Ware 1,

Grays 5

NON-LEAGUE: JACK West hit a hat-trick on his return to the Grays Athletic starting 11 as Blues thumped Ware.

The ruthless display from Hakan Heyrettin’s side saw them win their third game on the trot and extend their unbeaten run to six games.

And Blues’ fantastic February was almost topped off as title rivals Maldon looked set to suffer a home defeat to Chatham. But a heroic three-goal salvo in the last five minutes meant Terry Spillane’s side stayed 13 points clear, with Grays having played three less.

West gave Blues the lead after 21 minutes, heading home Junior Baker’s cross. On the cusp of half-time, Jeff Hammond turned in Lee Flynn’s cross to score his seventh goal in four games.

In the second half, Daniel Bunce scored his tenth goal of the season, converting from the spot to make it 3-0. Ware’s Dave Bastian was booked for the foul on West leading to the penalty and three minutes later he was shown a second yellow and dismissed.

Blues hopes of building on their superb run of six clean sheets was ended by a Dave Corran strike that took a big deflection before flying past Lamar Johnson.

But two blows in quick succession, both delivered by West, meant Grays’ Hertfordshire trip ended in emphatic victory. In the 64th minute, West got on the end of Hammond’s near post cross, before Jared Small rose to knock the ball across goal, where West was on hand to complete his hat-trick.

On Tuesday night (before this edition of the Thurrock Gazette went to press) Blues faced Brentwood. But having picked up 10 points in four games and bagging a place in the Essex Senior Cup final, Heyrettin will be firm favourite for the manager of the month accolade.