Although a defensive miskick almost gave East Grinstead the lead after just 3 minutes, it was soon Chatham who were creating more chances. Justin Ascheri went close after 9 when he got on the end of a long ball forward, and George Benner and Ricky Gundry too saw shots go wide.
East Grinstead took the lead a little against the run of play with 24 minutes played, Elliott the scorer from close range after a goalmouth melee. The same player put East Grinstead two up five minutes later, but these were East Grinstead’s only two genuine shots of the first half.
Ade Batula saw a shot saved on the stroke of half time, and while Chatham were two down at half time they had actually had more shots than their hosts.
Chatham pulled a goal back within three minutes of the second half kicking off. A free kick was played into the area, where Freeman Rogers shot from six yards out and gave East Grinstead’s goalkeeper no chance. Leonardo Mazzone hit the post from close range on the hour and Batula saw another shot saved minutes later.
East Grinstead went close to reinstating their two goal lead from a goalmouth scramble on 69, but somehow Chatham kept the ball out of the net. It took a good save from debutant goalkeeper Ryan Burbridge to keep East Grinstead out again five minutes later, and then on 78 minutes the game took an unexpected turn.
Gundry’s innocuous tackle didn’t appear to be a foul at all, but the referee considered it serious enough to show him his second undeserved yellow card of the afternoon.
East Grinstead could make no use of the man advantage though, and things got worse for the home club when Chatham were awarded a penalty after 88 minutes. It was given for handball and the East Grinstead player ruled to have handled might consider himself unlucky, but Chatham had a chance to equalise.
Ascheri placed the penalty kick low to the left to ensure that the chance was taken. Five minutes of added time were played but without serious alarms to either defence. While Chatham’s recent away form is not that of a relegation team, home results have been another matter and they must rely on other results working in their favour if they are to avoid relegation.
East Grinstead Town 2 (Elliott 24, 29) Chatham Town 2 (Rogers 48, Ascheri 88p) Team: Burbridge, Webb (Bray 57), Lyoubi, Foster (Gibson 69), Rogers, Benner, Flack, Gundry, Mazzone, Ascheri, Batula (Butler 69). Subs not used: Edwards, Difford. Referee: Mr M Ryan (Sussex). Attendance: 123.
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