Grays Athletic 3, Tilbury 0
TILBURY and their fans left Mill Field nursing a sense of injustice after Sunday’s derby FA Cup tie.
At the end of the game the margin looked comfortable for Grays, who in truth didn’t have to get out of second gear after they weathered an enterprising early spell from their visitors from a division below in the non-League ladder.
Dockers made a bright start and for lengthy spells through the opening 20 minutes they pushed Grays back with some, their best effort being an opportunity for Lee Weemes that he spurned.
The first moment of controversy, and one which turned the game, came on 35 minutes when Kenny Beaney raced into the box and tumbled under a challenge from Jake Pooley. The ref immediately pointed to the spot. It seemed a soft decision by Joao Carlos isn’t one to spurn an opportunity and coolly slotted his penalty to right of keeper Chico Ramos.
The penalty appeared to knock the stuffing out of Tilbury, who perhaps sensed it wasn’t to be their day. The urgency went out of their play and they resorted to longer balls and became stretched.
That allowed plenty of room for Grays to exploit and no-one is better at that than Carlos, who came close to extending the lead three minutes before the break when he dispossessed Conor Mead and cut inside, smashing a fierce drive that came back off the underside of the crossbar and bounced away from Ramos’s goal with the keeper well beaten.
It looked at that point as if Tilbury would get into the dressing room and have the chance to regroup just one goal behind but in the closing minute of the half, with Tilbury appealing in vain for offside, substitute Jack West – on for the injured Jeff Hammond – raced through and netted past Ramos.
To their credit, Tilbury came out in an upbeat mood after the resumption and in the first minute of the resumption, Lee Weemes had a good effort, but shot wide, before Danny Francis also had an effort saved by Lamar Johnson at his near post.
However, the game was put beyond them on the hour – again in controversial circumstances when Beaney’s miss-hit shot wrong-footed everybody but rolled into the path of West, who looked several yards offside but nevertheless slotted the ball home. Tilbury were incensed not to see a flag raised.
There was further angst for the visitors who through West should have been sent off when he clashed with Jake Poley, with the Dockers claiming he had stamped on the defender’s head. Their protests brought a caution for Francis and, belatedly and after the intervention of both assistants, a yellow for West who could probably consider himself lucky to be on the pitch.
After that the game played out with one or two more minor flashpoints but the battle had been well and truly won by Grays.
At the end frustrated Tilbury manager Paul Vaughan tried to be upbeat, saying: “The penalty before half time was a weak call and the second goal was offside. we need to move on quickly from the is defeat and will be ready for Needham Market next Saturday in the FA Trophy.”