Hythe Town v Cray Wanderers –
Bostik League South – 10/3/2018
Hythe Town 2
Palmer 13, Ansah 52
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers promotion hopes took a knock as their fourth successive away trip into Kent ended in defeat at ten man Hythe Town and a third straight league loss. Cray remain fifth in the Bostik South and are currently six points behind second placed Corinthian Casuals. The win also kept Hythe’s playoff hopes very much alive and put them six points behind Cray in a congested promotion race in 7th place.
This was both teams first league game for a fortnight following the cold snap of last week meant a fixtures wipeout and the snow of last week was replaced by steady rain before the match.
Hythe settled the quicker and went in front after 13 minutes when Ryan Palmer curled home a fine shot cutting in from the right and came close to adding to their lead.
The home side had to play over an hour with ten men after top scorer Jerson dos Santos was sent off just before the half hour for violent conduct.
Hythe though continued to impress going forward and went two nil up in the 52nd minute when Zak Ansah fired into the net from a breakaway.
Cray kept plugging away and pulled a goal back six minutes from time through Charlie MacDonald’s sixth goal for Cray but despite some late pressure couldn’t force a leveller and a point.
From Cray’s last league outing at Ashford United, there were three changes to the starting line up with Karl Dent, Michael Power and Junior Dadson starting in place of Dean Carpenter, Charlie MacDonald and Aaron Rhule. Lea Dawson was serving the last game of a three game suspension.
Despite the rather soggy conditions and slightly heavy pitch both teams started confidently enough. Hythe saw a very early free kick shot from Darren Oldaker held by Nick Blue. Shortly after Junior Dadson set up Karl Dent whose shot from just outside the area was deflected through to keeper Will Godmon off Mitchell Dickenson.
Hythe created the first real chance of the game when Kieron Campbell down the left put over a cross to Ryan Palmer who fired just wide of the right post.
That was a temporary let off as in the 13th minute with a goal which really came out of nothing the ball was worked down the right to Palmer who cut inside and curled home a fine low shot from just under 25 yards out which beat the diving Blue and into the bottom left corner.
It should really have been two nil straight after but a cross from the right found Oldaker who turned the ball over the bar.
Then a corner from Palmer from the left had to be cleared off the line by a combination of Blue and Mitchell Nelson and was eventually cleared away. Then another shot from the lively Palmer from 25 yards was very well held by Blue.
Cray had a fair bit of possession but found real chances hard to come by and Hythe saw another long range free kick from Oldaker on target but comfortably saved by Blue.
The game’s tide appeared to be turning when in the 27th minute following a fairly innocuous skirmish on the right touchline Jerson Dos Santos appeared to put Zak Henry in a headlock and force him to the ground which saw Hythe’s leading scorer receive a red card after consultation with the linesman who was well placed to see the incident.
Hythe continued to look threatening going forward and Palmer shot well over and then it could have been two nil but for a fine save by Blue. Showing great pace, Campbell burst down the left to the byline, cut the ball across and Zak Ansah seemed certain to score but Blue got down bravely to block the close range effort.
Before half time Cray started to get back into the game and Dent hit a shot which went wide and then Dent saw an effort deflect off Michael Freiter and behind for a goal kick.
Perhaps Cray’s best opening came just before half time when Barney Williams found Dadson down the left and his cross was deflected across goal by Ryan Johnson.
Half Time: 1-0
The second half started with a couple of changes for Cray with Freiter and Dent replaced by Charlie MacDonald and Dean Carpenter to give the Wands two men up front.
With Cray looking to build some momentum Hythe broke away in the 52nd minute to score a well taken second goal. The ball started from a throw in down the right and the ball came to Oldaker who strode forward and played a lovely through ball into the path of Ansah who finished clinically with twelve yards.
Cray attempted to get back into it and MacDonald put the ball in the net but was ruled out for offside and then Oldaker shot over the bar for Hythe.
Hythe were defending extremely well and with determination and the ten men kept Cray at bay for much of the half. The Wands won one or two corners and from one of those, Barney Williams’ left wing cross to the back post was put behind by Jay Leader.
This was followed from a free kick out on the right, twelve yards from goal, Dadson’s cross into the area found the head of Nelson but his header was blocked by Hythe defenders.
The early afternoon rain had now been replaced by very bright sunshine on the Kent coast and Dadson cut in from the right and saw a shot from the edge of the area held by Godman at the near post.
A few moments later more good work by Dadson down the right saw a dangerous ball deflected across goal and behind for a corner off Johnson. From the corner from Williams, Godmon did well under pressure to punch the ball away and behind for another corner.
With six minutes to go Cray got themselves back into the game with a fine finish from MacDonald after a ball forward wasn’t cut out by Dickenson and MacDonald stole in to stride forward and place the ball wide of Godmon into the bottom left corner.
Cray looked to exert late pressure but Hythe were able to repel those attacks and cleverly look to play out time. However in the third minute of four added on minutes of injury time Cray almost levelled with Power who didn’t have too many chances in the game worked an opening for himself but cutting in from the left but from the edge of the area put his shot over the bar and with that came Cray’s last chance to grab a point.
Cray certainly put in a lot of effort and finished strongly and Dadson and MacDonald linked up well in the second half. Hythe though under Sam Denly look like a side who could yet have a say in the final playoff picture and have a lot of pace in their side and defended resolutely when down to ten men and there was a Chiellini of Juventus style celebratory air to whenever they cleared the ball away or got in a block tackle.
The games come thick and fast and in a big week on and off the field this week, Cray face another dangerous playoff contender in Whyteleafe on Wednesday night in a bid to get a run going in the final nine games of the season.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Zak Henry, Michael Freiter (Dean Carpenter, H/T), Karl Dent (Charlie MacDonald, H/T), Junior Dadson, Brandon Scott (Aaron Rhule, 63): Subs: Marcus Evans
Booked: Henry, Scott, Carpenter
Hythe Town: Will Godmon, Michael Turner (Keane Gillett, H/T), Salvyn Kisitu, Charlie Webster, Ryan Johnson (Capt.), Mitchell Dickenson, Ryan Palmer, Darren Oldaker, Zak Ansah, Jerson dos Santos, Kieron Campbell (Callum Phillip, 87): Subs: Josh Stirman, James Nurden, Charlie Owen
Sent Off: Dos Santos, 27
Referee: Ricky Adams
Assistant Referees: Joe Kaspar, Wally James