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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
Grays Athletic 3
R. Mahal (57), C. Ibe (61), A. Cole (64)
Canvey Island 6
M. Gilbey (10), S. Collins (47), G. Sykes (52), G. Sykes (54), M. Gilbey (65), S. Sheehan (70)

Canvey Island won an incredible match 6-3 away to Grays Athletic in the Bostik North on Wednesday night.

On a wet evening on the 4G pitch at Aveley’s new Parkside home, the Gulls raced into a 4-0 lead in the second half before being pegged back to 4-3, only to score twice more to seal the three points.

Manager Danny Heale made one change from the side that beat Romford on Saturday, bringing Teddy Nesbitt in on the left wing in place of Ryan Charles who was unable to make the start of the match due to work commitments.

There was also a place on the bench for young midfielder Taylor Lawrence, a local lad who has recently played for Benfleet as well as Chelmsford City Under-18's.

Grays meanwhile included two former-Canvey players in their starting XI in midfielders Glenn Poole and Callum Ibe.

The Gulls started brightly, with Sam Collins having a shot from 20 yards go over the top corner inside two minutes. Soon afterwards Mitchell Gilbey played a free kick into the area which George Sykes was inches away from bringing under control in behind the Grays defence.

Canvey took the lead on 10 minutes when they were awarded a free kick 35 yards from goal on the left. Mitchell Gilbey delivered another good ball into the area which George Sykes attempted to flick on with his head. Sykes failed to make contact, but his presence along with another attempted flick by a teammate was enough to distract goalkeeper Charley Aldis and allow the ball to creep in at the back post.

The home side responded well and had a chance to equalise four minutes later. A cross field ball from Glenn Poole found the run of Jamie Slabber, but his shot from the right was well saved by Ashlee Jones up above his head.

Poole had a chance of his own to score against his former-employers on 23 minutes when the ball was cut back to him inside the area by Suley Zudhu. The midfielder hit a sweet half volley which looked destined for the top corner, only for Ashlee Jones to produce a fine save and tip the ball over the bar for a corner.

This was Poole’s last real action in the match as he picked up an injury soon afterwards and was replaced by Furo Gogo-Ibiama.

On 35 minutes Grays goalkeeper Charley Aldis pulled off two saves in quick succession to keep Canvey’s lead to a single goal. First he kept out Mitchell Gilbey’s shot from a tight angle, picking himself up to beat away Sam Collins’ powerfully struck follow up.

It should have been 2-0 on 39 minutes when Sam Collins released Mitchell Gilbey in behind the home defence. Gilbey shot first time with only Aldis to beat, but his effort went over the bar in what was a gilt-edged opportunity.

In first half injury time a long ball forwards from Steve Sheehan was unconvincingly headed by Grays centre back Jack Fowler straight to George Sykes. The forward hit a low shot from distance which skidded off the surface and while being saved was not held. Mitchell Gilbey attempted to follow up to turn home the loose ball but was flagged offside.

While the first half was a reasonably quiet affair, little did the 253 in attendance know what was to come in the second half.

Canvey doubled their lead inside 60 seconds of the restart when George Sykes was dispossessed inside the area. The tackle however played the ball straight to Sam Collins on the edge of the area who drilled a low shot into the bottom corner despite Charley Aldis getting a touch diving to his right.

Grays nearly responded immediately when Callum Ibe cut the ball back from the right for Jamie Slabber at the near post. The experienced forward looked to have scored, but Ashlee Jones did brilliantly to divert the ball onto the outside of the post for a corner.

It was 3-0 on 52 minutes when a long ball over the Grays defence released George Sykes who had timed his run to keep himself onside. Sykes got his toe to the ball to poke it past Charley Aldis, walking it into an empty net.

It looked as though it was game over two minutes later when Sykes scored again. Ashley Dumas found the forward on the edge of the box who dropped his shoulder before smashing home

Grays however had other ideas.

They pulled one back on 57 minutes when Ryan Mahal headed home from a corner, and then scored again four minutes later when Callum Ibe bundled home following a free kick.

Canvey could have stopped the comeback with a goal of their own from the kick off after Grays’ second goal when a loose back pass towards Charley Aldis was intercepted by George Sykes. The ball was heading behind for a goal kick but Sykes managed to keep it in play, pulling it back for Mitchell Gilbey who shot over the bar from 12 yards.

However, a minute later the hosts reduced the arrears to a single goal. Ashlee Jones did well to save a Jamie Slabber header down by his post, but the ball was only cleared as far as Suley Zudhu who was lurking on the edge of the area. Zudhu dragged his eventual left-footed shot straight into the path of Adeyinka Cole who slotted home unmarked to turn the game well and truly on its head.

Just when it looked as though Grays were in the ascendency, Canvey restored their two goal advantage straight away. A ball over the top saw Mitchell Gilbey run in behind Jamie Stuart before lobbing Charley Aldis from the edge of the area.

Gilbey was in again two minutes when he cut inside Jamie Stuart from the right before striking a powerful shot which Charley Aldis saved. The ball however continued on its way towards goal, but Aldis was able to pick himself up and pounce on the loose ball before it could cross the line.

Canvey were awarded a penalty on 67 minutes when George Sykes was brought down inside the box by the keeper. Sykes stepped up but saw his spot kick saved by Aldis diving to his left meaning that the forward has now missed two of his last three penalties.

The scoring was rounded off on 70 minutes when Steve Sheehan headed home from a corner, extending Canvey’s lead back up to three goals and knocking the stuffing out of the Blues.

Danny Heale Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts