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Match Report
Bostik North - 2017/2018
Canvey Island 3
M. Gilbey (44p), G. Sykes (68), R. Charles (72)
Grays Athletic 0

Canvey Island returned to the top of the Bostik North with a convincing derby day victory over Grays Athletic at The Frost Hire Stadium on Saturday.

Manager Danny Heale brought Jerrome Sobers in for his first league start since mid-September in place of Elliott Warren. There was also a place on the bench for goalkeeper Tim Brown who rejoined the club from Thurrock having previously played for the Gulls during the 2014/15 campaign.

There were familiar faces in the opposition ranks, with Richard Halle starting at centre back and Callum Ibe on the bench.

The match started slowly, with both teams suffering a series of injuries that required treatment from the physios in the opening ten minutes.

The first real action came on 13 minutes when George Sykes hit a sweetly struck shot from the left which on-loan Dagenham & Redbridge goalkeeper Ben McNamara did brilliantly to tip over for a corner.

From the corner the ball struck the outstretched arm of Richard Halle inside the penalty area. However, referee Luigi Lungarella spotted a push by Halle’s former-central defensive partner Steve Sheehan and awarded Grays a free kick.

The visitors nearly took the lead on 28 minutes when James Folkes picked out experienced forward Jamie Slabber inside the area with a cross from the right. Slabber rose well and flicked a header across goal which flew inches wide of the target.

Canvey took the lead in the 44th minute after George Sykes was brought down inside the area. The forward had run the ball from deep into his own half before being needlessly hauled down by Ryan Mahal.

Mitchell Gilbey stood over the ball but had to wait a good while to take the spot kick after first Richard Halle and then Ben McNamara were booked for dissent. However, Gilbey kept his composure and sent McNamara the wrong way from the spot.

Leading at the break, Canvey pushed hard for a second goal in the early stages of the second half. On 55 minutes Ryan Charles had a goalbound header turned over the bar by Ben McNamara, also having a shot deflected wide for a corner moments later to earn a corner for his side.

Grays nearly equalised on 62 minutes when Ryan Charles committed a foul down by the corner flag on the left wing. Barry Cogan swung the free kick in to the near post which looked to be heading in, but Ashlee Jones was alert to race across his line and make the save.

Canvey doubled their lead on 68 minutes when Ryan Charles played a superb through ball which dissected the Grays defence and found the perfectly timed run of George Sykes. The forward calmly rounded Ben McNamara and slotted home into an empty net.

The three points were secured four minutes later when Sykes returned the favour, playing a similar ball through for Charles to run onto and score with an identical finish.

The remainder of the match saw Canvey content to see out the victory, with the memories of Grays coming back from 4-0 down to score three times in the reverse league fixture earlier in the season.

Photo: KJA Sports Images

Brad Wellmen Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts