Charlie makes a point
Sublime goal from Cole gives Blues a point
Bostik League North Division
Saturday 27th January 2018
Grays Athletic 1(1) Hertford Town 1(0)
A superb second-half strike from Charlie Cole earned the Blues a well-deserved point and extended their unbeaten league record in 2018 to four games.
It was a game, though, that could have gone either way because, although the Blues had the better opportunities in front of goal, it was the hosts who might have snatched victory when they struck a post in the last minute of normal time.
A goal down at half-time, having had the advantage of a very strong wind, the Blues were potentially facing a very challenging second period. As it turned out, however, the Blues made a much better fist of the conditions and put in a fine performance made up of good defending and attractive football. By contrast the hosts found that the wind did not suit their style of football; their balls forward frequently running out of play.
Despite the disadvantage of the wind, the Blues started very positively and had a great opportunity to take a 15th minute lead when Michael Toner failed to take advantage of slack marking at a Ricky Light free kick. He found himself free five yards from goal but was unable to make a decent contact with the ball.
With defences generally on top, chances were at a premium and Ricky Light’s 25-yarder that went narrowly wide of a post, was as close as either team came to opening the scoring until a defensive lapse – completely out of the blue – allowed Jamie Slabber to poke the ball into an empty net following a cross from left, to give Grays a surprise lead on the half-hour mark.
The Blues will have felt that they didn’t really deserve to fall a goal behind but matters might easily have got worse had Charlie Mann not pulled off a fine save seven minutes later, to deny the hosts a second.
An equaliser before the break would have been ideal to take into the second half and it almost came in the 42nd minute when Ricky Light found the run of Charlie Cole in the left-hand channel but the home keeper was quick off his line and blocked Charlie’s goal-bound effort with his legs.
Charlie didn’t have to wait long, though, to open his account and, making a similar run thirteen minutes into the second half, he got onto the end of a Michael Toner pass and fired the ball into the far top corner of the goal from the edge of the box.
By this stage the Blues were having much the better of the play and were coping well with any threats being posed by the hosts. Chances were still few and far between, though, but with nine minutes remaining a fine move down the right between Charlie Cole, debutant Eman Osei and Brett O’Connor set up Ricky Light but his shot, 15 yards from goal, was well saved by the home custodian.
A share of the points now seemed to be the likely outcome but a late spell of pressure from the home side saw them strike a post with a snap-shot from just inside the box. The ball cannoned to safety, though, and the Blues were left relieved to have avoided what would have been a very disappointing defeat.
Team:, Charlie Mann, Ollie Sharman, Jay Lovell, Phil Lowen(Matt Thomson 90+4’), Michael Toner, Dan Palmer, Ricky Light, Luke Illsley, Charlie Cole(Tommy Wade 84’), George Lutaaya(Emmanual Osei 60’), and Brett O’Connor.
Subs not used: Aaron Diveney and Charlie Ruff.
Match report by Ray Greenall