Jack West hat-trick secures 5-1 win at Ware
A hat-trick from Jack West plus goals from Jeff Hammond and Danny Bunce earned Grays a convincing 5-1 win at Ware.
Grays struggled for the first twenty minutes of the game as they looked to force the play and put Ware on the back foot. A couple of misplaced passes almost got the away side in trouble and Lamar Johnson had to be alert in the Grays goal to keep the home side out.
Once the first goal came, Grays visibly relaxed and another fine performance looked on the cards.
That first goal came in the 21st minute as a cross from the left side cleared everyone in the penalty area. Junior Baker chased the loose ball down and delivered a fine cross into the six yard box where Jack West rose highest to nod into the net.
Ware did come close to an equaliser in the 37th minute as a free kick from the left was swung into the area and Tony Martin headed towards goal but the ball went narrowly over the bar.
Grays doubled their a minute before half time with Lee Flynn’s free kick from the right touchline finding an unmarked Jeff Hammond in the middle of the area for a simple header into the corner.
The home side started the second half well trying to get back in the game, forcing early corners, one of which was tipped over the bar by Lamer Johnson following a header from Tony Martin.
A three minute spell partway through the second half ended the game as a contest as first Jack West found space in the Ware penalty area but was brought down by Dave Bastian as he was about to tap into the net. Bastian received a yellow card and Danny Bunce duly stepped up and fired the resulting penalty into the corner to extend Grays lead.
Two minutes after the penalty, Dave Bastian received his marching orders as his mistimed tackle on Kenny Beaney brought a second yellow card.
Ware did become the first team to breach the Grays defence in seven games on the hour mark as Dave Corran fired towards goal from the corner of the area, before the ball took a massive deflection off Jack West and looped high over Lamar Johnson and landed in the far corner of the net.
In previous years this was have resulted in a nervous final half hour with Grays trying to hand on to a lead, but this year they responded in ruthless fashion, scoring two goals in as many minutes.
Firstly, in the 64th minute, Jeff Hammond found space on the left wing to fire a cross into the near post where Jack West headed towards goal and despite Jake Knight getting a hand on the ball; he could not stop the ball crossing the line for West’s second headed goal of the game.
Second, in the 66th minute, a deep cross from the left was nodded back across goal by Jared Small at the back post and Jack West reacted quickest to tap home in front of a defender to complete a well-deserved hat-trick, his first for the club.
Grays almost got a sixth in the 69th minute as Leon Lalite made a rare run forward, beating the offside trap. His lob from thirty yards was over the stranded Jake Knight but also went narrowly over the bar; his wait for a first Grays goal continuing.
With the game won, Grays made three changes, bringing off Jeff Hammond, Jared Small and Danny Bunce in the closing stages with Luke Marshall, Joe Sweeney and Daniel Subuola coming on.
Grays Athletic: Lamar Johnson, Craig Pope, Junior Baker, Ryan Kirby, Lee Flynn, Danny Bunce (Daniel Subuola 80), Kenny Beaney, Leon Lalite, Jared Small (Joe Sweeney 76), Jeff Hammond (Luke Marshall 71), Jack West
Unused Subs: Dave East, Joao Carlos