GAFC 2-1 Aylesbury
Grays progressed into the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy after a 2-1 home win against Aylesbury on Saturday.
Following a minutes silence in memory of Joe Sweeney’s granddad who sadly passed away during the week, Grays got off to the perfect start taking the lead after just 16 seconds.
From the kick off the ball was played out to Luke Marshall on the right wing who out jumped the Aylesbury defence to knock the ball on to Joe Sweeney, who ran on to the ball and volley first time into the far corner of the net.
The goal clearly meant a lot to Joe who pointed towards the sky in a clear message and dedication to his granddad.
For the next ten minutes, both teams tried to take control of the game, Grays by trying to play quick free flowing passes, and Aylesbury by being physical and breaking up the play.
In the 12th minute that physicality crossed the line as Joao Carlos received the ball 25 yards from goal before Aylesbury’s Lee Grace came flying in from behind and went through the back of Carlos.
A melee insured between both sets of players before the referee finally calmed the teams down and discussed what happened with his assistants.
Following the discussion, Lee Grace was shown a straight red card for the tackle and Lee Flynn and James Bunn were both shown yellow cards for their reaction to the tackle.
Before Grays could make the extra man count the game was level. In the 12th minute a long ball over the top of the Grays defence was chased down by Grant Cooper but his under hit back pass was picked up by Brain Haule who calmly slotted the ball past George Kamurasi in the Grays goal.
The game continued to be a scrappy affair with Davis Haule for Aylesbury and Joe Sweeney for Grays picking up yellow cards for persistent fouling and kicking the ball away respectively.
Grays retook the lead in the 26th minute following more good play by Joe Sweeney. A quick throw in was taken to Sweeney on the left wing, before he cut the ball back onto his right foot and swung a cross into the area. The ball wasn’t cleared and found Joao Carlos at the back post who fired first time into the corner of the goal to give Grays a 2-1 lead.
It was almost 3-1 four minutes later as a long ball was played over the Aylesbury defence for Carlos to run onto. As Richard Roberts advanced from the Aylesbury goal, Carlos lobbed the ball higher over his head. The ball looked goal bound but hit the upright before being cleared.
This proved to be the final chance of the half which saw take a one goal lead into the break for the third cup game in a row.
Grays once again started the second half the better of the two teams and should have extended their lead in the 49th minute.
A deep cross by Carlos from the left hand side found Luke Marshall unmarked at the back post. He controlled the ball well and had the whole goal to aim at from just five yards out. His shot was well saved by Roberts from point blank range and the rebound fell to Leon Lalite 12 yards out but his shot went high over the bar.
Aylesbury’s first chance of the second half came on the hour mark as a diagonal ball over the Grays defence found Joe Thompson unmarked but his volley went harmlessly wide.
Grays made their first substitution on 67 minutes replacing Luke Marshall with Danny Bunce.
A minute later Grays were almost made to pay for failing to take their chances as Daniel Jones wriggled free of the Grays defence to leave himself one on one with Kamurasi. The shot was tame and was heading for the bottom corner until Junior Baker managed to get back and clear the ball from crossing the line.
This scare seemed to kick start Grays again as they created a succession of chances.
A corner by Bunce in the 72 minute was met by the head of Sweeney but his goal bound shot was well saved by Roberts in the Aylesbury goal.
A minute later a cross by Carlos from the left wing was met by the head of Bunce in the area but his header lacked direction and went narrowly wide.
In the 74th minute Craig Pope ventured forward and his fantastic turn and shot was well saved by Roberts again.
In the final fifteen minutes Grays made their final two substitutions, replacing Joe Sweeney and James Bunn with Jack West and Jamie Richards.
The final chance of the game fell to Jake Hall in on 90 minutes as the ball broke kindly for him on the edge of the area and his snap shot was heading into the corner before Roberts pushed the ball round the post for a corner.
The referee blew for full time shortly after and Grays progress to the next round for a home tie against Ashford Town (Middx) on Saturday 29th September.
Grays Athletic: George Kamurasi, Craig Pope, Grant Cooper, Junior Baker, Lee Flynn, Luke Marshall (Danny Bunce 67), Leon Lalite, Jake Hall, Joao Carlos, James Bunn (Jamie Richards 88), Joe Sweeney (Jack West 76)
Unused Subs: David East, Tyrone Scarlett