening goal came in the 53rd minute. A long ball down the channel was defended well by Blues. A searching ball forward found Adeniji on half way, he cleverly side stepped his marker and slid the ball into the onrushing Oli, who - without breaking stride - drew keeper David Hughes and slid the ball into the net.
A goal down, Aveley responded well, starting to play with more purpose. A free kick was nodded just over and then Freeman who was becoming more and more influential did well to wriggle free inside the box, seeing his effort drift inches wide of the upright. Blues were now seeing less of the ball, but they still foraged forward when they could, winning a number of corners, but the delivery again was poor and easily defended.
Millers increased the pressure and it seemed only a matter of time before they would register a goal after coming close on numerous occasions and in the 70th minute they drew level. Carlos slipped as he went to challenge for the ball, which was then crossed into the Blues' box causing panic. The ball was not cleared, and dropped invitingly to sub Firmin Nagundu who, with his first touch, curled the ball over Anderson into the top corner.
The goal had two effects. It galvanised the home side and clearly stunned Blues and just two minutes later Aveley were in front. Freeman capitalised on slack marking, touching the ball home from close range past Anderson.
Two goals in two minutes had turned the game on its head and it was now a test of Blues' character. Could they salvage something from the game? They did force more corners, but once again the delivery failed to threaten the home goal, apart from a deep cross to the far post which saw a remarkable leap and headed chance from Adeyinka Cole. The ball looked destined for the back of the net, dropping on the line and then being scrambled clear.
That was as good as it got for Blues. Aveley dominated the closing stages and made sure of the three points when Richardson hustled and bustled near the byline, flashing a low cross into the box, which saw another sub Alex Teniola steal in and prod past Anderson.
Anderson, Mahal, Okonkwo, Finneran, Carlos, Muguo, Hahn, Cole , Oli (Jones 78), Gordon (Mignot 49), Udeniji (Curtis 74)