Leiston 1 Grays Athletic 2
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
A last-minute goal extended Grays’ lead at the top of the Ryman Premier Division to three points and with it, condemned the Blues to a first defeat of the season.
The win was no more than Grays deserved with in-form striker Dumebi Dumaka starting and ending the scoring, in an impressive display for the visitors.
But things could have been so different had the hosts got themselves ahead in the opening minute. Gareth Heath’s free kick found Tom Bullard in acres of space, in the visitors’ box, but the ball got stuck in his feet and the loose ball was deflected wide by John Sands.
Six minutes later Grays pounced for their opener.
Leiston’s Patrick Brothers’ stray pass was picked up by Dumaka in his own half, who then weaved unchallenged through the heart of the home defence before stroking home low to Ashlee Jones’ left from just inside the box.
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From here Grays began to dominate, confidently passing the ball around with a patient build-up.
Winger Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson almost grabbed a second on 21 minutes, ghosting on to Jay Silva’s left wing cross, but his header was inches wide. Moments later Bullard was denied by a flying save from Lemar Johnson as Leiston’s biggest threat came via set pieces.
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So it was no surprise when the hosts levelled from one and it was no surprise that Bullard, who had been the biggest threat to date, scored it.
Danny Cunningham’s deep free-kick found Bullard at the far post and he neatly guided his header beyond the despairing dive of Johnson just two minutes before half-time.
Suddenly Leiston had a spring in their step and only a low, smart save from Johnson denied Brothers’ effort moments before the interval.
Just after the hour, Leiston had a great opportunity to take the lead with their best move of the match. Joe Jefford found Christy Finch wide on the left. He drove forward into the box before finding Heath who set up Leon Ottley-Gooch.
His shot looked goalbound, but for an amazing intervention on the line from Kenny Beaney. Joao Carlos then saw an effort hit the side netting, in a response from Grays, before the late, late drama.
A trio of Grays corners were well defended but from a delightful cross from Silva, Dumaka got ahead of the advancing Jones to nod his and Grays’ second goal.
There was still time for a sharp turn and shot from Finch to draw a flying save from Johnson, and a flurry of late corners, but Leiston could not force an equaliser.
Blues manager Richard Wilkins, said: “My biggest disappointment today was the manner of the goals we conceded, both came via poor defending.
“The late goal was a sickening finale but Grays fully deserved their win and they are the best side we have faced this season.
“We were very tentative early on and they dominated the opening half hour but we grew into the game.
“The second half was a close affair before the late drama.”