Ryman League Division One North: 6/2/16
Redbridge 2 Portway 26, Coxi-Sebastfao 63
Cray Wanderers 4 Hunt 56, 82, Duckworth 59, 77
The Wands made a welcome return to winning ways as four second half goals turned around a half time deficit against lowly Redbridge. In a game severely affected by the strong wind, the home side with the better of the conditions went ahead before Cray with the wind in their favour hit back with two goals before the hour through Ben Hunt and James Duckworth before Redbridge levelled. However, two goals in the last quarter of an hour, again from Duckworth and Hunt gave Cray breathing space and a valuable three points. The win keeps Cray in fifth place on 64 points and two points behind second placed Harlow Town.
Tony Russell named an unchanged side from last Saturday’s game with Heybridge with new signings, experienced striker, Jeff Goulding and winger Jamie Mascoll on the bench.
It was evident from the start that the blustery wind would play a part in the game and had there been heavy rain the match would probably have been unplayable. To their credit both teams started quite brightly and looked to try and get the ball down and play. The first opening came to Cray in the fourth minute when Leigh Bremner found space outside the box and fired a shot over the crossbar.
At the other end, the Motormen posed a threat down the left through Reside Coxi-Sebastfao and the winger was put through but hurriedly shot wide as Nick Blue advanced from goal.
Cray were a little unlucky on a couple of occasions not to score following great crosses into the area which just needed a touch to guide the ball home. Firstly, Ben Hunt down the right put a great ball into the box which James Duckworth just narrowly failed to make contact with and the keeper, Callum Chafer did well to claim at the second attempt. Then Hunt down the left swept another great cross which just evaded the onrushing Duckworth.
Then just before the twenty minute mark, Duckworth shot well wide as Cray continued to press. Redbridge threatened following a short corner routine, Paulius Ditkevius with time and space rather wildly lashed a shot wide of goal.
The home side were just beginning to impose themselves in the game and Coxi-Sebastfao again showing good pace and skill cut in from the left but again his finish was lacking and the ball went wide.
Two minutes later, Redbridge took the lead with the possibly the scrappiest goal Cray will concede this season. A ball into the box from Joe Gent caused confusion at the back and Jay Leader deflected the ball back towards goal and as Blue came to claim the ball seemed to come lose from his grasp and Charlie Portway following up tucked the ball home.
This seemed to give Redbridge a lift and Ditkevius twice fired over the top from twenty yards before Cray created their best chance of the half. Karl Dent who was having a good game in the midfield slipped Duckworth through and advanced toward goal but Chafer made a very good stop to turn away his well struck shot.
As the half drew to a close, Dent had a shot on goal deflected which was claimed by Chafer and Leader shot wide of the left post from Dent’s pass. Despite leading at the break you wondered whether Redbridge had taken full advantage of the conditions in their favour.
Half Time: 1-0
The start of the second half saw Cray lay siege to the Redbridge goal and within the first few minutes of the second half came close to scoring three times.
First Bremner had a shot blocked and then Grant Basey put over a great cross shot which Chafer did well to turn aside. Then Hunt played in Bremner who couldn’t keep his shot down and the ball went over the top.
Cray’s pressure was starting to tell and in the 56th minute, the Wands were deservedly level when Duckworth’s incisive ball through to Hunt was tucked away superbly for his seventh goal for Cray since his return to the club in November.
Three minutes with Cray looking buoyant went in front with a goal that Duckworth merited for his all action display. Working his way into the box down the left he fired in a shot which hit centre half Steve Good in the chest. As Redbridge struggled to clear, Duckworth now down the right curled in a shot which went in off the post to give Cray the lead.
With Cray looking in control, Hunt came close again when fed by substitute Jamie Mascoll and his stinging drive was palmed away well by Chafer.
What wasn’t expected considering how little of the ball Redbridge had at the start of the second half was for the Motormen to score again. They did so in the 63rd minute with a goal started and finished by Coxi-Sebastfao. Making a run from just inside his own half he exchanged passes with Portway before squeezing his shot into the net from ten yards to make it 2-2.
The two teams had put in such a good effort despite the wind but the game was just starting to deteriorate as a spectacle when Cray went back in front in the 77th minute with a goal good enough to bring any game to life.
Cray were awarded a free kick just on the left of the penalty area. Duckworth stepped up to take the set piece and after just a short run up curled home a tremendous strike which flew into the top corner and just reward for a tremendous piece of skill. Duckworth then fired over as Cray started once again to take a grip of the game.
In the 82nd minute, Cray put daylight between the teams with a fourth and deciding goal. This stemmed from a Redbridge free kick out on the right which Portway floated in and Blue punched the ball away and fell to Duckworth who sped away and then with an accurate through ball found Hunt in good space down the right who with Chafer advancing rolled the ball past him for a clinical finish.
Cray played out the last few minutes with Aryan Tajbakhsh testing Chafer with a stinging shot and in the end the Wands had shown great quality in trying conditions to get the show back on the road with three points.
It was a scrappy victory at Redbridge back in March last season that was the catalyst for the great escape to come. With AFC Sudbury twelve points clear of Cray it may be a bit much to ask to claim the championship but certainly the race for the playoffs continues apace and a similar winning run to last season would secure end of season activity for Cray.
Cray are next in action on Saturday, 13th February when they entertain Dereham Town with a 3pm kick off.
Cray: Nick Blue, Adetayo Osifuwa, Grant Basey, Jay Leader, Ben Payne, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Aryan Tajbakhsh, 72), Ben Hunt (Jeff Goulding, 82), James Duckworth, Leigh Bremner (Jamie Mascoll, 61) : Subs: Peter Smith, Dean Carpenter
Redbridge: Callum Chafer, Charlie Parish, Emmanuel Sackey, Timi Dorgu (Capt.), Stephen Good, Rigers Kabashi, Joe Gent (Carlos Espirito-Santo, 81), Paulius Ditkevius (Berkcan Belindir, 88), Ayomide Adeboxejo, Charlie Portway, Reside Coxi-Sebastfao (Harry Prince, 81): Subs: William Drake, Jordan Cornelius