GAFC 1 - 1 Chatham Town
By Chris Jones
Grays conceded a last minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at home to Chatham Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
The first chance of the game fell to Grays in the 5th minute as a corner was swung across and punched onto the head of Ryan Kirby by Chatham keeper Tim Roberts. The header couldn’t be directed and went narrowly over the bar.
The opening goal was not long in coming however as a fine move by Grays saw them take the lead in the 10th minute. With Ryan Kirby in possession at the back, his sweeping pass to the right hand side was collected by Luke Marshall who effortlessly skipped past his defender to attack into the box. Marshall’s square pass was perfectly into Joe Sweeney’s path and he fired in at the near post to give the home side the lead.
The goal sparked Chatham into life and they almost equalised in the 13th minute as a long ball up field wasn’t dealt with by the Grays defence and an overhead kick by Rodrigue Ndiane went over the bar.
Another chance came to Chatham in the 18th minute as Kenny Beaney was caught in possession in midfield and Lee Hales ran unchallenged to the edge of the area before firing wide.
Stand in goalkeeper George Kamurasi came out to the claim a high ball on 26 minutes and his momentum carried him outside the box. The referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the area but the shot was blocked and eventually cleared.
Grays almost doubled their lead on the half hour mark as a clearance by Joao Carlos was played deep up field. As the Chatham defenders and keeper showed indecision on who should deal with the ball, Joe Sweeney stole in the toe end the ball towards goal but his effort came bouncing back off the bar.
The home team looked threatening as the half time whistle approached as good build up play lead to a shot by Luke Marshall that went narrowly over and just before the half time whistle Lee Flynn’s shot from the edge of the area went inches past the right hand post.
The second half started very slowly with both trams struggling to dominate the midfield and create any clear cut opportunities.
The first real chance came to Grays in the 68th minute and should have wrapped up the game as more good play by the hard working Joe Sweeney allowed him to play Joao Carlos through on goal. His left foot shot was saved low by Roberts in the Chatham goal for a corner.
Ex Grays player Jean-Michel Sigere almost equalised in the 76th minute as he was played through on goal but his shot was straight at Kamurasi who saved well.
Grays had more chances to score and put the result beyond doubt in the 79th minute and first Carlos crossed to Beaney in the area but his shot was well saved by the keeper and the rebound came to Marshall but his header was blocked by a defender.
Grays replaced West and Carlos for Bunn and Bunce in the last ten minutes as tiredness looked to set in playing their second game in three days. Chatham looked more and more dangerous as the game wore on and in the 3rd minute of injury time the Grays defence was finally breached.
A long ball over the top of the defence was not dealt with and a cross from the right hand side was headed to the edge of the box where substitute Jack Pallen was on hand to fire across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Chatham almost snatched a winner immediately after as a Grays attack broke down and a swift counter attack let three attackers against two defenders. Fortunately a poor pass by Sigere went out for a throw in to end the danger and the match with both teams sharing the points after a hard fought game.
Grays travel to Sudbury on Saturday still joint top of the league with 7 points from 3 games.
Grays Athletic: - George Kamurasi, Craig Pope, Ryan Kirby, Junior Baker, Lee Flynn, Luke Marshall, Kenny Beaney, Leon Lalite, Joao Carlos (Danny Bunce 86), Jack West (James Bunn 75), Joe Sweeney.
Subs: - David East, Grant Cooper, Tyrone Scarlett.