Blues are well worth their second chance
The Emirates FA Cup – 1st Qualifying Round
Saturday 2nd September 2017
Hertford Town 1(0) Grays Athletic 1(1)
A superb headed goal from Tommy Wade earned the Blues a well-deserved replay against a Grays Athletic side that is one of this season’s more-fancied Bostic League North sides.
Having gone behind to a 19th minute penalty the Blues kept their composure and stuck at their task and it could be argued that not only were they good value for their 75th minute equaliser, a late winner would not have been against the balance of play.
Despite that, though, the Blues were indebted to their keeper Charlie Mann for keeping the scores level. His superb one-handed save from a close-range effort in the last minute of normal time was ‘right out of the top drawer’.
Another 300 plus crowd saw the Blues have slightly the better of the opening exchanges with Ricky Light’s 20-yard effort in the tenth minute being the first shot on target. The visitors were looking dangerous on the break, however, particularly down their right flank and after Tyler Hatherly had been booked for a foul near the right corner flag in the 15th minute, he was deemed guilty of committing a similar foul four minutes later, but this time at the expense of a penalty. Former Ware FC player, Kieran Bishop, took responsibility from the spot and will have been relieved to see his low shot just evade Charlie Mann’s valiant dive to his right.
Charlie was again called into action soon after, to tip a free-kick over the bar, which, although over-hit, would have dipped into the far top corner of his goal.
Undaunted by going a goal behind, the Blues gradually clawed their way back into the game and over the course of the next ten minutes created two opportunities to equalise. The first came in the 28th minute when both Ricky Light and Tommy Wade had close-range shots blocked at the expense of a corner, and then, ten minutes before the break, Michael Toner’s header from a Matt Thomson corner glanced narrowly wide.
All their good efforts were nearly undone, though, when an incisive Grays attack ended with the ball in the back of the Blues’ net only for it the ruled out for offside. Still in the game, the Blues might have done better to take full advantage of an excellent right-wing cross from Charlie Ruff that passed untouched across the face of the visitors’ goal. They didn’t and were therefore still trailing by a single goal when the referee blew his whistle for half-time.
The second half opened with the Blues on top, searching for that elusive equaliser but, although they were clearly having the better of the play, they could never overlook the dangers being presented by the visitors. Charlie Mann pulled off another good save when he beat away a fierce drive from outside the box in the 54th minute but, apart from that, the Blues were looking confident and after Ricky Light had headed wide in the 71st minute after good work between Charlie Ruff and Matt Thomson, Tommy Wade came up with his superb equaliser, four minutes later.
A very neat and flowing passing move up the pitch ended with Charlie Ruff picking out Tommy with a cross from the right and, from the edge of the box, Tommy powered a brilliant header into the top corner of the goal.
For the remaining 20 minutes or so it was the Blues who were looking the most likely to score and Charlie Mann’s 90th minute save aside, it was efforts from Charlie Ruff, Dan Ferrigno and Daniel Bond that might have sealed a Blues victory.
The teams will now meet again in a replay decider at Aveley FC’s ground on Wednesday 6th September at 7.45 pm.
Team:, Charlie Mann, Ollie Sharman, Tyler Hatherly, Matt Thomson, Michael Toner, Jason Beck, Brett O’Connor, Charlie Edwards, Charlie Ruff, Tommy Wade (Daniel Bond 87’) and Ricky Light(Dan Ferrigno 59’).
Subs not used: Jonah Evans, Dan Palmer, Glenn Draper, Davy Edmee & Ben Andreos.
Match Report by Ray Greenall