GAFC 1 - 0 Takeley
Grays secured a place in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at home to Takeley on Saturday.
Following a half hour delay to the game due to traffic problems delaying players for both teams and in torrential weather conditions, Grays looked to dominate this game right from the start.
The home side almost took the lead in the 3rd minute as a testing cross from the right by Tyrone Scarlett was cleared for a corner. The corner was taken by Joao Carlos and flashed across the face of goal to the back posted where Ryan Kirby ran in for a free header but the ball went narrowly past the post.
Another corner from the right in the 5th minute again caused the Takeley defence problems as the ball was played into the six yard box, hitting two defenders before Ronald Yates in the Takeley goal fell on the ball just before it crossed the line.
On the 10 minute mark Grays began to create chances from open play as well as from set pieces as the ball was played into Jack West from the right hand side and his lay off into the path of Joe Sweeney was fired narrowly over the bar from 12 yards.
Grays took the lead in the 12th minute after another fine passing move as Joe Sweeney was played in on the left wing behind the Takeley defence. As Sweeney attacked into the area, his square pass was perfectly into the path of Jack West who fired left footed into the far right hand corner of the goal.
It took Takeley until the 21st minute to register their first attempt on goal as Rahemm Dixon picked the ball up in midfield before getting past two Grays players to create space on the edge of the penalty area for himself. His low shot was well saved by the diving Lamar Johnson in the Grays goal to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Grays almost doubled their lead in the 27th minute as Scarlett on the left wing crossed the ball into the Takeley area. Carlos, who had come inside from the left wing chested the ball down and fired right footed towards the far right hand corner but the ball went agonisingly past the post.
The final chance of the first half came in the last few seconds as Scarlett played in Sweeney on the edge of the area. His first time shot was heading into the top left hand corner of the goal only for Ronald Yates to stretch out his left hand and tip the ball over the bar.
The second half started much the same as the first with Grays dominating possession and waiting patiently for a chance to attack.
In the 52nd minute Grays once again looked dangerous from a corner. The initial ball into was headed out to the edge of the area where Carlos fired low but only into the side netting.
Grays again almost gave themselves the cushion of a two goal lead in the 54th minute as Jack West found space on the edge of the area and his vicious shot was goal bound only for Yates to once again make an excellent one handed diving save.
A minute later Grays replaced debutant Alex Cruickshank for Leon Lalite in central midfield.
Takeley’s first effort of the second half came in the 58th minute as a cross from the right was met by Graeme Turner in the area ahead of Lamar Johnson. The header went straight up in the air and with the goal gaping Greg Taylor rose between two defenders to head towards goal only for the ball to land on the roof of the net.
The away side once again had their keeper to thank in the 63rd minute as an excellent one touch passing move ended up with Scarlett in possession on the left wing. His cross was played into Carlos but the shot was again well saved by Yates in the Takeley goal and the rebound was fired narrowly wide by Kenny Beaney from the edge of the area.
Lee Flynn picked up his second yellow card of the season in the 67th minute with a mis-timed tackle on Graeme Turner.
In the 69th minute Jack West was replaced by James Bunn.
Takeley’s best chance of the game came in the 70th minute as Greg Taylor turned away from two Grays defenders on the right wing and played in Rakeem Dixon who was free on goal. Johnson came rushing out of goal to narrow the angle. The shot by Dixon was weak but on target and fortunately for Grays Joe Sweeney had tracked all the way back to his own goal to collect the ball before it could cross the line and clear.
Grays were not so fortunate as Johnson picked up a knee injury following a collision with Dixon as he came out of goal to try and prevent the shot. Johnson received treatment for seven minutes before being replaced by George Kamurasi.
Takeley made their first substitution in the 79th minute as Raheem Dixon, possibly suffering from the collision with Johnson, was replaced by Jordan Barra.
Grays seemed content to hold onto their one goal advantage and played keep ball along the back line much to the frustration of the home fans as Takeley were very slow to come out and close the ball down.
Takeley almost snatched an unlikely draw in the 86th minute as Greg Taylor collect the ball on the edge of the area and fired a low shot at the bottom left hand corner of the goal. It took a full length diving save by Kamurasi to tip the ball around the post for a corner. The corner was played deep to the back post where Alex Martin was left unmarked for a free headed. Kamurasi was once again on hand as he made himself big to smother the header from close range.
The final chance of the game fell to Grays in the 93rd minute as Carlos picked up the ball on the edge of the area and his low shot was pushed round the post by Yates for a corner.
After seven minutes of injury time, the full time whistle went to see Grays progress to the next round. Takeley have Ronald Yates to thank for keeping the score line at 1-0 after a string of fine saves.
Grays Athletic: - Lamar Johnson (George Kamurasi 77), Craig Pope, Ryan Kirby, Junior Baker, Lee Flynn, Tyrone Scarlett, Kenny Beaney, Alexander Cruickshank (Leon Lalite 55), Joao Carlos, Jack West (James Bunn 69) , Joe Sweeney.
Subs not used: - David East, Grant Cooper, Luke Marshall, Kevin Nossa-Torres.