Early goals prove decisive
Two Tobias Little goals inside the first quarter of an hour gave the Blues a ‘mountain to climb’ that, but for a missed penalty, that they might possibly have achieved.
The game was less than four minutes old when the Blues conceded a free kick on the edge of their box and Tobias Little stepped up to wrong-foot Lamar Johnson and drive the ball into the back of the net.
The tempo of the game lifted immediately with both sides getting the ball forward quickly, giving rise to end-to-end action of a fast and furious nature. The Blues were proving a match for their title-chasing opponents but they were rocked back on their heels when they conceded a second goal in the 15th minute.
An attack up the right saw the ball pulled back to the left-hand edge of the box where Little strummed the ball home via a cruel deflection off Ollie Sharman.
The Blues needed a positive response and they nearly got it when, in the 23rd minute, Charlie Ruff struck a post from a free-kick, with the keeper well beaten. And then, only moments later, Matt Thomson drove the ball across the face of the goal with Elliott Bailey only just failing to get a touch. After that, shortly before break, the Blues had a confident claim for a penalty turned down when the ball appeared to hit a hand in the box and so the score remained at 2-0 when the half-time whistle was blown.
Seven minutes into the second half a second penalty shout was this time seen in the positive and the Blues were given the chance to get back into the game. David Keenleyside took responsibility for the kick but was dismayed to see his firmly-struck effort well-saved by Hayes custodian, Jack Smith.
Having escaped this threat, the visitors tightened up and, with the exception of a good effort from George Lutaaya that went over the bar, the Blues were denied any further good chances.
And then, to ‘rub salt in the wound’ the visitors added a third through Lee Barney to give the score-line a slightly flattering appearance and leave the Blues reflecting on their recent run of ill-fortune.
Team: Lamar Johnson, Matt Thomson, Macauley Joynes, Jordan Lawal, Ben Crilley, Ollie Sharman, David Keenleyside, Ahmed Mohammed, Elliot Bailey, Charlie Ruff (Ruben Soares-Junior 57’) and George Lutaaya.
Subs not used: Lewis Thomas, Brian Simpson, Alvin Kyeremeh and Daryl Mitchell.