GRAYS ATHLETIC 1, CANVEY ISLAND 4
A CLINICAL first half performance from Canvey Island ensured they came out of this Essex derby on top.
But the Seasiders were helped by some woeful Grays Athletic defending, particularly from set pieces and crosses.
And with a game every 2.6 days between now and the end of the season, Ryan Kirby will need to be quick in finding a remedy for the problems his side showed today.
Danny Bunce and Jon Docker were in the starting line up for Blues after their recent returns to the club and there were league debuts for centre back Yala Ruddock and keeper Lloyd Anderson.
The game started very well for Grays.
As the second minute became the third, Yala was on hand to steer home the ball from Bunce’s corner after Phil Anderson had flicked it on at the near post.
After frantic first 15 minutes, which saw Lloyd Anderson tip a dipping Harrison Chatting shot over the bar, the Seasiders’ have a goal ruled out for offside and Joel Nouble denied a penalty after being felled as he raced through on goal, the game calmed down a little.
But after 23 minutes, the visitors were level. Nick Humphrey climbed highest to divert a free kick from the right into the bottom corner of Blues’ goal.
That sparked a spell of Canvey dominance, with Grays struggling to get out of their own half.
In the 30th minute, Canvey made the pressure tell. Blues failed to clear away a ball in from the right and it fell kindly to Chatting, who lashed the ball low into the net from 12 yards.
Blues imposed themselves on the game a little more following that. They were awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute which the returning Bunce stepped up and missed. The placement and height of the shot made it easy for Gines Guzman.
Then, Canvey cleared the resulting corner attacked down the left with John Curran, he crossed, Blues again failed to clear their lines and John Sands was at the back post to fire the ball home.
Joao Carlos’ introduction early in the second half acted as the catalyst for some good Blues’ play. But in the 56th minute, Mike Jones deflected shot – coming after another corner that Grays failed to deal with – nestled in the bottom corner and the game was as good as over.
Late in the game, Joao Carlos had a shot from 12 yards cleared off the line and in the dying seconds, Daniel Day turned well in the box but sent his shot over the bar.
In the end, Danny Heale’s Seasiders were fully deserving of their 4-1 win, with all the damage done in a first half 25 minute blitz.
Grays Athletic: L Anderson; Pope, Flynn, P Anderson, Yala; Osman, Docker (Fry 64’), Beaney; Bunce, Nouble (Day 71’), Small (Carlos 51’).
Canvey Island: Guzman; Hawes, Dumas, Game (Kinch 70’), Bartley; Humphrey (Bryan-Edwards, 87’), Sellears (Strickland 80’), Jones, Chatting; Curran, Sands.
Star man: Nick Humphrey (Canvey Island)