Manor goal sees off Grays
By Dean Wootten
Bowers go three points clear at the top thanks to Magic Manor
Tuesday 5th January
The Len Salmon Stadium
Kick Off: 19:45
Bostick Division One North
Referee: James Hurst
Assistant Referees: Leo Del Rosso & Dominic Wynter
Lewis Manor scored the only goal of the game as Bowers & Pitsea went three points clear at the top of the league with a 1-0 win over Grays Athletic.
Bowers & Pitsea made one change to the side that beat Aveley 1-0 10 days previously as Max Cornhill came in for Lewis Clark, who dropped to the bench.
Bowers were presented with the first chance of the game as a half-cleared cross fell to Ben Sartain, but his strike was deflected just wide of the post. Andy Wilton then showed why he was the worthy winner of January Golden Gloves award when he produced a sensational save to deny Dennis Oli at the back post.
The two sides continued to exchange chances with David Knight forcing Bogard Clarke into a smart save, after being played in by Brad Warner, before former Bowers winger Correy Davidson scuffed a volley attempt wide.
Bowers were looking particularly dangerous on the break, and they came close to scoring through one such counter attack. Lewis Manor put in Quentin Monville and his cross was placed onto the head of Knight, but Clarke saved well to deny Bowers the lead.
After such a fast start it was hardly surprising that the frantic pace came to an end, with neither side able to create a chance until the last minute of the half when Knight put in Monville, but his shot was straight at Clarke.
After a quiet start to the second half, Bowers took the lead through Lewis Manor. Brad Warner led the attack, passing to the overlapping Tom Stephen whose cross was cleared to Manor. He tried a first-time effort, which was scuffed, but the ball fell kindly to Bowers All-Time Leading Goalscorer and he slotted home from the edge of the area,
Grays task was made all the more difficult three minutes later as Zak Henry was given a straight red for Violent Conduct, throwing a punch in the ensuing melee that occurred after Sartain was fouled.
Grays sent on Kieran Bishop and Aran Gordon in search of an equaliser, but Bowers looked the more likely to score. In fact, the hosts were guilty of passing up on several opportunities to put the game to bed with Warner, Stephen and Monville all seeing shots either blocked or saved.
Bowers were to see the game out comfortably and with the victory saw themselves go three points clear at the top of the Bostik Division One North, with a game in hand on most of the chasing pack.
After the game, manager Rob Small said he was ‘satisfied with the win’, conceding that while the game wasn’t a pretty spectacle for the fans, the hard thought win was pleasing.