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GRAYS ATHLETIC 1st TEAM - Match centre

Grays Athletic
Romford
Mon 22 Apr 15:00 - The Bostik Football League - North Division Full time Attendance 323

CARLOS PENALTY GRABS A POINT

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A last gasp penalty ends run of defeats against Romford writes The Mariner

In the last home game of the season a late late penalty from Joao Carlos brought to an end Blues run of frustrating defeats against Romford, although with injury time running out it looked like the result would be yet another Boro win. Stung by a goal early in the first half, the game mirrored previous encounters where Blues laid siege to the Romford goal without creating a clear goal scoring chance. In front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd the teams served up an entertaining afternoon with plenty of incident - for Boro the draw ensured they retained their Ryman North status, for Blues it was an improvement on the defeat at Bury on Saturday.

An entertaining first fifteen minutes saw the teams knocking the ball around the park looking for an opening, the visitors maintained a high line catching Blues offside a number of times.

Boro looked lively going forward, getting behind the Blues back line with alarming ease and it led to the opening goal in the 22nd minute after Greg Akpele was victim of a clumsy challenge bringing a free kick. John Maskell's kick should have been cleared comfortably but indecision allowed Danny Cossington to touch the ball past debutant keeper Connor Pearce.

Aron Gordon thought he had levelled the scores after a weaving run brought a desperate save with his legs from custodian Harry Aldridge - quickly replying the swift footed Akpeta whipped in a low cross forcing Macualay Joynes to hack the ball away to prevent Boro from increasing their lead.

Blues continued to press for an equaliser - the corner and free kick tally mounting, but the delivery was found wanting - either over or under hit when the ball was delivered into the danger area Adalberto Pinto rose unchallenged to power a firm header inches wide. Blues wrestled the initiative enjoying plenty of possession, but the build up was ponderous , forcing them to play across the park and coupled with a reluctance to press the ball it allowed Romford to funnel back and defend in numbers reducing goal-scoring opportunities. The closest they came to a goal was a Carlos drive that flew inches wide.

Maskell, who featured in the opening goal was fortunate to escape a red card when Carlos broke free, closed in on goal and was unceremoniously hacked down by the burly defender - the referee brandished a yellow although on another day a red would have been the appropriate punishment.

HT 0-1


Blues emerged from the dressing room early for the start of the second half - clearly it appeared they had received a dressing down from Jim Cooper for their lacklustre enterprises before the break, so it was no surprise when they looked far sharper from the whistle. An early chance fell to Michael Toner, who ran forward powering a shot which although straight at Aldridge the keeper failed to hold on to the ball grabbing at the second attempt. At the other end, Romford so nearly increased their advantage when Jimmy Cox broke free lifting the ball over Pearce and just over the bar.

Dominating possession Blues continued to press, but once again after the initial increase in tempo the ball was not moved quickly enough to worry a well marshalled Boro defensive set up - it required someone to drive forward and commit defenders, but too many times the ball was played back and across retaining possession, but not incisive enough to create goal scoring opportunities. A strike on goal from Aron Gordon brought a smart save from Aldridge was all Blues produced despite the constant pressure.

Boro looked content to sit back and defend their lead breaking quickly when the opportunity presented itself and getting numbers behind the ball to keep their goal intact. Cooper had seen enough, making a double substitution on the hour mark - Ryan Mahal and Jacob Hutchinson replacing Jamie Hursit and Dennis Oli. The two subs were quickly in action, a great run and cut back from Mahal found Hutchinson who appeared caught in two minds when his effort lacked power or placement and was cleared from danger.

With time running out Blues forays became more frantic - Carlos was denied by Aldridge and then nodded over - another rampaging run saw him slide the ball across the box where Davidson just failed to make contact. Wave after wave of attack failed to test Aldridge - Romford defended valiantly and could have added a second when a rapid break split the home defence, leaving Joseph Chidyausiku with a clear sight of goal he thundered a shot cannoning off the upright - Cox went close again with another lob.

It looked increasingly likely that Romford would hold on for a vital win, but deep into injury time Davidson weaved his way into the box and went down under a clumsy challenge - Carlos with a cool nerve stepped up to power the spot kick past Aldridge - much to the relief of Blues fans, minutes later came the final whistle.

Next up Blues is a visit to relegated Mildenhall Town who will no doubt want to put in a performance for their fans, so Blues should guard against any complacency and secure the points that will ensure a top half finish to an eventful season.

Pearce, Hursit (Mahal 62 ),Joynes, Pinto, Toner, Muguo, Gordon, Davidson, Oli (Hutchinson 62), Livings ( Hahn 74), Carlos

Subs not used:
Bogard, Wokoma

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# Team Pl Pts
6. Bury Town 37 59
7. Tilbury 37 50
8. Grays Athletic 37 50
9. Felixstowe & Walton United 37 50
10. AFC Sudbury 37 49
11. Canvey Island 37 48
12. Barking 37 47

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