Enfield Town 2 Grays Atheltic 1
Report from Andrew warshaw
A pair of worldies from Scott Thomas and Sam Youngs earned us a come-from-behind victory against an at times over-physical Grays Athletic on Saturday, making it four straight wins in what was our final pre-season fixture before next weekend’s big kickoff.
Missing the likes of Ollie Knight, Mickey Parcell, James Richmond and Louis Birch, there were loads of positives to take away despite, in Gavin Macpherson’s words, plenty of work still to be done on the training pitch before we entertain Concord Rangers.
In horribly wet conditions, Town were hit with an unfortunate blow just before kickoff when Ryhs Forster slipped during a routine goalkeeping drill and appeared to turn his ankle.
Adi Connolly ended up keeping goal throughout but it is hoped Rhys will recover in time for next Saturday.
Grays, one of the favourites to be promoted from Step 4 and now managed by former Hornchurch boss Mark Stimson, made it hard for us in the first half, cutting off our supply lines and dealing out some tasty challenges to put it mildly.
On 33 minutes, the visitors took the lead when Kyle Bailey, making an unusual error, was caught in possession and Sully Buchannon tucked the ball home inside Adi’s near post.
The second half, as so often in pre-season, was a different story. Just two minutes after the break, skipper Scott hit a 25-yard screamer to pull us level and just after the hour mark we were in front courtesy of Sam’s audacious back heel (pictured, no. 8) from recent signing Carlos Garcia-Velasco’s curling cross.
A mix-up at the back almost let Grays back in, shortly after which new signing Dylan Adjei-Hersey had to be substituted holding his left shoulder as a result of perhaps the most brutal challenge of the game.
A few more half-chances for Town came and went, two falling to Jake Cass who managed to play the full 90 minutes – a huge tonic for both himself and the management – before the referee brought an end to proceedings.
“Stimmo’s sides are always competitive,” said Gavin with more than a hint of understatement. “To be honest that side of the game is perhaps something we are short on. People like to see the football played but 15 to 20 points a season will be won out of possession when you need to stand up and be counted.”
“I appreciate we are not set up to play that way but in a way this was the sort of game I wanted.”
Except, of course, we need to play well in both halves rather than just one.
“That’s exactly right. Again I was a bit grumpy at halftime which is not how I am very often. We have to look after ourselves a little bit better when things get a bit more physical, and be better retaining possession.”
“But two very good goals, we could have had more and the second half was a really good step forward from where we’ve been.”
Town starting line-up
Connolly; Velasco, Okotcha, Bailey, Payne; Thomas, Youngs, Adjei-Hersey; Beckles-Richards, Cass, Wyllie