GAFC 0 - 5 Maidstone United
By Andrew Packer
Inept Grays out of The FA Cup after being thumped 5-0 at home to Maidstone United on Saturday.
Both teams started slowly in this game as Grays failed to make any inroads towards the Maidstone half early on as the away side looked organised and asserted their dominance over the Grays midfield.
The only chances in the first twenty minutes came firstly in the 5th minute as a long throw by Maidstone was headed over the bar by Nicky Humphrey and two minutes later as a cross by Joao Carlos found the head of James Bunn but his header went harmlessly wide.
It took until the 22nd minute for the first attempt on target which came from the away team as a snap shot from the edge of the area was heading for the roof of the net until George Kamurasi in the Grays goal tipped the shot over the bar.
Kamurasi was again called into action in the 36th minute as he got down low to push another goal bound effort wide for a corner. The resulting corner was played deep to the back post but a free header was put wide.
A minute later Grays registered their first shot on goal as a speculative volley from the edge of the area by Lee Flynn was comfortably pushed away by Deren Ibrahim in the Maidstone goal.
Grays managed a succession of corners three minutes before halftime but never looked threatening and the ball was eventually cleared.
The halftime whistle went with Grays lucky to go in level at the break after the away side had the best of the chances. It was quite evident that Maidstone knew exactly how Grays were going to set up and the system they would play, clearly former Grays player, Steve Ward had done his homework well from Tuesday evening.
The home sides halftime team talk did not appear to have much effect as Grays once again struggled in possession and Maidstone controlled the midfield, allowing Jake Hall and Leon Lalite no time on the ball which effectively took Joe Sweeney and James Bunn out of the game.
Grays made their first substitution in the 57th minute replacing the ineffectual Luke Marshall with Danny Bunce.
On the hour mark, Joao Carlos found a rare moment of space on the left hand side of the Maidstone area and his shot flashed narrowly past the far post.
Maidstone replaced Kaiyne Woolery with Sam Bewick in the 63rd minute.
In the 65th minute, Danny Bunce picked the ball up on the right wing and cut inside to shoot left footed, but his shot was deflected over the bar for a corner, which came to nothing.
The decisive moment in the game came after 68 minutes as the away side took the lead. A Maidstone player got the left byline before cutting the ball back to the edge of the area where Paul Booth was left unmarked to control and fire into the top right corner of the net, leaving Kamurasi no chance in the Grays goal.
Grays responded to going behind by replacing James Bunn for Kenny Beaney and changing formation to 4-5-1 from 4-4-2, much to the confusion of the home fans.
Maidstone doubled their lead in the 76th minute as Kenny Beaney lost possession on the edge of his own area and ben Davisson had time to pick his spot and bend the ball expertly into the top right hand corner of the net.
As the Maidstone players ran off to congratulate each other, it was evident how the heads of every Grays player dropped and they lost all fight and belief they could get anything out of the game.
This was made certain just two minutes later as Maidstone broke down the right hand side and a square ball found Davisson again unmarked in the area, who coolly slotted past the advancing Kamurasi to make in 3-0 to the visitors.
Grays replaced Jake Hall with Jack West for the last 10 minutes, reverting back to 4-4-2, but it was too little too late.
As the game entered injury time, further confusion in the Grays defence saw Maidstone register their fourth goal of the second half as a long ball over the top of the Grays defence found Sam Bewick, as Lee Flynn ran away from the ball, and the lacklustre Grant Cooper could not get across in time to stop Bewick run through on goal and fire into the roof of the net.
Just as Grays fans thought the day could not get any worse, Alex Flisher ran down the left wing, leaving Craig Pope trailing behind, before cutting into the area and smashing the ball past Kamurasi for Maidstone’s fifth to complete the rout which was fully deserved.
Grays now have to dust themselves off and get ready for Tuesday night as they take on Soham Town Rangers at Rush Green in the league.
Grays Athletic: George Kamurasi, Craig Pope, Grant Cooper, Junior Baker, Lee Flynn, Luke Marshall (Danny Bunce 57), Leon Lalite, Jake Hall (Jack West 80), Joe Sweeney, James Bunn (Kenny Beaney 69)
Subs Not Used: Ryan Kirby, David East, Jamie Richards, Dan Fry