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Grays continue their league charge
11:00am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Sport
Grays 4, Potters Bar Town 1
NON LEAGUE: GRAYS Athletic overcame both the wet weather and their opponents as they continued their pursuit of league leaders Maldon & Tiptree, writes Chris Jones.
Build up to the match was overshadowed by the imminent arrival of East Thurrock United winger Kris Newby, whose personal problems had been well documented in this newspapeer and the national media last week. There were double page spreads in national newspapers and even an appearance on ITV’s Daybreak the day before the match. With his loan move from Rocks completed, Newby made his bow for Blues, coming off the bench for the last few minutes.
Heavy rain in the preceding days meant the match was in doubt, and with match referee Alex Neil showing considerable concern to the amount of standing water on the pitch, it was left to an army of supporters to help get the game on.
Blues went into the match in scintillating form. They had won their previous seven league matches and were unbeaten in a total of 12. With both sides trying to get used to difficult conditions, the first 20 minutes went by without either side creating a chance. That changed moments later as Gary Wharton broke into the left hand side of the area. His low shot was saved well by Lamar Johnson’s outstretched boot.
But Jared Small opened the scoring for Blues shortly before the half hour mark, finishing low from the right through a crowded area. Danny Bunce created the goal, cutting in off the left before playing the ball across goal to Small.
Beaney doubled the home side’s lead as he rose at the near post to head home Bunce’s corner into the top right corner of the net.
A freak goal from Lee Close ten minutes before half-time ensured a tense second half would follow. He delivered a free kick from the halfway line into the Blues’ area. Players from both sides managed to missed the ball and with the aid of a wicked bounce off the pitch, it looped over the head of Johnson into the net.
The second half started in the same vein as the first but with 20 minutes remaining, Bunce got his reward for an excellent performance. Played in by Jack West, he ran in on goal, turned his defender as he advanced into the area, and fired confidently past the keeper. Any hopes of a comeback from the visitors were extinguished ten minutes before time as Leon Lalite scored his first goal for the club, smashing home from 12 yards.
There was still time for the aforementioned Newby to get a few minutes on the pitch, as he replaced Bunce late in the game.
For all the borough's non League see the Thurrock Gazette every Friday.