Bowers & Pitsea vs Cray Wanderers – Match Report
Isthmian League Premier – Saturday 11th January, 2020
Bowers & Pitsea 1
Warner 32 pen
Cray Wanderers 2
Taylor 64, Murrell-Williamson 89
Cray Wanderers made it two away wins to start 2020 as a first ever visit to Bowers & Pitsea saw a come from behind victory. Second half goals from Joe Taylor and a last minute debut strike from Rhys Murrell-Williamson completed a comeback after Bradley Warner gave Bowers a first half lead from the penalty spot. This completed a league double for last season’s Isthmian South-East Champions vs the North Champions.
Both teams had been in decent form and this was a hard fought game with two contrasting styles of play but always engaging with Cray showing good resolve and determination to turn the game around after the home side had the better of the opening 45 minutes.
The Wands who won at Margate on New Year’s Day and then drew at home to Wingate & Finchley unveiled a very recent new signing with winger, Rhys Murrell-Williamson arriving from Braintree Town and came into the side for Lee Lewis.
Bowers & Pitsea won 3-1 at Merstham on Tuesday night which followed a 2-2 draw at Bishop’s Stortford and the Isthmian North champions looked a confident side at the start of the game which was manager Rob Small’s 300th game in charge and had former Wand Ade Osifuwa in the starting lineup.
From the start on a grey and breezy afternoon this was always going to be a tough assignment for Cray but the Wands started well and had a fair amount of the ball but the home defence held firm. Cray were a bit unfortunate though not to take the lead when a free kick out on the right from Bradley Pritchard was hoisted into the box and Mitchell Nelson rose up with Lewis Manor who got a touch to turn the ball into his own net but was disallowed for a foul by Nelson.
Then from a free kick out on right, Murrell-Williamson curled a free kick round the wall but was comfortably held by Callum Chafer.
The best early chance of the game though fell to Bowers & Pitsea when a ball from out on the left from Tom Stephen found Bradley Warner who from just inside the area seemed to scuff his shot and Lewis Carey was able to save. Then an effort from distance from Warner was deflected through to Carey.
Cray then had a half opening when the ball came to Joel Rollinson who from 25yards saw his well struck shot which forced Chafer to get down to save.
For Bowers & Pitsea, Warner was a real threat in the first half and the focal point of the home side’s attack and in the 32nd minute opened the scoring when he worked his way down the left of the area, and was adjudged to have been brought down by Nelson for the award of a penalty which was a touch soft but it was good, clever play by Warner in the buildup. From the spot, Warner stroked home his 15th goal of the season.
Bowers & Pitsea had their tails up then and shortly after, a cross into the box was punched away by Carey and came to Warner who fired over the bar.
Cray were finding chances harder to come by although from a throw in down the left, Tom Murphy’s ball came to Barney Williams who fired a shot over the angle of post and crossbar. The last opportunity of the half came to Bowers & Pitsea with James Thomas’s strike being held by Carey.
The second half started with Charlie Allen coming on for Cray in place of Tom Murphy as Cray looked to get back into the match.
Bowers & Pitsea were still playing well and another strike from Warner from just outside the area was well claimed by Carey. Then Bowers had a good chance when a fine ball out on the right from Manor found substitute Quentin Monville who broke into the area and flashed a shot just across goal and wide.
Cray though were beginning to up their game and Rollinson won the ball in midfield and found Tom Phipp who hit a shot from 25 yards which flashed wide of the left post.
Then in the 64th minute Cray drew level with another terrific piece of finishing from Taylor who hadn’t had many chances in the game but received a fine pass from Rollinson from the right touchline and from the edge of the six yard box lifted the ball into the bottom left corner for his 27th goal of the season.
A couple of minutes later, Cray almost went in front when again down the right, Rollinson from just inside the box hit a fierce shot which was met by a terrific save from Chafer at his near post.
The game was now developing into a fine contest after the rather attritional first half and Bowers had a great chance to get back in front when Warner dispossessed Nelson and broke forward and seemed certain to score but was denied by a superb diving save from Carey to keep the scores all tied.
Cray as in most of the league games this season ended the game strongly and almost went in front when Nelson’s ball forward found Taylor who hit a sweet volley which went just over from 14 yards.
Then from a corner down the right, Pritchard’s ball to the far post was headed wide by Nelson under pressure from Callum Healy.
It was looking like it might be a draw but the character of the Wands shone through and went in front with a minute to go with a superb individual goal from Murrell-Willamson who took on Osifuwa and burst down the left and from the edge of the area hooked a clinically taken shot wide of Chafer and into the bottom right corner of the net.
With four minutes of added on time, Cray were able to see out the final moments well and pick up a big and well earned three points. These are the wins that mean so much to any successful side and although Cray hadn’t at times been at their fluent best worked hard to turn things round and in the end probably merited the victory against a strong side who will be hard to beat during the remainder of their first ever season at this level. The full games for Williams and Phipp were a real bonus too while Lewis Carey continued his fine recent form, Charlie Allen made a difference off the bench and Bradley Pritchard was excellent in the midfield.
Cray remain in 6th place in the league table, level on points with Hornchurch on 41 points and the two sides meet on Wednesday night which should be a great occasion under the lights at Hayes Lane.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Tom Phipp, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Murphy (Charlie Allen, H/T), Joel Rollinson, Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Lee Lewis, 90), Joe Taylor: Subs: Jerome Federico, Karl Dent, Geofrey Okonkwo
Booked: Williams, Phipp
Bowers & Pitsea: Callum Chafer, Tom Hine, Tom Stephen, Ade Osifuwa, Lewis Manor (Capt), Callum Leahy, Max Cornhill (Quentin Monville, 52), Ben Sartain, James Thomas (Dan Trendall, 90), Bradley Warner, Jamie Dicks: Subs: Sammy Collins, Joe Gardner, Tyrone Baker
Booked: Cornhill, Monville
Referee: Craig Pullen
Assistants: Peter Wilson, Gary Baker
Attendance – 154