MALDON MAUL BLUES
Another disappointing afternoon for Blues' fans writes The Mariner
Blues suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Maldon & Tiptree and in the process saw fans' favourite Joao Carlos dismissed for a high tackle. Despite the sending off, Blues still lacked the belief and spirit to salvage something from the game and by the end looked a pale shadow of the team who had made such a bright start in their two opening games.
The early minutes were a scrappy affair with numerous stoppages affecting the flow of play. Maldon had the first opportunity inside the first two minutes when a long ball found Mathew Briggs on the edge of the box but the ball didn't run kindly for him and his shot sailed harmlessly over.
Dennis Oli came close for Blues when he was just beaten by the toe of keeper Ben McNamara, Oli suffering an injury in the process. Aron Gordon was next to try his luck when he raced forward and - despite close attention from Seth Owens - managed to wriggle free, cutting inside, but his effort lacked power and was gathered at the second attempt by McNamara. Maldon replied when Ryan Mahal dwelled on the ball. It was delivered into the box where De-Carrey Sheriff tested Lloyd Anderson who saved well.
Blues were just shading possession when the game turned in the visitors' favour in the 22nd minute. Carlos picked up the ball and rode one high-footed challenge but the ball appeared to run away from him. He went into a fifty-fifty challenge with his foot raised and studs showing resulting in a red card. It looked harsh at the time but the official had no option under the current laws.
The dismissal forced Blues into a reshuffle with Oli withdrawn in favour of Callum Thompson. Maldon took advantage of the extra man and in the 29th minute went in front. It was Blues who were the architects. Anderson rolled the ball out to Perry Dunn in a dangerous area, De-Carrey Sheriff stole the ball and gave Anderson no chance, slamming the ball home. Nine minutes later it was 2-0 when a slick passage of play found Shane Cojocarel in space and he slotted past the exposed Anderson.
In a rare Blues' raid, Shomari Barnwell had a chance when he fired wide of the upright and then saw his header clear the crossbar.
The halftime break saw Blues come out with a more positive approach. The introduction of Jack Curtis for Stanley Muguo saw the ball moved around with more urgency and it looked like they might get back into the game. They pressed Maldon back but crucially didn't create a clear-cut chance and were punished in the 57th minute when Maldon scored their third.
Blues were pressing forward with Mahal prominent but the move broke down. Maldon quickly countered, playing a diagonal ball into the space vacated by Mahal. Anderson made a great block save, but the ball rebounded to Chris Millar who dispatched it into the empty net.
The goal clearly deflated Blues, who then lost their shape and purpose. Passes went astray and the work rate and heads dropped, allowing Maldon to play with freedom Gordon did cause a stir though, when he outpaced his marker and tested McNamara who saved comfortably.
Blues' play became more disjointed and they fell further behind in the 68th minute when a corner caused panic at the back. Geofrey Okonkwo made a hash of his clearance with the ball eventually finding De-Carrey Sheriff who slammed the ball home from close range. The goal saw Blues wilt and it was no surprise when Maldon scored their fifth in the 78th minute. Jack Cawley found himself in space - unmarked - and with no defender to challenge floated the ball past Anderson.
With the game lost, it was left to Curtis to try and retrieve some dignity with a goal but he saw his fierce effort sail over. The remaining minutes were painful to watch for Blues' fans seeing their dispirited team huff and puff but lacking direction and purpose and the final whistle brought relief to players and fans alike.
Anderson, Mahal, Okonkwo, Dunn, Carlos, Muguo (Curtis 45), Hahn, Cole, Barnwell (Adeniji 63), Gordon, Oli (Thompson 23)
Subs not used Bogard, Cogan
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