Cray Wanderers vs Carshalton Athletic – Isthmian Premier, Saturday 11th February – Match Report

Cray Wanderers                                        2

Danny Bassett 26, Tom Derry 35

Carshalton Athletic                                  1

Matthew Vigor 11

Pics:  Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers moved back into the playoff positions in the Isthmian Premier after a come from behind victory against Carshalton Athletic at Hayes Lane.  

Both sides were looking to get back to winning ways with Cray two and Carshalton three games without a win and it was a match bristling with energy and competitive edge especially in the first half which saw the lead change hands. Carshalton began impressively and led through Matthew Vigor’s well placed strike in the 11th minute.  Cray though worked their way into the match and drew level in the 26th minute when ex-Robin Dan Bassett scored his 12th goal of the season when he turned just outside the area and hit a crisp strike wide of Dan Bracken in the Carshalton goal.

In the 35th minute Cray took the lead when Yahaya Bamba showed exceptional pace down the left and from close to the byline put over a cross to the near post for Tom Derry to score his 10th goal of the season for Cray to lead 2-1 at the break.  The second half was more of a tense struggle but both teams had opportunities to score with Cray indebted to Freddie Carter for making telling clearances off the line to deny Tom Beere and Vigor goals and also two great blocks in the dying minutes of the game from Alexander Akrofi and Calvin Ekpiteta as Cray hung on for the win.

The Wands were looking to bounce back from the 0-1 defeat at Wingate & Finchley last Saturday and for the first home win since 2nd January.  From the side which started last Saturday there was one change to the starting lineup with Sam Wood coming in for Dajon Golding.  

Carshalton were without a win in three games and from the side beaten at home by Canvey Island last Saturday there was also one change with Oliver Cook in for Alexander Akrofi.

Carshalton began the match on the front foot and had the first shooting opportunity when Tom Beere shot over the bar from around 25 yards.   Cray came close in the 7th minute when presented with a free kick down the right of the area and Bailey Akehurst’s strike was deflected behind for a corner.

The Robins continued to look slightly the sharper early on and in the 11th minute went ahead when the Wands were caught in possession down the right of the penalty area and Crossley Lema put the ball across for Matthew Vigor who had the time and space to shoot from just inside the area and past Shaun Rowley into the net. 

The Wands just needed to find their feet at this stage and Carshalton won a corner after that and then Femi Akinwande shot wide on the volley from outside the area.

Cray were just starting to get into the game when an Akehurst corner down the right fizzed across the box with the likes of Tom Derry and Yahaya Bamba unable to get a touch to the cross.  Then Neil Smith’s side created their best chance yet when Bamba found Bassett down the left of the area but his shot was well saved by the feet of Dan Bracken.

In the 24th minute Carshalton had a good chance to go 2-0 up when Beere was found down the left hand side and from just inside the area lofted a shot towards goal which just drifted over the bar.

Two minutes later Cray were level when after a patient buildup the impressive Sam Wood and Anthony Cook combined to set up Bassett who turned to find space to shoot from the edge of the area and placed a shot unerringly past Bracken into the net.

Cray were now beginning to get on top and in the 35th minute turned the game on its head with a high quality goal.  Wood played a pass to Bamba who showed an impressive turn of pace to reach the by line and whip a ball across to the near post for Tom Derry who made no mistake from 3 yards.

Before the break, Bassett cut in from the right and lashed a shot that curled over the bar.  Then for Carshalton Bradley Williams down the right set up Beere who hooked a shot wide of the right post.

HT:  2-1.

In contrast to the first half, the second took a while to really get going and became more of an attritional contest until the last quarter of an hour when the match took off once again

As in the first half Carshalton started the brighter and came close in the 51st minute when after a cross from the left to the far post found Beere who hooked a shot goalwards but Freddie Carter cleared the ball off the line.

Then Akinwande saw a shot blocked inside the area and the ball was eventually cleared away before the game hit a scrappy phase around the hour mark.

Carshalton had a free kick out on the left and the ball hoisted into the area found Oliver Cook whose header across to Kurtis Cumberbatch was met on the  half volley and was held by Shaun Rowley.

The game picked up momentum going into the last twenty minutes and the lively Bamba was brought down just outside the left edge of the area by Oliver Cook and Anthony Cook’s free kick hoisted towards the far post was met by the head of Jalen Jones but was saved by Bracken.

With ten minutes to go Carshalton came close when substitute Alexander Akrofi down the right did well to play a ball across to the far post to Vigor whose header was once again cleared virtually off the line again by Carter.

Seven minutes from time Cray almost put daylight between the teams when Bassett showed great skill to work his way down the right into the area and teed up Derry who was unlucky to be denied by the quick reflexes of Bracken and Bassett’s follow up was blocked behind for a corner.  From the corner the ball came to Sam Skeffington who fired over the top from outside the area.

Anthony Cook made one of his trademark slaloming runs from his own half into midfield and from from almost 25 yards hit a fierce shot which went over the bar.

Cray were looking like seeing out three minutes of added on time but there was a bit more than that and in the dying seconds Carshalton almost grabbed a leveller when the ball came to Akfrofi who was denied by another block by Carter and Calvin Ekpiteta by an effort which Rowley did well to turn away.  

Despite the late scares, Cray held on for a massive three points and moved up into 5th place and on the 50 points mark for the season.  Cray had to show durability to overcome an very iffy start to the game, turned the game around within a 10 minute spell and although couldn’t add to the lead defended very well against a very good Carshalton side who drop down to 9th place but will still be a side with much to say in the later stages of the season.

A note also for the excellent referee Joseph Turnpenny who allowed advantages to be played following fouls and came back to book players and looked to get what could have been a tricky game the ability to flow.

Cray though keep on going and after 30 games are sitting in a good position albeit having played more games along with 2nd place Aveley than other teams around them at least have the points in the bag.  The Wands now move on to the final scheduled midweek match of the season at home to Folkestone Invicta on Wednesday 15th February and another exciting evening awaits.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Jephte Tanga, Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter, Bailey Akehurst, David Ijaha (Sam Skeffington, 76), Sam Wood, Anthony Cook, Yahaya Bamba, Danny Bassett (Nyren Clunis, 89), Tom Derry:  Subs:  Matthew Weaire, Dajon Golding, Leevi King-Bassett

Booked: Ijaha 58, Bamba 64

Carshalton Athletic: Danny Bracken, Crossley Lema, Arthur Lee, Leo Hamblin, Bradley Williams, Oliver Cook, Kurtis Cumberbatch (Alexander Akrofi, 78), Matthew Vigor, Tom Beere, Femi Akinwande, Calvin Ekpiteta:  Subs:  Anton Barnett, Aaron Smith-Joseph, Tommy Bradford

Booked: Cumberbatch 43, Lee 71, Cook 73

Referee:  Joseph Turnpenny

Assistants:  Grant Conway, Alan Steward

Att:  243