Grays crowned CHAMPIONS as they defeat Maldon & Tiptree 2-0 at Rush Green
The home side knew that three points at home against Maldon & Tiptree would seal the league title and pushed forward from the start trying to assert their dominance on the game early.
Grays forced several early corners although they could not capitalise on them and repeatedly pushed the away side back into their own half, resulting in two Maldon players being booked inside the first twenty five minutes as the pressure took its toll.
The home side took the lead in the 25th minute as a free kick from the left was swung toward the back post by Kris Newby. Junior Baker rose highest to head back across the face of goal where Craig Pope reacted quickest to find space and nod into the net from close range.
Maldon’s only chance of the first half came in the 44th minute as a free kick on the edge of the Grays area was curled towards the top corner by Jack Cawley but the ball struck to top of the bar and rebounded away for a goal kick.
Not satisfied with only being a goal to the good at half time, Grays came out for the second half and looked to continue pushing forward and find a second goal.
In the 47th minute a Lee Flynn free kick was punched to the edge of the area where Jack West fired low towards goal but his shot was blocked and cleared.
Grays came close to extending their lead in the 51st minute as a cross from the left found Kris Newby at the back post but this shot was narrowly passed the near post.
Jeff Hammond was replaced with Jared Small in the 75th minute having caused Maldon problems all afternoon.
The cushion of a second goal came for Grays with ten minutes remaining as Jared Small did well down the right wing before cutting inside and driving to the edge of the area. His searching cross was well placed and deflected off Jack Cawley before looping on Jason Willis in the Maldon goal to send the home fans into raptures.
The final ten minutes were low key on the pitch as Grays looked to see out the game and Maldon realising their title challenge was over.
This was further highlighted by Grays not allowing the away side a single clear cut effort on goal the whole of the second half.
As the final whistle went, players and fans alike celebrated a sixteenth successive league victory, a title win that ranks as high or better than the Conference South and the prospect of some fascinating derby matches next season, and some away fans!
Grays Athletic: Lamar Johnson, Craig Pope, Junior Baker, Ryan Kirby, Lee Flynn, Kris Newby, Leon Lalite, Kenny Beaney, Joao Carlos, Jack West, Jeff Hammond (Jared Small 75)