SAT 16 NOV - GRAYS ATHLETIC (HOME) - Isthmian League


 Felixstowe & Walton United secured their first league win since September after an impressive home victory versus sixth placed Grays Athletic, Callum Bennett scoring the winning goal on 79 minutes with a well taken penalty, lashing the ball into the roof of the net to give the Grays goalkeeper no chance.  The healthy crowd of 332 were treated to an entertaining game on a cold afternoon, both sides playing some good football in an evenly matched and competitive affair.

Grays started brightly with Danny Crump in the Felixstowe goal making two cracking saves and also seeing his crossbar rattle following a long range strike from the lively Joao Carlos. The Seasiders will be pleased how they gradually took control of the game during the first half, Armani Schaar and Callum Bennett linking up well on the right side and creating several half chances, whilst the back four were outstanding all afternoon.

Felixstowe were again forced into changing the team as on-loan George Clarke picked up a groin injury Saturday morning and have been dealt a further blow with the news that Josh Kerridge will be out for 6-8 weeks following a minor operation. Dan Davis was still missing due to suspension.

Following the goalless first half, it was the introduction of Josh Lee at half time that saw the home side ramp up the pressure and it was his movement upfront that was making the difference as Felixstowe went searching for that much needed winning goal. Grays had started to come into the game more as the second half wore on but it was the home fans cheering as Armani Schaar burst forward late in the game and was brought down in the box for an obvious penalty, Callum Bennett duly and emphatically converted from the spot. Felixstowe managed to see out the remainder of the game without too many concerns, although the visitors did find the net in the 89th minute, but only after the assistant referee had raised his flag for offside. It was off the pitch that the fingernails were being bitten as the supporters were all too aware that a clean sheet had not been achieved since the 0-0 draw at Coggeshall back in September. The final whistle was greeted by cheers and all-round relief, the fans giving the team well-deserved applause as they left the pitch.

Felixstowe Manager, Stuart Boardley was understandably delighted when speaking after the game. “It feels great, the first three points since Andy (Crump) and I came to the club, and I thought it was a very solid and complete defensive performance, without being too exciting in attacking areas, but we were very solid and then took our chance and kept them out well at the other end, something we have not been doing in the last few games”. He went on to say. “I thought the entire back four were great, but special mention to Stuart Ainsley who played in there today, out of position, did extremely well and alongside Sam Nunn, who again I thought was excellent, but everyone was solid today, you look at how well Josh Lee and Armani Schaar linked up well in that second half, really working hard for the team”. Looking ahead to the next game at Tilbury on Saturday, Boardley said “It will be another tough game; all the games will be tight as it’s a very difficult league and I don’t think an awful lot separates the teams all throughout the league”. “We have been hoping for several weeks that once we get that win, it will just trigger that belief in the players, and once we scored today we did show that missing bit of belief and got that bit of luck to finally get that result, hopefully now we will get that snowball effect”.

It was confirmed after the game that striker Tom Debenham has left the club; Stuart Boardley thanked him for his efforts and wished him well for the future. Also, subject to F.A paperwork completion, Boardley was able to confirm that Sam Nunn’s loan has been extended until the end of the season and that fellow current Stowmarket loanee, striker George Clarke will be signing for the club on a permanent deal.

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