Grays hammered 4-1 at home by Cheshunt on Saturday
Grays suffered their first home league defeat of the season on Saturday as they were comfortably beaten 4-1 by Cheshunt
Grays got off to the worst possible start as they conceded after 4 minutes as a long ball over the Grays defence was not dealt with by Ryan Kirby and Courtney White stole in to fire towards goal from the edge of the area. George Kamurasi was in position to make a comfortable save, but the ball burst through his hands and flew into the top corner of the net.
Grays looked to bounce back quickly and had numerous chances to equalise.
In the 9th minute the ball broke to Harry Agombar in the box and his snap shot was parried by Obey Murefu in the Cheshunt goal. The rebound fell to Joao Carlos and his shot was also saved by Murefu. The ball broke to the edge of the area where Jared Small fired towards goal. The ball was heading for the corner and Dean Micheal prevented a goal by diverting the ball wide of the goal using his left arm.
Grays players and fans alike appealed for a penalty but the assistant was unmoved and the referee only signalled for a corner.
In the 17th minute Grays came close to an equaliser again as Joao Carlos found space in the area to fire towards goal but his shot was saved by Murefu. The rebound was collected by Jeff Hammond but his shot was blocked before the ball fell to Carlos again and his shot was deflected for a corner which came to nothing.
Cheshunt almost doubled their lead on the half hour mark as a cross from the right found Murat Karagul in the six yard box but his spinning shot went inches passed the right post.
If the failure to award a penalty earlier in the game frustrated the home fans, the next decision by referee Oliver Jackson infuriated them.
In the 38th minute a long ball over the top of the Cheshunt defence was being chased down by Jared Small as Obey Murefu came running out to the edge of his area to catch the ball high in the air. He was unable to stop his momentum however and he stepped fully two yards outside of his area with the ball still in his hands.
As the fans screamed from the side-lines for hand ball and the Grays players surrounding the referee, he somehow decided the keeper was still in his area and waved play on.
Grays again came close to levelling the score in the 41st minute as a free kick was cleared to the edge of the area where Jared Small fired towards goal but again the ball was cleared off the line for a corner.
The resulting corner was met by the head of Jake Hall but he headed over from close range.
Grays began to sense that no matter what they did today, they were not going to get anything out fo the game as the referee made his third game-defining decision of the first half.
In injury time a ball over the Cheshunt defence by Junior Baker was chased down Joao Carlos. Obey Murefu was off his line again to come out to the edge of the area to block the ball as Carlos fired towards goal. The rebound fell to Jared Small who was unmarked with the goal gaping, and with all the Cheshunt defenders still behind him, was dragged down by Murefu. The referee finally awarded a free kick to Grays and as fans and players alike waited the inevitable red card for being the last man was left amazed as the referee only saw fit to award a yellow card.
The free kick was blocked, the halftime whistle was blown and the Grays fans made their feelings felt as the officials left the pitch.
Grays had the first chance of the second half as Joao Carlos found space on the edge of the area to fire towards goal but the shot was comfortably saved.
Two goals in three minutes for Cheshunt effectively ended the game as a contest.
First, in the 55th minute, the referee awarded Cheshunt a penalty following a foul by Danny Bunce, although video evidence suggests the foul was outside the area.
Tony Burke stepped up and fired the ball down the middle of the goal to give Cheshunt a two goal lead.
Three minutes later Junior Baker was caught in possession on the edge of his own area by Corey Whitely. As George Kamurasi came out to close the angle, Whitely passed the ball forward to Courtney White who was clearly in an offside position, but neither the referee or assistant seemed to notice and the simple tap in to the empty net was allowed to stand.
A minute after the third goal, Cheshunt were reduced to ten men as Tommy Fletcher received a second yellow card. The first card, in the first half was for a hack at Jared Small as the ball broke to the edge of the area. The second card was shown as Jeff Hammond turned Fletcher on the edge of the area and was pulled back. The referee had little choice but to send the player off.
Grays made a double substitution around the hour mark as they replaced Harry Agombar and Jared Small with Luke Marshall and Joe Sweeney respectively.
The home side continued to create chances as Hammond headed wide from close range, Bunce fired narrowly wide from the corner of the area and baker headed over from a free kick.
Grays made their final substitution on 78 minutes, replacing Jake Hall with Jack West.
In the 80th minute, Grays did pull one goal back as Luke Marshall attacked down the right wing before cutting the ball back to Joe Sweeney on the edge of the area who fired first time into the far corner of the net.
Grays looked set to set up an unlikely exciting finish as they were awarded a penalty in the 89th minute. Joao Carlos was played through on goal and was fouled by Murefu, again the last man – this time not even a yellow card though – but Danny Bunce stepped up and saw his shot hit the base of the right hand post and bounce clear.
There was just enough time left for Cheshunt to grab their fourth goal of the game as David Greene picked up the ball in his own half before running through and past the whole Grays team before firing into the corner of the net.
It’s not every day a referee assessor apologies to you at halftime for not awarding a penalty for hand ball on the line and sending the player off, not awarding a free kick and booking a goalkeeper for hand ball outside the area and not sending off the goalkeeper when he commits a foul as the last man, but hopefully we will not be seeing Mr Jackson and his assistants for a while as they will not doubt be going back junior football for some more refereeing experience.
Grays Athletic: George Kamurasi, Craig Pope, Junior Baker, Ryan Kirby, Danny Bunce, Harry Agombar (Luke Marshall 62), Jake Hall (Jack West 78), Kenny Beaney, Joao Carlos, Jeff Hammond, Jared Small (Joe Sweeney 62)
Unused Subs: Lee Flynn, Leon Lalite