Stewart leveller earns Planters a point
Referee awards three penalties as Planters comeback twice.
Norwich United 2 Grays Athletic 2
Bostik League North Division
The Planters included new signing Harry Barker
in their line up with Andy Eastaugh dropping to the bench with an injury and there was a recall for Tim Henery after his impressive cameo against Dereham at the expense of Nathan Stewart.
The visitors started strongly and certainly seemed keen to voice their opinion on every challenge legal or not. After just six minutes a cross from the right saw Joao Carlos head down allowing Andy Wilton to push the ball wide for a corner and shortly after Dennis Oli shot wide from the edge of the area.
The Planters were beginning to get into the game a little but the final ball was often lacking while at the other end Oli fired straight at Wilton.
For all Grays pressure they didn’t create many clear cut chances and the Planters could have taken advantage when Liam Jackson
’s ball to the far post was just out of reach of Henery.
Grays did take the lead in the 34th minute, Kieran Bishop raced onto a through ball, and may have been offside, but as he ran into the area Kierron Rose caught him and referee Paul Quick pointed to the spot. Bishop picked himself up to roll the spot kick home.
Shaun Wones won a header to set up Henery but on his wrong foot he blasted over in a crowded area from 15 yards.
Carlos delivered a good cross into the box from the left but Tommy Wade headed wide under pressure and Adeyinka Cole fired a shot from distance over the bar.
A long ball from the right saw Lamar Johnson claiming the ball off the head of Shaun Wones.
A deep cross from the left found Bishop beyond the far post, he cut the ball back for Cole who shot inches wide of the far post.
A quick break from the Planters saw Henery release Jackson with a delightful through ball which allowed Jackson to get away from Richard Halle, he took the ball into the area but with Johnson coming out to narrow the angle he fired into the side netting.
Referee Quick awarded the Planters a 56th minute penalty when Halle handled a right wing cross in the box, but Jackson was denied by a good save low down by Johnson.
The Planters had another chance from the spot eight minutes later when Nathan Stewart jinked into the area and managed to squeeze the ball through to Ben Jones
who was brought down by Johnson in a vain attempt to get the ball. This time Hipperson stepped up to hit the target with Johnson rooted to the spot.
Grays hit back almost immediately, Halle heading wide from a cross from the left, and then moments later they were ahead once more Muguo playing a lovely ball into Carlos and with Sam Applegate
slipping, the left winger had a run on goal and lifted the ball over the advancing Wilton.
Three minutes later and the Planters were level again, Hipperson’s corner from the right was headed on by Sam Watts
to Nathan Stewart beyond the far post, he controlled it with his first touch and with his second he hit a lovely volley across Johnson and inside the far post.
Grays put a lot of pressure on the Planters defence in the search for a winner but they stood firm and the visitors failed to create a clear cut chance, Rose blocking their best chance when the ball fell to substitute Barry Cogan wide of the right post.
A result that could have gone either way, the point opening up the gap on bottom placed Romford to five points.
Norwich United: Wilton, Applegate, Rose, Wones, Barker, Watts, Jones, Pollock (Mackie 46), Jackson (Carroll 87), Henery (Stewart 53), Hipperson. Unused sbus: Hitch, Eastaugh.
Grays Athletic: Johnson, Mahal, Folkes, Finneran, Muguo, Halle, Oli (Cogan 60), Cole, Bishop, Carlos, Wade. Unused subs: Stuart, Simmonds, Thompson, Gogo-Ibiama.
Referee: Paul Quick. Assistants: Bartosz Potrowski & Mark Ames.