Cray Wanderers vs. Herne Bay – Match Report

Isthmian Premier – Monday 2nd January, 2023

Cray Wanderers                               3

Bassett 17, Derry 81, Jones 87

Herne Bay                                        0

Photos:  Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers moved up to 2nd place in the Isthmian Premier after victory against Herne Bay as Neil Smith’s side carried on where they left off in 2022 with a fourth straight win and unbeaten in eight league games.  Cray are now one point behind league leaders Hornchurch and also Shaun Rowley picked up his eighth clean sheet of the season.

Despite the final scoreline the match was still delicately poised going into the last ten minutes and Herne Bay had opportunities especially in the first half.  After a couple of early chances for Herne Bay, Cray went ahead in the 17th minute when Dan Bassett side footed his 11th goal of the season

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Herne Bay were perhaps unfortunate not to score before half time but the second half was a more scrappier affair with Kymani Thomas having the best opening for the visitors.  Cray though managed to put daylight between the sides nine minutes from time when Tom Derry scored for the third straight game when he followed up a Nyren Clunis cross which was pushed out by Jordan Perrin.  

There was gloss put on the scoreline three minutes from time when Sam Wood’s right wing corner was headed into the net by Jalen Jones for his second goal of the season and the game was won.

Cray were looking to keep up the momentum from Boxing Day’s victory at Margate and from that side there was one change with Yahaya Bamba coming in for the poorly Anthony Cook. 

Kevin Watson’s Herne Bay side in their first ever season in the Isthmian Premier were beaten at home by Folkestone Invicta on Boxing Day and there was one change to the starting lineup with Marcel Barrington coming in for Rory Smith.

After an impeccably observed period of silence and applause for former Wands coach Wally Hill, Pele and George Cohen before the game, the match began with Herne Bay just shading the early exchanges

In the fifth minute, Herne Bay created the first chance of the game when Kymani Thomas who had a very positive game put over a cross from the left and Tushaun Walters fired over from 10 yards.

Then five minutes later Herne Bay had another opportunity when Thomas’s shot was parried by Shaun Rowley and following up Walters effort was put behind for a corner.

Cray began to exert some pressure and in the 12th minute from a Sam Wood left wing corner the ball came to David Ijaha whose shot was blocked for another corner.

In the 16th minute, Wood from inside his own half pinged a fine ball out to Dan Bassett down the left who hit a first time shot wide of the left post.

A minute later though Cray were in front with a well worked goal as Tom Derry played the ball out to Yahaya Bamba down the right and his ball across the box came to Bassett who side footed into the net.

Herne Bay were still in the game and Thomas hit a shot which Rowley got down to save while at the other end, Wood was unlucky to see his lofted shot land just over from 25 yards.

On the half hour, Thomas made another positive run forward and via a deflection the ball came to Marcel Barrington whose shot was saved at the second attempt by Rowley as the Bay continued to pose a threat.  Then Barrington’s shot was deflected off target off a Herne Bay player.

Cray were unlucky not to score a second when the impressive Jephte Tanga found Bamba who turned and from just inside the area placed a shot just wide of the right post.

Then down the right Nyren Clunis cut into the area but his near post shot went wide as the game was starting to go from end to end.

Herne Bay finished the first half though on top and three minutes before the break came close as Thomas set up Walters whose strike was pushed away well by Rowley.

In stoppage time, Mason Saunders-Henry down the left played a ball into the six yard box for Thomas but his effort was blocked and cleared away.  Then from a free kick out on the left, Walters’ ball into the area was headed over by Saunders-Henry.

HT:  1-0

The second half was a more scrappier affair with Cray enjoying possession but couldn’t quite kill off the game while Herne Bay stayed in the match but were not quite as threatening going forward.

Herne Bay had the first shooting chance of the second half when Barrington down the right with space fired into the side netting.

For Cray, Bassett did well down the left and put a ball into the box for Bamba but the ball was saved by Jordan Perrin and the ball was cleared away by the Herne Bay defence.  Herne Bay won a corner down the left and Walters’ cross was headed over by Laurence Henry

Josh Allen came on before the hour for his second Wands appearance and Cray had a half chance to score a second when Wood found Tom Derry down the right of the area who held off Harvey but hooked his effort off target.

Half way through the second half, Herne Bay almost scored an equaliser when Rory Smith found Thomas who shot wide of the left post from 15 yards.  Then from a free kick from the edge of the D, Smith’s shot came back off the defensive wall.

In the 81st minute Cray had breathing space for the first time with a second goal as down the Clunis put over a cross which Perrin could only push out and came to Derry who fired home from 8 yards for his seventh goal of the season and his third in consecutive games.

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Herne Bay had battled well and Walters shot over the top but Cray were looking to finish the game well.

In the 87th minute, Cray scored a third goal when from a corner down the right, Wood’s ball towards the far post was met emphatically by Jalen Jones to head into the roof of the net.

Cray came close to a fourth when Allen shot wide from a free kick but the game was won by this stage and although at times the Wands were not at their most fluent against a positive Herne Bay side were able to show their quality with a well earned three points.  Herne Bay move to the bottom of the table but on another day could have had four goals and showed enough spirit to suggest they could stay up with some positive results.

There were some positive Wands performances, especially Tanga and Sodje as full backs, Ijaha in midfield and Bassett and Derry up front while Rowley kept another clean sheet.

Cray now go into a big January with three matches against sides in the top 6 starting on Saturday at Canvey Island but do so in a confident frame of mind in the top 2 and already past 40 points for the season.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Jephte Tanga (Freddie Carter, 90+4), Matthew Weaire, Jalen Jones, Harrison Sodje, Sam Wood, David Ijaha (Sam Skeffington, 79), Yahaya Bamba (Josh Allen, 58), Danny Bassett, Nyren Clunis, Tom Derry:  Subs:  Leevi King-Bassett, Sinn’kaye Christie

Booked: Ijaha, Skeffington

Herne Bay: Jordan Perrin, Troy Williams, Laurence Harvey, Dan Johnson, Bode Anidugbe, Che Krabbendam (Rory Smith, 62),  David Ozobia, Kymani Thomas (Eddie Allsopp, 75), Mason Saunders-Henry, Tushaun Walters, Marcel Barrington:  Subs:  Emmanuel Martins, Mike West, Briggs Ojemen

Booked: Barrington

Referee: Adam Merchant

Assistants: Daryl Ann, Philip Jones

Att: 315