Grays 3-1 Fleet

FLEET LOSE NEW YEAR’S DAY CLASH IN ESSEX DESPITE KEZIE IBE GOAL…

GRAYS ATHLETIC 3-1 EBBSFLEET UNITED


Report by Ed Miller

Grays made it two wins in two games against the Fleet after New Year’s
Day proved not to be the fresh start that staff, players and fans had
hoped for after a disappointing December. Hoping to avenge the
single-goal defeat at Stonebridge Road on Boxing Day, Liam Daish made a
number of changes to the side that lost at Oxford. Dean Pooley and
James Smith swapped places on the treatment table while Danny Slatter
returned to right back ahead of Mark Ricketts, Neil Barrett replaced
Jamie Hand, Michael Gash was recalled after suspension and Ricky Shakes
won a rare start down the right.

The Fleet started positively
with Gash winning the early exchanges against Jon Ashton and Jamie
Stuart while Neil Barrett looked initially sharp after his lay-off.
Luke Moore drew first blood on eight minutes, meeting Shakes’ cross but
goalkeeper Arnold was equal to it, as he was eight minutes later when
Sacha Opinel’s somewhat wayward effort from another Shakes pass found
its way through. Opinel had a better chance from a header but it was
blocked by Ashton and cleared. But Grays, looking more menacing than at
Stonebridge Road, gradually upped the tempo in midfield where Stuart
Thurgood and Sam Sloma were in good form. Jamie Slabber’s physical
presence was giving Pooley plenty to do, though the Grays forward
didn’t threaten much otherwise, while Peter Hawkins looked far more at
home in the centre than he does at full-back.

The first half
was a largely scrappy affair, however, and Gash’s shot on 28 minutes
the only real effort the Fleet could count while the score remained
blank. Opinel was getting plenty of space down the left but his
distribution let him down while Shakes was as ever a willing runner on
the opposite side but lacked enough edge to trouble the Grays back
line. A goal didn’t appear likely for either side but Grays grabbed it
on the half hour, though could thank the linesman and referee for
combining to award Wesley Thomas a free kick for an innocuous challenge
by

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