Cray Wanderers vs Folkestone Invicta – Isthmian Premier, Wednesday 15th February – Match Repo

Cray Wanderers                        0

Folkestone Invicta                    0

Pics:  Ozay Booth – @okb_geek

Cray Wanderers moved back into 5th place in the Isthmian Premier but had to be content with a point following a goalless draw against Folkestone Invicta at Hayes Lane.

Despite the lack of goals there was plenty of endeavour from both sides with Folkestone having the lion’s share of the best and three times hit the woodwork through Ibrahim Olutade, Scott Heard and Iran Jackson and had other chances in the game to score.  Cray struggled to get going in the first half attacking wise but improved after the break and Dan Bassett saw a shot possibly touched onto the crossbar and Tom Derry with an open goal set up Yahaya Bamba who miscued a shot wide, Bassett fired over and Bailey Akehurst drove a free kick wide but in the end the match finished in the first goalless draw for the Wands at home this season.

Cray were looking to build on the win against Carshalton Athletic on Saturday and Neil Smith was able to name an unchanged side for the visit of Folkestone Invicta.  For the visitors there was just one change to the starting lineup which beat Horsham at the weekend with Louis Collins coming in for Nathan Green.

I think even the most blinkered Cray Wanderers fan would admit that Folkestone were the better side in the first half with Cray not really getting going until late in the half and Invicta should really have been ahead at the break.

After a cagey first ten minutes with Invicta shading possession, Louis Colins found space down the left but his effort was blocked and the visitors had the first real opening in the 14th minute when the lively Ira Jackson down the right saw his cross-shot pushed out by Shaun Rowley and the ball fell to Collins whose effort was blocked.

Two minutes later Jackson fired over from outside the area and in the 22nd minute, Robbie Dolan put over a cross down the right which was met on the half volley by Ian Draycott from seven yards but was held by Rowley.  For Cray an Anthony Cook free kick came back off the defensive wall.  Then for Folkestone, Scott Heard set up Jackson for a shot that was deflected to Rowley.

Just after the half hour Folkestone were unfortunate not to go ahead when Jackson down the right from the byline put over a cross for Ibrahim Olutade who saw his driven shot crash back off the underside of the crossbar and cleared away.

Five minutes before half time, Heard played a pass through to Olutade down the left who broke into the area and from a tight angle saw his effort blocked behind by Rowley for a corner.

In the 43rd minute Cray had their first real serious threat on the Invicta goal when Freddie Carter who had another great game at the back broke forward and found Yahaya Bamba for a shot from just outside the area which was saved by Patrick Ohman. 

At half time though there were no goals and Cray needed to find more of a spark to look to break the deadlock.

HT:  0-0 

The second half was a much more livelier affair and went end to end until the last ten minutes with Cray unlucky not to score two minutes after the restart when Dan Bassett close to 25 yards out saw a goalbound shot thud against the angle of post and crossbar and possibly via the fingertips of Ohman.

Then Cray were presented with a chance when Ohman looking to clear gave the ball to Tom Derry who from distance was presented with an open goal but elected to pass to Bamba who misconnected with his shot and went well across goal.

Folkestone though were still positive going forward and Draycott set up Olutade down the left of the area with space to shoot but perhaps should have done better than shoot straight at Rowley.

Two minutes later Olutade became provider setting up Scott Heard who shot over the bar, then Collins down the right saw his cross bundled behind for a corner by Rowley.

Then for Cray, Derry took advantage of a stumble at the back by Ian Gayle and set up Bamba for a shot that was blocked before Derry was replaced by Dajon Golding in the 64th minute.

Still it was Folkestone who were posing the bigger threat and Heard down the right was unlucky to see his attempted cross swerve and hit the top of the left post.  For Cray, an Akehurst free kick played into the area was punched away by Ohman.

Going into the last 20 minutes, Invicta seemed to be playing with more urgency, perhaps needing the three points that bit more and Jackson cut inside from the right and shot wide, then made a run forward and set up Heard for a shot deflected to Rowley.

Cray came close when Bamba did well to keep the ball in play down the left and put over a cross which eventually came to Bassett who shot over the top.

A minute later, Invicta hit the woodwork for the third time and again it was Jackson who cut inside from the right and his attempted near post shot hit the base of the right post.

Fifteen minutes from time, Cray were awarded a free kick to the left of the area and Akehurst’s strike went just wide of the left post brushing the side netting.

After a lot of quality, quick play the game began to just drift going into the last ten minutes and both defences were on top.  The last chance of the game came in injury time for Folkestone who won a corner down the right and Heard’s cross came to Ian Gayle who hooked a shot over the bar.

In the end the match finished goalless and definitely a decent enough watch with perhaps Folkestone mystified why they didn’t come away with three points on chances created while Cray were nowhere near their best but improved considerably after the break.  

The point moves Cray back into 5th place on 51 points, level on points with Canvey Island and ahead on goal difference  Folkestone are 12th on 43 points and are capable especially with their home form of moving up the table.

For their part, Cray Wanderers have been able to eek out points when not playing at their best and showed their character especially defensively to keep out a lively side with four quality attackers and again Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter and the two full backs, Jephte Tanga and Bailey Akehurst played well and Shaun Rowley was a steady assurance in goal and was in the right place at the right time when called upon to make saves.

Cray next head to 8th placed Hastings United on Saturday who are three points behind the Wands and will be another tough test of their promotion credentials.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Jephte Tanga, Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter, Bailey Akehurst, David Ijaha, Sam Wood (Sam Skeffington, 81), Anthony Cook, Yahaya Bamba, Danny Bassett (Nyren Clunis, 90+1), Tom Derry (Dajon Golding, 64):  Subs:  Matthew Weaire, Leevi King-Bassett

Booked: Tanga 58

Folkestone Invicta: Patrick Ohman, Robbie Dolan, Ian Gayle, Callum Davies, James Rogers, Scott Heard, Ronnie Dolan (Josh Vincent, 74),  Louis Collins, Ibrahim Olutade, Ian Draycott, Ira Jackson:  Subs:  Lenny Atherton, Nathan Green, Matt Newman, Joe Coleman

Booked: Jackson 80

Referee: Craig Barnett

Assistants: Lewis Moore, Leigh Ballinger

Att: 229