No Gray day for Beavers as title beckons
Hampton made sure the title was in their hands to win as they dominated a youthful Grays Athletic team to win 3-0.
Dowse was forced into a change in the lineup as a late illness ruled out keeper Mark Smith, meaning backup Martin Brennan had to step up and make his first competitive start for 6 years.
The Beavers quickly took the upper hand and Jamal Lowe was the early threat as he forced two early saves from Grays captain & keeper George Kamurasi within the first 10 minutes.
Grays had to clear another chance off the line just afterwards before once more Lowe met a Brendan Kiernan cross to force Kamurasi into a third save.
It seemed only a matter of time before the Beavers would break through the Grays defence and on 26 minutes, they finally managed it. A Josh Casey corner from the right was met in the box by a charging Moussa Diarra, whose header beat the defenders on the line for his 14th goal of the season.
The Beavers tried to push on for the rest of the half but the Grays defence managed to hold on before Hampton grabbed the second, early in the second half. Brendan Kiernan was lurking on the edge of the box as the half cleared ball came back out to him. He picked his spot and curled it accurately past Kamurasi from 18 yards to extend the lead.
4 mintes later, Kiernan's positioning put him in the right place to grab his 10th goal of the season. Nicke Kabamba's shot from just inside the box beat Kamurasi but struck the post, it finally fell to Kiernan and the midfielder's shot gave the despairing cover no chance.
By the possession the Beavers had, it was starting to look like there could be a hatful of goals as they created chance after chance.
Jamal Lowe was the next to put a shot on target but it also straight at the keeper, who was keeping the Blues in the game.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Brendan Kiernan looked to have grabbed a hat-trick with a shot following Kamurasi's rush of blood chase to the edge of the box; but the shot hit the post and Lowe's attempt from the rebound was saved by the keeper.
Grays, now the match was long gone, started to show a little gumption and Richeford managed to get one of their few shots on target with just a handful of minutes left, which Brennan had to acrobatically save by his right hand post.
The introduction of Charlie Moone in the 70th minute, had given the Beavers the appearance of playing 4 up front and the striker thought he'd given the side a 4-0 lead in added time, but his shot was the second to hit the post for the Beavers and they had to settle for just a 3-0 victory.
With Bognor also winning at Leiston, it means that no matter what the Rocks do in midweek against Brentwood, the Beavers will need to just earn a point at fortress Beveree against Enfield Town next Saturday to win the Ryman Premier League, some 9 years after the last time they were crowned champions.
Grays Athletic (0) 0
Hampton & Richmond Borough (1) 3
Moussa Diarra 26'
Brendan Kiernan 50', 54'
Grays Athletic: 1 George Kamurasi, 2 Ryan Richeford, 3 Chris Manangu (Joseph Boachie 35'), 4 Jamie Fuller, 5 Joe Tennent, 6 Jermaine Osei, 7 Calvin Ekpiteta, 8 Freddy Gard (Mark Bentley 50'), 9 Calvin Poko (Christian Papadimos 77'), 10 Brian Moses, 11 Micheal Ezeh
Subs: 12 Mark Bentley, 15 Joseph Boachie, 16 Christian Papadimos
Hampton & Richmond Borough: 1 Martin Brennan, 2 Tom Jelley, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Kieran Murphy, 5 Moussa Diarra, 6 Leon Solomon, 7 Eddie Hutchinson (Charlie Moone 70'), 8 Tom Beere, 9 Nicke Kabamba, 10 Brendan Kiernan, 11 Jamal Lowe
Subs: 12 Dean Sinclair, 13 Adrian Blake, 14 Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, 15 Charlie Moone, 16 Michael Kamara
Photo (c) Neil Hood