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GRAYS ATHLETIC 1st TEAM - Match centre

Grays Athletic
Felixstowe & Walton United
Sat 2 Mar 15:00 - The Bostik Football League - North Division Full time Attendance 235



Contentious refereeing decision denies Blues writes The Mariner

Jim Cooper's first game in charge proved an entertaining and frustrating afternoon, when Blues were denied a clear cut penalty at one end - when Daniel Davies blocked the ball with an outstretched hand - and succumbed to another poor decision at the other end resulting in a penalty fortunately missed and the dismissal of Mitch Hahn for an unavoidable hand ball. Unfortunately the officiating failed to match the entertainment provided by both teams, with a four goal flurry inside the first half hour exciting the fans, although probably not their defensive coaching staff.

Clearly asked to play at a high tempo Blues took the game to the visitors in the opening minutes, Correy Davidson featured early on creating an opportunity for Mitch Hahn, Hahn returned the favour releasing Davidson but he disappointingly blasted over.

It was Hahn who was the architect of the opening goal in the ninth minute, with a sublime ball dissecting the Seasiders back line picked up by Joao Carlos, who made no mistake drawing Jack Spurling and slotting the ball past the keeper.

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The goal was reward for Blues early pressure, Felixstowe who had been pushed back, broke quickly forcing Clarke Bogard to beat away a Joe Francis drive.

Hahn was revelling in his free role typified by an effort from outside the box, which curled agonisingly wide of the angle between post and crossbar. Blues looked good value for their lead, but the visitors Darren Mills was causing some consternation with his off the ball running dragging the Blues back line out of position.

Felixstowe were handed a lifeline in the 22nd minute when Bogard needlessly barged into Miles Powell - the second such challenge in as many weeks - Jack Ainsley converted the spot kick. The visitors could have gone in front shortly after, when the ball was flashed across the Blues box but failed to find a red shirt.

The goal was the first of three in a seven minute burst. Aron Gordon edged Blues in front again conjuring up a unique goal. Picking the ball up in the box he wriggled free of a challenge took the ball to the byeline and netted from an acute angle. Blues lead was short-lived, just three minutes later the visitors were level when Rhys Henry latched on to a loose clearance and rifled the ball past Bogard.

Blues early hold on the game relaxed, resulting in a more even contest typified by chances for both sides. Mills came close when he rattled the upright, but it was Blues who really should have gone in front when a crisp and incisive move saw the ball delivered into the visitors box where Gordon with the goal gaping screwed his effort wide of the post.

HT 2-2

The second period failed to produce goals, but it certainly provided controversy by a referee who made two poor decisions which in Blues case could have altered the outcome of the afternoon and for Mitch Hahn a sense of injustice.

The Seasiders goal was coming under pressure early in the second period, a Mitch Hahn free kick tested Spurling doing well to do turn the ball behind. Pressing high up the park Blues pushed the visitors back - Hahn featured again drawing another fine save from Spurling. Davidson was a hairs breath short of increasing Blues advantage when a rapier cross from Carlos just evaded the onrushing Irishmen.

With pressure mounting on the visitors goal Blues were the victim of a poor refereeing decision, when they were denied a clear penalty. A slick passage of play saw Mitch Hahn slip the ball to sub Barry Cogan, he struck the ball well only to see Daniel Davies raise a hand to block the ball - it was a clear penalty and on another day would have been given, but not today and despite Blues vociferous appeals the referee waved them away.

Felixstowe breathed a sigh of relief and could have gone in front when Liam Hillyard unmarked nodded wide - Hillyard then played the role of provider, when he outfoxed Stan Muguo to send a teasing ball across the area that failed to find a recipient.

With twenty minutes remaining Blues early exertions began to take its toll, allowing the Seasiders to enjoy a period of territorial domination. An injury to Geof Okonkwo had resulted in a reshuffle - Muguo relinquishing his defensive midfield role to slot into the back four, with their defensive shield gone Blues came under more pressure.

The lively Mills drew a smart save from Bogard - at the other end his counterpart Spurling made a hash of a clearance the ball finding Carlos, with the keeper off his line he tried a first time effort that curled agonisingly wide. The visitors replied missing a chance at the far post and then with seconds remaining they were awarded a controversial penalty when Hahn was adjudged to have handled a full blooded effort on the line. Although it seems he was doing everything to avoid contact with the ball the referee thought otherwise, awarding the kick and brandishing a red card to the unfortunate Hahn. Justice was done though when Ainsley struck the spot kick wide to leave the scores level at the final whistle.

So a draw signalled the start of Jim Coopers reign, he would have been satisfied with Blues efforts going forward but there still appear to be a question mark on Blues defending - something no doubt he will be working on in the coming week before the long trip to Dereham Town next Saturday.

Bogard, Hursit, Okonkwo(Cogan 59), Finneran, Toner, Davidson, Muguo, Hahn, Gordon(Pinto 63), Carlos, Oli(Bishop 70)

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League round up

Other North Division results

Coggeshall Town
Brentwood Town
Heybridge Swifts
Dereham Town
Mildenhall Town
Bowers & Pitsea


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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Bowers & Pitsea 38 92
2. Aveley 38 80
3. Maldon & Tiptree 38 79
4. Coggeshall Town 38 74
5. Heybridge Swifts 38 74
6. Bury Town 38 59
7. Grays Athletic 38 53

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