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MATCH REPORT

Southern Counties East Football League

12-Sep
SCEFL 
Holland & Blair
3
v
0
Cray Valley

Cray Valley PM suffered a fourth consecutive away defeat this season as Hollands & Blair took over at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League table with this 3-0 success at Star Meadow on Saturday.

The Millers manager Paul Gross, who started this match due to the absence of a trio of recognised centre halves, bemoaned his side’s bad luck after a match in which they dominated for long spells.
Neither keeper were troubled early on and the biggest scare for Luke Colquhoun in the Millers came when Jordan Gallagher’s cross from left bounced on the top of his crossbar after 11 minutes.
Rory Hill saw a free kick cleared out to Jimmy Rogers soon after but the midfielder’s shot rose over the top of the goal.

With the Millers pressing, Blair keeper Dan Ellis collected a back pass inside his area which gave the visitors a free, a couple of yards inside the Blair area. Adam Gross tapped the ball for Hill but his shot was charged down before Jim Doherty blasted the rebound over.

After 23 minutes Luke Harvey was put clean through on goal but Ellis narrowed the angles and was able to deflect Harvey’s shot wide with the Millers, seemingly, in control.

But that all changed five minutes later as the ball deflected wide of the Millers goal off a Blair striker, and all the players preparing for a goal kick, the referee inexplicably awarded a corner kick!

Despite the Millers heated arguments, the corner was swung into the near post and Tom Michelson rose above his marker to guide a header across the goal to put the home side in front.

But the Millers responded as Adam Gross hit a 30 yard free kick into the wall before a Tommy Osborne cross was met by Harvey at the near post but his header arrowed narrowly wide.

Blair were enjoying a fair bit of good possession but rarely troubled the Millers defence as crosses or passes went astray but a free kick after 38 minutes saw Colquhoun save Michelson’s shot before Sam Presscott’s was blocked before the danger was eventually cleared.

But maybe the biggest turning point arrived after 42 minutes as Lee Craig pumped a long ball up field. As Harvey challenged for the high ball, Blair defender Stuart West could only head the ball back towards his goalkeeper. Hill, who was at least 5 yards onside when the ball was kicked, ran through to collect the ball and was one on one with Ellis in the home goal. But an assistant referee raised his flag to signal offside against the Millers midfielder to halt a goal scoring opportunity.

On hearing the referee’s whistle, an understandably frustrated Hill kicked the ball goalwards and was subsequently cautioned for his troubles and the home side were able to take their lead into the break.
The Millers came out in determined mood for the second half and began strongly. Uche Ibemere’s storming run and cross was cleared out to Hill who drove his angled shot narrowly wide of the post before Frankie Warren also saw a shot go wide of the mark.

With the Millers throwing caution to the wind in the search for an equaliser, Blair were looking to counter attack and Michelson hit a shot off target before manager Paul Gross saw yellow as he stopped Luke Fewsdale’s breakaway on halfway.

Try as they might though, the Millers couldn’t find a way past a dogged home defence and as they pressed higher, so chances for the home side became more frequent as they exploited the gaps being left at the heart of the Millers defence.

And after Michelson saw another shot rise over the top of the goal, and Paul Gross and midfielder Warren replaced by the more attack minded Adam Marsh and Alwayne Jones, Colquhoun was called into action again to save from point blank range from Blair substitute Emmanuel Abe.
With just 3 minutes of time remaining, the home side forced a corner and as it was being prepared to be taken, the referee held up play to talk to Harvey and a Blair attacker, who were pulling each other on the goal line. Then, as the corner was eventually swung over, the referee pointed to the penalty spot, presumably for another tug that only he saw, and then cautioned the Millers striker for his part in the award.

Bryan Greenfield stepped up to dispatch the spot kick high into the roof of the net to seal the Millers fate.

But that wasn’t the end of the drama as into added time, Colquhoun rushed out to the edge of his penalty area to collect a ball pumped forward. His momentum took him outside his area as he collected and he was forced to drop the ball. As tried to kick the ball clear, he lost the ball to Sam Welch who played the ball into the unmarked Michelson. Adam Gross blocked Michelson’s first goal attempt on the line, but could do nothing with the rebound as Michelson calmly slotted home with Colquhoun stranded.
Paul Gross now has a week to prepare his squad for the visit to Badgers of Sevenoaks Town next Saturday as the Millers look to add to their winning home form of two wins out of two.