Canvey Island 3–1 Grays Athletic
(Allen 31’, Sykes 34’, Merrifield 90’: Campbell 29’)
From the Frost Financial Stadium
CANVEY Island secured their fourth consecutive win as they came from behind to beat local rivals Grays Athletic.
Goals from George Allen and George Sykes cancelled out Nathan Campbell’s opener for the visitors before Frankie Merrifield wrapped up the three points for the hosts with the last kick of the game.
With eight minutes on the clock, Grays captain Campbell sent a volley high and wide of the target after latching on to a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area.
Manny Oyeleke’s loan spell from Aldershot Town – which was due to come to an end following this game – came to a disappointing end as the central midfielder was replaced with only 24 minutes played after picking up a hamstring injury.
Campbell made up for his earlier miss just before the half hour mark as he put Grays ahead.
Kieran Bishop held up play well, before laying the ball off to Joao Carlos. The winger’s cross found Barney Williams and his knock down found Campbell, who hit home on the turn.
But a Ryan Blackman free kick found Allen unmarked at the far post just two minutes later to head home.
Sykes then turned the game on its head as he poked home from a dangerous Blackman corner.
With the first half coming to a close, the ball landed at Bishop’s feet after a poor attempted clearance from Billericay Town loanee Gabriel Adelowo. But goalscorer Allen made a superb block to deny the striker from six yards out.
Gulls captain Blackman suffered what looked to be a serious ankle injury after a tackle by Campbell 20 minutes into the second half. Blackman was stretchered off after a stoppage of four minutes.
Canvey went on the hunt for a third goal to give themselves a two-goal cushion. Merrifield headed over a Mitch Gilbey free kick when well placed.
Moments later, goalkeeper Conor Gough made a smart save to deny substitute Lheureux Menga.
A collision between Gough and Menga then resulted in a war of words between both benches, which led to Gulls manager Danny Heale and Grays boss Jamie Stuart being spoken to by referee Dean Skipper.
Grays goalkeeper Amadou Tangara then made a superb save to deny Marlon Agyakwa with just three minutes to play.
But Merrifield latched on to a Mitch Gilbey cutback to secure the win for Canvey.
Canvey Island: Conor Gough, Gabriel Adelowo, Ashley Dumas, Frankie Merryfield, George Allen, Steve Sheehan, Manny Oyeleke (Marlon Agyakwa 24’), Ryan Blackman (Omar Lawson 69’), George Sykes, Simon Thomas (Jay Curran 90’), Mitch Gilbey
Grays Athletic: Amadou Tangara, Ryan Mahal (Etienne Mukanya Kabobola 45’), Joe Payne, Nathan Campbell, Chidi Williams-Agunabor (Harry Watkins 87’), Jon Ashton, Barney Williams, Lartey Sarpong, Matthew Baxter (Lheureux Menga 62’), Kieran Bishop, Joao Carlos