Seasiders fall to defeat at league leaders Grays


Felixstowe & Walton United and their supporters that were present will be left wondering how exactly they were on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat at table topping Grays Athletic after controlling the majority of the game, creating several decent chances, but being outdone by two breakaway goals in a two minute spell midway through the first half and a well taken free kick in the second.

The Seasiders welcomed back Jordan Matthews, Henry Barley and Lamell Howell to the starting eleven, but were without the injured Curtley Williams, Josh Hitter and Harry Knock as they looked to extend their winning run of away games to three. Felixstowe are getting used to life on the road, last Tuesdays home match postponement, (Heybridge Swifts) creating a six week, five game road trip and meaning just two home league games played in the first nine weeks of the season. Felixstowe had two promising young players on the bench for this Isthmian league fixture, Tommy Smith and Darius Petrea earning their call up to the first team after impressing for the U18’s and U23’s recently.


Felixstowe started the game brightly and home supporters were heard to be praising the passing football being played by the visitors on the 3G pitch at Parkside, the superb stadium that Grays share with landlords Aveley FC. The Blues had a shot blocked on the edge of the area on 4 minutes and saw a cross evade everyone in the box on 9 minutes as it shot across the six yard line. Zak Brown seemed to be pushed to the ground as he ran towards goal and entered the 18 yard area but the minimal appeals were waved away. Henry Barley was unlucky on 13 minutes as his curling effort from 20 yards flew over the right post and on 18 minutes four Felixstowe players were lining up to convert on the edge of the box, Barley, Brown and Matthews all seeing their openings blocked before the ball fell to Ollie Canfer who had two attempts at goal in the scramble, his second a fierce shot that was deflected wide by the relieved home defence. Two minutes later and it was Barley again shooting on goal after some fine football from Canfer, this time the goalkeeper was behind the shot. The 25th minute proved pivotal in the game, Barley wowing the crowd with his mazy run, beating three players and creating space for a shot that the keeper again was behind, but it was Grays who broke directly from the goal kick and seconds later it was 1-0, quick running on the left and the cross was converted by Anointed Chukwu. A minute later and it was 2-0, a similar long ball break up field led to another cross and a simple chance for Joe Paxman to score. Felixstowe’s heads did not drop despite that two goal blast and immediately carried on controlling the vast majority of the play, Zak Brown saw his bottom corner bound shot slam off the ankle of a defender and Henry Barley teased in a good ball towards the far post that Lamell Howell was unlucky not to convert from a tricky angle. The last chance of the half fell to Zak Brown again, his looping header was held by the keeper.

Talk at halftime from the away supporters and some of the home fans was how the game was far from over despite the score line and it was again Felixstowe doing all the pressing as the second half started in torrential rain. Lamell Howell saw his shot deflected wide on 49 minutes and Zak Brown was unlucky to see another shot gathered by the keeper. Felixstowe’s best chance came on the hour mark, Ollie Canfer sent in a brilliant long range effort that the goalkeeper got his fingertips to and it smashed against the crossbar, the ball fell and hit the floored keeper but he managed to somehow grab it as it went to roll across the line. Canfer again was in the mix on 69 minutes as he slid in to meet a great cross from Brown but again the keeper pulled off a great save as the Seasiders continued the search for the crucial next goal in the game. 70 minutes saw the introduction of 18 year old Tommy Smith and he was soon in the middle of the action, winning plenty of balls, and causing all sorts of problems for the experienced home defenders. It was Smith who set up the next chance as his darting run on 73 minutes led to an excellent cross right along the goal line that Canfers toe was millimetres away from connecting with. Grays were being limited to short passages of play throughout the second half and were creating next to nothing; Callum Robinson in the Seasiders goal was mainly a redundant onlooker as time and time again Felixstowe probed and passed their way into good positions in the horrendous weather conditions. Substitute Rhys Henry saw his goal bound shot deflected wide on 76 minutes before the home side delivered the sucker punch goal on 81 minutes, winning a central free kick 20 yards from goal and it was Dave Knight who stepped up and curled a brilliant free kick around the wall to give Robinson no chance and to seal the points. Tommy Smith again showed his potential, alongside Darius Petrea who got his chance late in the game for a shot at first team action; Smiths cross finding Canfer who was unlucky not to get his head on to and Felixstowe closed the game with Billy Holland heading just wide from Stuart Ainsley’s free kick.


A soaking wet Seasiders Manager Stuart Boardley spoke to the media team after the game. “The score line was 3-0 but it’s probably the first time I am going to praise my players for their performance in a 3-0 loss because to be honest, I thought we were the better side today. Grays were just more clinical than us, credit to them, they probably had four chances in the game and they’ve got three goals, we’ve had a lot more chances than that, particularly second half, and came away with nothing. But look, I can say we were the better side but realistically, the game of football is about goals and they managed to somehow keep it out at one end and get their goals the other. They are on a high; they’re celebrating at the end like they’ve won the league. They are a football club that are obviously doing well at the moment and their players and fans will get a lift from a game like that as when you are high up in the table you can ride that crest of the wave and sometimes that can get you results that potentially you don’t deserve”. Boardley went on to say. “Darius and Tommy, the young lads that came into the squad today did really well, it’s great that we as a football club can bring those players through from the U18’s, the U23’s and then into the game today, it’s something we’ve been trying to do for the two or three years so it’s great to finally get to that point”.






Match report by Stuart Daynes

Photos by Thomas Bradford



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