NON-LEAGUE: WHEN asked where it had gone wrong for Grays Athletic in their 2-1 defeat to Maldon & Tiptree, boss Hakan Heyrettin replied: “Jake Hall”.
Blues came into the game at the Wallace Binder stadium on Saturday having won their last five games on the spin, but they were undone by an efficient Maldon & Tiptree side, who remain unbeaten in the league this season.
But the visitors weren’t helped when they were reduced to 10 men as they chased the game with the dismissal of club bad-boy Jake Hall. It was his third sending off this season.
A disappointed Heyrettin said: “I’ve stuck my neck on the line with Hall. “The committee have said ‘are you sure’ and I’ve said I’m 100 per cent positive he’ll come good and that’s just not the case at the moment.”
Maldon & Tiptree took the lead in the 35th minute, despite the visitors enjoying the better start, when Ollie Berquez slotted past George Kamurasi after Craig Pope was dispossessed deep in his own half by James Robinson.
Just moments before, Joe Wright had saved a Harry Agombar effort then watched a shot by the same player cannon off the cross bar.
Jamie Guy doubled the hosts lead ten minutes into the second half as Bryan led a quick counter attack. He found Guy and as the striker bore down on goal, he made no mistake in putting the ball home.
The goal was followed by the dismissal of Hall and Blues afternoon should have got even worse, as Kamurasi was lucky not to see red in the 77th minute after he scythed down Joe Gardner in the box. Ironically, Kamurasi dusted himself down to save Robinson’s spot kick.
Agombar scored a sensational 20-yard curler in the 85th minute to set-up a barnstorming finish. But sub Brian Moses somehow headed an Agombar free-kick over in the dying moments.
In the end, the hosts might have won by more than one goal, but they hung on to take all three points.
Heyrettin added: “We were by far the better side, but we didn’t take chances.
“We’ll bounce-back and they’ve (Maldon & Tiptree) now opened up a bit of a gap, but they weren’t the better side and they know that.
“We had the ascendency, even with ten men, to win the game. We’ve now got to look at what we’ve got to do and how we’re going to do it now.
“The first goal was a mistake by Craig Pope, but I’d lay my house on him, when does he ever make mistakes? “The second goal is a breakaway goal then Hall gets sent off and that was the defining moment. Going down to ten men against top of the league always makes it tough.”