Brightlingsea Regent vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 18th March – Match Report
Pics: Ozay Booth
Brightlingsea Regent 0
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers moved up to 6th place in the Isthmian Premier league table after a hard fought victory at bottom of the table Brightlingsea Regent in a game where both sides finished with ten men.
On a soggy afternoon and both sides needing three points at either end of the league table, chances were at a premium in a fairly dull first half with Cray close through Yahaya Bamba, Tom Derry and Dan Bassett.
The second half was marginally better but the game changed just after the hour when Brightlingsea’s Jermaine Anderson was sent off for a second yellow card. The home side came close when Suleyman Zuhdu saw a shot pushed out well by Shaun Rowley and Bradley Russell shot just wide.
Cray though bided their time and went ahead in the 82nd minute when following a corner down the right, Sam Wood’s cross was helped on by Matt Weaire and the ball was only half cleared to Destiny Oladipo who scored his second goal in two games off the bench.
There was still time for late drama when Rowley was sent off for handling the ball outside his area and despite Anthony Cook going in goal for the remaining minutes Cray held firm for a third successive win and back to back clean sheets.
Cray had made a good start to March with wins against Bowers & Pitsea and Potters Bar Town and for the visit to Brightlingsea Regent Wands boss Neil Smith named an unchanged side to last Saturday. On the bench was recent loan signing from Bromley, Marcus Sablier.
Brightlingsea who are bottom of the table and had lost the previous six matches were unchanged from the side which were beaten 0-2 at Lewes on Tuesday night.
The game began with Cray edging possession and created the first opening of the match in the sixth minute when down the left Yahaya Bamba broke into the area but fired over at the near post and then Tom Derry saw an effort deflected behind for a corner. For Brightlingsea, Jermaine Anderson sent a good ball across from the right which went away from goal.
Brightlingsea doggedly hung in the game with Cray unable to break them down and the game became a scrappy affair encapsulated by a booking for Bamba and Regent’s Charlie Durling in the 28th minute for a touch of grappling. Shortly after Anderson received a yellow card as the game became a little tetchy which probably suited the home side.
The game picked up in the last ten minutes of the half. Firstly, Durling tested Shaun Rowley with a low shot from outside the box which was well held.
Then David Ijaha found Tom Derry who turned and fired in a shot which perhaps lacked great power which was saved by Charlie Turner. Then a good pass from midfield found Derry down the right of the area who was just taken too wide by Turner and his short ball across was turned wide by Bamba.
The last chance of the half came to Cray in added on time when down the left Dan Bassett cut into the area but drove a cross-shot wide of the right post.
The second half began in a similar stop-start fashion and for the Wands Anthony Cook blazed a shot well wide of goal.
Chances remained at a premium and Destiny Oladipo and Marcus Sablier were introduced off the bench to try and open up the game.
In the 62nd minute Brightlingsea who had looked pretty secure at the back were reduced to ten men when Anderson picked up a second yellow card for a sturdy challenge on Harrison Sodje.
Cray looked to up the tempo and Nyren Clunis was denied a shooting chance by a fine tackle by Jake Thompson and following up Sam Wood saw a well struck drive blocked.
Despite being down to ten men Regent looked more dangerous in attack a man down and came close when substitute Suleyman Zehdu hit a crisp shot which was well pushed out by Shaun Rowley. Then shortly after George Russell down the right curled a shot just wide of the left post.
Cray came closest yet to scoring when from a free kick down the left, Sam Wood’s ball into the six yard box was headed wide of the right post by Jalen Jones.
The game looked to be continuing on to a scrappy finish until the 82nd minute when the deadlock was broken. The Wands won a corner down the right and Wood’s ball across was helped on by Matt Weaire and via a Regent defender the ball came to Oladipo who casually placed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net for his second goal in two appearances.
Cray with the man advantage looked to take control of the game and Oladipo set up Wood for a shot well wide of goal.
The Wands looked to be coasting to a win but there was late drama in added on time when a back pass was handled outside the area by Rowley before a forward could get to the ball and was shown a red card.
With Anthony Cook in goal from the free kick awarded, Zuhdu’s effort was blocked by the wall and came to Tevan Allen whose drive was deflected behind for a corner. From the corner down the right to the far post from Allen the ball was headed over by Zack Littlejohn and the final whistle sounded shortly after.
In many ways a draw was probably not a good result for either side so important for Cray to push on for the win and although not at their best won the match to move up to 6th on 60 points, three points behind Enfield Town in 5th place. Hornchurch lead the table on 73 points three ahead of Bishop’s Stortford and Aveley with Canvey Island in 4th place on 65 points and Enfield Town on 63 points. Brightlingsea worked very hard to arrest their recent run but with six games remaining are thirteen points behind 18th placed Kingstonian and probably have to win at least five of those games to achieve a great escape from relegation.
Cray meanwhile are still very much in with a chance for promotion from the Isthmian Premier for the first time and next Saturday entertain 8th placed Horsham in a key game in the playoff race as the season nears its final month.
Brightlingsea Regent: Charlie Turner, Andy George (Suleyman Zuhdu, 55), Henry Day, Charlie Durling, Jake Thompson, Zack Littlejohn, Dominic Locke (Luke Skinner, 88), Bradley Russell, Samuel Jeremiah, Tevan Allen, Jermaine Anderson: Subs: Byron Hatch, Archibald Herbert
Sent Off: Anderson 62
Booked: Durling 28, Anderson 33
Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Cook, Matt Weaire, Jalen Jones, Harrison Sodje, David Ijaha, Sam Wood, Nyren Clunis, Yahaya Bamba (Dajon Golding, 74), Dan Bassett (Marcus Sablier, 58), Tom Derry (Destiny Oladipo, 57): Subs: Rio Campbell, Jephte Tanga.
Sent Off: Rowley 90+4
Booked: Bamba 28
Referee: Paul Stratton
Assistants: Joshua Evans, Callum Dorking