Grays Come From Behind To Claim Points
By Kalvin Sargeant
AFC see bright start fade as visitors recover from a two goal deficit to take the win
A.F.C. Sudbury welcomed Grays Athletic to the King’s Marsh Stadium on the 130th anniversary of the Essex club. Sudbury came into the game on the back of a fine away win at Canvey Island followed by a thrilling 5-3 home win over Brentwood Town.
A slow start on a grey and cold late November afternoon in front of a good-sized crowd at the King’s Marsh. On six minutes Ryan Mahal’s deep cross was headed clear by Baris Altintop before a fine run by Phil Kelly saw his shot gathered securely by Clarke Bogard in the Grays goal. On ten minutes A.F.C. Sudbury gained the lead with a finely executed goal. Phil Coakley’s long ball out of defence was glanced on by Phil Kelly and Tom Monk raced forward to beat defender and goalkeeper alike before hitting home from a tight angle on the left. Three minutes on and Monk turned provider, setting up Reece Harris who sent his shot swerving wide from close quarters. Thomas Wade was booked for a foul on fourteen minutes before the quick Joao Carlos raced clear for Grays and sent a shot wide of Paul Walker’s right hand post.
It was a dream start for Sudbury after twenty three minutes with a second goal. Phil Kelly met a through ball and laid it square from the left for Ben Hunter to tuck the ball past Bogard. There were claims for a goal on twenty-seven minutes for Grays after a scramble in the home penalty area, but play was waved on. At the other end Reece Harris sent a superb ball from left wing across to the right where Phil Kelly struck a low shot just past the far post. A minute later and Carlos tested Paul Walker with a drive which the Sudbury ‘keeper clung onto with ease. Wade almost broke free, but a superb tackle from Joe Whight stopped him in his tracks. On thirty-two minutes Grays, rather marvellously playing in grey, pulled a goal pack when Michael Toner poked home a loose ball from a corner.
On forty-one minutes the nippy Carlos again surged along the left wing, placing a neat ball at the feet of Charlie Allen whose shot was well saved by Paul Walker diving to his left. Allen again almost broke through, but the ball rolled to Paul Walker who was quickly off his line to gather.
Grays started strongly with Mitchel Hahn firing well over the crossbar two minutes into the half. On fifty-two minutes Sudbury had a great chance when Tom Monk’s neat ball into Phil Kelly saw the Sudbury number nine in on goal. He hit the ball with the outside of a left boot, but Clarke Bogard leapt to his right to produce a fine blocking save. Two minutes on and Darryl Coakley struck a fierce shot from 30 yards which cannoned off the post with Ben Hunter just unable to apply the finishing touch. Just after the hour Grays bagged the equalising goal when a shot from distance was touched home by Thomas Wade standing on the goal-line.
On sixty-eight minutes Grays Athletic grabbed the lead when Mitchel Hahn hit a fine shot into the corner of the net from the right hand edge of the penalty area. The visitors were making life hard for Sudbury as the game reached its concluding minutes. Kieran Bishop managed to turn and shoot for the visitors, only to see his effort crash back off the home crossbar. Sudbury continued to work really hard, both at the back and in more advanced areas. Substitute Mekhi McKenzie did well to wrestle the ball on half way before crossing for Phil Kelly whose shot was straight at Bogard in the last of the real opportunities the home side were able to create.
Despite some brilliant approach work and a very hard and competent shift at the back, Sudbury came away from this match empty-handed having deserved at least a point for their hard work and endeavour.