BOWERS INFLICT MORE MISERY ON BLUES
Another day another defeat for Blues writes The Mariner
Blues appear to be in free fall after league leaders Bowers & Pitsea claimed the points to increase their lead at the top of table, in stark contrast to Blues who suffered their fifth consecutive defeat. From being play off contenders in November they now find themselves rapidly moving in the wrong direction in the table. Since those heady days, the stats make painful reading - just one win in eleven games - five points garnered from a possible thirty-three and only one clean sheet since the middle of September. Tuesday evening was yet another hot and cold performance - the first period saw them weather an early onslaught from the league leaders, but having regrouped they clawed their way back into the game showing the energy and commitment we know they are capable of. Sadly the half time break had that familiar effect where they failed to maintain the momentum - yes the red card of Zak Henry didn't help matters, but even allowing for that Blues play became increasingly disjointed failing to trouble the Bowers rearguard. The frustrating thing is they have the players who have shown they can compete with the best on their day, but that day is now few and far between.
Clarke Bogard had to be at his best in the opening stages, when Bowers launched a fusillade of corners and free kicks into the Blues box, all dealt with quiet efficiency by the Blues custodian, showing a clean pair of hands and a punch reminiscent of Mike Tyson! Those opening minutes saw Blues on the back foot, but after weathering the storm they rallied, looking dangerous on the break. Good work by Mitch Hahn saw him deliver a cross to the far post finding the head of Joao Carlos who brought a stunning save from Andrew Wilton.
Bowers thought they had grabbed the lead when a quick break saw David Knight unleash a howitzer that stung Bogard's hands grabbing the ball at the second attempt.
The game was providing plenty of excitement for the fans, illustrated when Blues engineered an opening for Hahn, who flashed a low cross which only needed a touch to open the scoring. Bowers replied in the shape of the elusive Quentin Monville who arced a cross to Knight-nodding the ball into the hands of a plunging Bogard.
Correy Davidson a constant threat with his pace curled a tantalising cross which just eluded Hahn. At the other end a serpentine run from Monville opened up space, but his scuffed effort failed to trouble Bogard, leaving the scores level at the break
Blues made early inroads at the start of the second period when Hahn fired wide. But it was their defensive frailties that once again led to the hosts breaking the deadlock in the 56th minute. A Blues attack broke down, Bowers quickly countered - Ryan Mahal was caught out of position the ball was funnelled to Tom Stephen who cut the ball back from the byeline, Blues failed to deal with the threat allowing Lewis Manor to side foot the ball past Bogard.
One goal down, Blues very quickly went one man down when Henry received his marching orders for raising his hands to an opponent, rightly dismissed by the referee after consultation with his assistant , after an age and continued aggression Henry eventually trudged off .
It can often be the case when a team is reduced to ten men they cause problems and can enjoy more possession but not on this occasion - Blues lost their shape, the work rate dropped and their goal threat dissipated - certainly not helped by Carlos who looked likely to create something going forward, but he was moved to the left back berth, Michael Toner having been substituted earlier.
Bowers with the extra man took full advantage exploiting acres of space down Blues right flank - they came close to increasing their advantage when Knight fed Manor beating Bogard with a drive that sailed over.
Once again Bogard was working overtime to keep the deficit to one goal with a string of impressive saves and blocks whilst up front Blues huffed and puffed with little reward rarely testing Wilton in the home goal .
Bowers were dominant but failed to build on their one goal, Blues toiled without success, the final whistle bringing contrasting fortunes for the protagonists.
Bogard, Mahal, Muguo, Finneran, Toner(Gordon 56), Davidson, Pinto, Henry, Hahn, Carlos, Oli(Bishop 66)
Subs not used: Cogan Okonkwo, Thompson.
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