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Brightlingsea Regent vs. Cray Wanderers – BetVictor Isthmian Premier – Saturday 16th November, 2019  

Brightlingsea Regent                                   0

Cray Wanderers                                            2

Taylor 24, 26 pen

 Cray Wanderers continued their impressive recent form with a professional performance to win at Brightlingsea Regent to move up into 3rd place in the Isthmian Premier table.  A brace of goals in two minutes from Joe Taylor in the first half made it seven without defeat in the league and remain unbeaten away from home in the league this season.

Cray were the dominant force in the first half and came close to scoring through Bradley Pritchard and Lee Lewis in the first quarter of an hour.  A goal was on the cards and came in the 24th minute when Taylor turned the ball in from close range following up Jay Leader’s header.  Two minutes later, Ben Mundele was upended in the area by Fahad Nazor and Taylor stroked home his 21st goal of the season from the spot.  Brightlingsea’s chances of a comeback were dashed when Nazor was sent off in the 58th minute and Cray saw out the remainder of the game.

The Wands were looking for a third straight win following wins at home to Cheshunt and at Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday night.  From the side which started at Wingate & Finchley, Ben Mundele came in for Andre Coker and was the only change in lineup.

On a murky but dry afternoon on the Essex coast Cray began the game in enterprising fashion and Brightlingsea without a win in eight in the league were having a hard time getting possession of the ball and keeping it.  Cray won a couple of early corners and then in the eighth minute created their first opening of the game when Barney Williams found Joel Rollinson down the right of the area who found Bradley Pritchard who pulled a shot wide of the left post from 14 yards.

The Wands continued to play the ball around impressively and came close again in the 13th minute when Lee Lewis found space to fire in a shot from outside the area which keeper Charlie Turner did well to push behind for a corner.  Then good movement down the left saw a Tom Carlse ball into the area helped on by Jay Leader and Charlie Allen to Joe Taylor who saw a shot blocked by Matt Cripps.

Cray just needed a goal to have something to show for their dominance and it came in the 24th minute when from a free kick down the left, Pritchard floated an accurate ball to the far post where Leader arrived to divert a header into the six yard box where Taylor was on hand for a poachers goal from three yards.

Two minutes later, Cray went two nil up when Ben Mundele received the ball just outside the area and his run into the box saw him upended by Fahad Nazor.  From the spot, Taylor calmly slotted his 21st goal of the season of an impressive campaign.

Before half time, Brightlingsea looked to threaten down the right and Reece Dobson’s ball into the box was claimed by Lewis Carey.  Then at the other end some neat Cray passing saw Rollinson and Taylor combine to set up Mundele but his shot was blocked inside the area.

In the final action of a half which flew by very quickly, Brightlingsea looked to reduce the arrears when down the right Jake Turner found Dobson who turned inside the area and his shot was comfortably held by Carey.  Then for Cray, Pritchard, Rollinson and Taylor looked to set up Allen whose shot inside the area was hit off target.

Half Time: 0-2

The second half started with Cray making a change with Charles Etumnu coming on in midfield for Lee Lewis and once again were on the front foot early on.

Firstly, Mundele made a run forward down the left and his shot was blocked and went behind for a corner.  From the corner, Pritchard’s cross to the far post was met again by Leader and his header was cleared almost off the line and came to Mitchell Nelson but turned the ball wide.  Then down the right, Williams found Taylor who from a tight angle fired over but Cray were looking very assured.

Any hopes that Brightlingsea had of getting back into the game were dealt a blow in the 58th minute when Nazor was sent off when Mundele was brought down and the full back kicked the ball towards a prone Mundele’s head and was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.

This seemed to spur the ten men for the last half hour as they played with a bit more intensity but Cray perhaps understandably were winding the game down and played with great discipline.

Cray looked to threaten and Pritchard who had a great game alongside Allen in midfield saw a shot blocked inside the area and then Mundele found Taylor, seeking his second hat-trick in three games but his shot was held by Turner.

The nearest the home side came to scoring came in the 81st minute when from a free kick, Jake Turner played a ball into the area and a smart flicked header from Billy Hunt forced Carey to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.   From the corner, the ball came out to Jake Could and his cross was fired over by Hunt.

Cray had done more than enough to win the game and had wound down the second half efficiently and secured three straight wins to maintain their early playoff push and moved above Hornchurch into third place on 31 points.  This was a very solid display from Cray and there were many good performances all over the pitch and especially from the back four who were solid as a rock and gave little away.  Taylor also looked sharp and Rollinson looks a real talent out on the right.

Tony Russell’s side now have a brief break with no match next weekend due to Hornchurch being in the FA Trophy and resume on 30th November with a mouthwatering game at Carshalton Athletic.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Barney Williams, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lee Lewis (Charles Etumnu, H/T), Bradley Pritchard, Charlie Allen, Ben Mundele, Joel Rollinson (Andre Coker, 78), Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Tom Murphy, Geofrey Okonkwo, Grant Hall

Booked:          Carlse

Brightlingsea: Charlie Turner, Fahad Nazor, Jake Gould, Pip Boyland, George Forrest, Matt Cripps (Capt.), Romario Dunne, Jake Turner, Billy Hunt, George Bugg (Yasseir Nazora, 19), Reece Dobson (Lamell Howell, 61): Subs:  Josh Gould, Morisi Gelashvili, Elliott Johnson

Sent Off:         Nazor 58

Booked:          Cripps

 Referee:          George Byrne

Assistant Referees: John Hyde, George Lowe

Attendance – 157