Grays Athletic 1-1 Canvey Island
Gulls Fight Back For Point
Canvey Island and Grays Athletic played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Parkside on Saturday afternoon.
Trailing at the break, Canvey pulled a goal back early in the second half before injuries forced them to play the final 15 minutes with ten men.
Assistant manager Brad Wellmen made three changes from the side that beat Barking on the opening day of the season. In came Jordan Brown at left back, Marlon Agyakwa into midfield and George Sykes up front, with Jake Jolliffe, Ryan Melaugh and Martin Tuohy the players to make way.
The first serious threat to either goal came on the quarter of an hour mark when Grays forward Aron Gordon chipped a weighted ball over the Canvey defence for Adeyinka Cole to run onto, bursting into the area from the right. Cole got his head down and headed towards goal, but Harry Palmer did well to make himself big and save at the near post.
Two minutes later a cross from the right was flicked on by the head of George Sykes for strike partner Jordan Cox. The pair exchanged passes before Cox pulled the trigger, seeing his effort deflected behind for a corner. This was delivered to the back post and found Marlon Agyakwa, but his shot from a tight angle hit the side netting.
The home side had two excellent chances to the take lead in the 19th minute. Firstly Shomari Barnwell shot through the legs of Alex Stephenson from the right, forcing Harry Palmer into a save diving low to his right. He pushed the ball out straight to Usman Adeniji who was unmarked eight-yards from goal, but it came to him quickly and he was unable to react quick enough to turn it home.
Grays maintained possession and worked it out to the left wing where it was swung into the danger area by Adeyinka Cole. The ball found Adeniji unmarked once again, but this time the former-Canvey winger didn’t get enough contact on his header and it went across goal for a goal kick.
Harry Palmer was called into action again on the half hour mark to pull off a fantastic double save. Firstly he parried a powerful effort from Aron Gordon on the edge of the box, and he followed this up seconds later by keeping out Shomari Barnwell’s follow-up shot from close range.
Grays had been by far the better side and deservedly took the lead on 35 minutes in spectacular circumstances. The ball was played infield from the left and found midfielder Mitch Hahn 25 yards from goal in a central position. Hahn was in acres of space and used this to line up an unstoppable shot which nestled into the top corner.
Having been off the pace in the first half, Canvey got themselves back on terms seven minutes into the restart. Mitchell Gilbey delivered a good corner which found Frankie Merrifield in space, and the midfielder was able to thump home a free header from eight yards.
On the hour mark Jordan Cox flicked a ball over the Grays defence for Marlon Agaykwa to run onto, but having collected it the other side he was unable to get it out from underneath his feet and found himself with his back to goal. The midfielder managed to eventually turn but his shot was blocked at close range by a defender.
Up the other end a throw from the left on 64 minutes was worked across the edge of the area and found Adeyinka Cole in a central position. Cole’s shot looked goalbound but a deflection sent it inches wide with Harry Palmer diving desperately to his right.
A minute later Shomari Barnwell got the better of Jake Pitty cutting in from the left wing and squaring for Usman Adeniji 18 yards from goal. His shot was off target but instead headed straight for Adeyinka Cole, but he failed to make contact with his attempted back heel from close range.
Canvey made a double substitution on 66 minutes, introducing Martin Tuohy and Sam Collins in place of Jordan Cox and Marlon Agyakwa. This inadvertently caused assistant manager Brad Wellmen a problem, as soon afterwards both Jose Figura and Alex Stephenson went down with bad injuries that meant they were unable to continue.
Alex Stephenson left the field on a stretcher and was replaced by Jake Jolliffe, and while Jose Figura came back on he was unable to move freely and soon also exited the action leaving the Gulls to finish the match with ten men.
On 86 minutes Mitchell Gilbey and Jake Pitty exchanged passes on the right wing which created space for the attacker to run into. Gilbey pulled the trigger with a low left-footed shot from just inside the box which he dragged inches wide.
Grays came even closer in the second minute of injury time when Canvey failed to clear their lines and gave away possession out on the left wing. The ball was played infield for Shomari Barnwell who struck a curling first-time shot with his left foot which hit the top of the post, clipping the outside and going out for a goal kick.
The final kick of the match saw Joao Carlos pull the trigger from 25 yards, but his low shot was straight at Harry Palmer who made a simple save.
Listen: Brad Wellmen Post-Match Interview