Canvey Island v Cray Wanderers

FA Cup 4QR, Saturday 24th October, 2020

Canvey Island                                                          3

Kouassi 2, 10, Hubble 22

Cray Wanderers                                                      2

Taylor 60 (p), Lewis 67

Cray Wanderers attempt to reach the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the first time came to an end at a grey, blustery and very soggy afternoon at Canvey Island as the Essex side got off to a flyer with three goals in the opening quarter of the game and despite a stirring Wands fightback in the second half held on to take their place in Monday’s draw.

On a day perhaps that could have been spoiled by the conditions this was a thrilling game with Isthmian North Canvey Island scoring twice in the opening ten minutes with two fine finishes from Evans Kouassi.  Despite some Cray pressure a twenty five yard strike from Conor Hubble put Canvey in command and with the wind in their favour in the opening half after just 22 minutes. 

The second half though saw a Cray Wanderers siege for large parts on the Canvey goal and a Joe Taylor penalty on the hour and a thunderous strike from Lee Lewis gave Cray hope with still a quarter of the game to go.  Cray were twice denied a leveller by two fine saves from Bobby Mason to thwart Bradley Pritchard and Taylor and although Cray piled on pressure, Canvey held on to win and end Cray’s FA Cup hopes for another season.

From the side which won well at Haringey Borough last Saturday there were a couple of changes to the starting lineup. With Ben Mundele injured, Lee Lewis came as right back and Jason Banton returned following injury in place of Jerome Federico.  Lewis Carey was making his 50th appearance for the Wands in goal.

With both sides having their midweek games postponed and a sellout 400 crowd in attendance this had the look of being perhaps the tie of the round and from the first bell it didn’t take long for the first punches to be landed.  Usually in this season’s FA Cup adventure, it was Cray that got off to a fast start but here Canvey caught Cray cold after just two minutes when down the middle, Elliott Ronto strode forward and played the ball down the left to Evans Kouassi who cut into the area and saw his shot possibly deflected go past Lewis Carey and it was 1-0 to the Islanders.

This had the look of being a high scoring game as shortly after Jason Banton fired over the top while at the other end the impressive Conor Hubble found Tobi Joseph down the left and drove his cross-shot wide of goal.

Cray almost drew level when Banton’s shot was deflected for a corner and from the right wing cross, Freddie Parker’s ball nodded on by Jay Leader and came to Joe Taylor whose shot was saved by the boot of Bobby Mason.

This was all in the first ten minutes and then  Canvey went two nil up when Mitchell Nelson’s ball forward was intercepted by Kouassi who ran on, took the ball round Carey and fired into the top left hand corner of the net.

From here Cray really needed to hit back quickly despite the wind not being in their favour and did almost score in the 13th minute when Banton’s shot looked to be going wide but Mason pushed the ball on to the left post and behind for a corner.  From the corner, Parker’s ball came to Banton and his rasping drive just shaved the crossbar from the edge of the area.

The game was flying at a nippy pace and for Canvey Joseph saw a shot blocked and for Cray, Rhys Murrell-Williamson found Banton whose drive was deflected off Harrison Chatting for a corner.

However, in the 22nd minute with Cray having their best spell Canvey scored a third goal when Kouassi down the left found Hubble, who broke forward and from almost twenty five yards let fly with a screamer which crashed into the top left hand corner to make it 3-0 and already looking like a mountain to climb for Cray.

Still Cray looked to score and Murrell-Williamson saw a shot deflected from a corner from which Canvey almost scored a fourth on the break but Joseph charged into the area but was denied a goal by a fine blocked save by Carey.

Another Cray shot this time from Taylor from 12 yards was deflected behind as Canvey were defending well but perhaps in reality should have scored a fourth when Hubble did well again cutting in from the left and found Kouassi on a hat-trick who held the ball up well turned but fired wide of the right post.

Before half time, Parker’s shot was deflected through to Mason in the Canvey goal and then from a corner, Parker’s cross was nodded off target and wide of the left post by Mitchell Nelson.

For Canvey, Hubble fired just wide but the last chance of the half fell to Cray when Lee Lewis and Murrell-Williamson combined down the left and the cross to the far post to Taylor saw a looping effort go just wide.

The second half began with the 4pm forecasted rain arriving and the sight of my sodden note pad with missing pages shows a half played in not only wet conditions but also very blowy indeed and with Cray chasing a three goal deficit.

Four minutes into the second half the game was almost completely put to bed when Joseph took advantage of a Cray mistake at the back and seemed destined to score but screwed his shot wide of the right post.

Cray though were building up a fair bit of pressure in the opening minutes of the second half without quite being able to fashion a shot on goal.  Cray though won an enormous amount of corners in the second half and Jason Banton saw a shot deflected for a corner and from the right, Murrell-Williamson’s ball to the near post was knocked behind by Ben Sampayo.  Then Tom Carlse found Bradley Pritchard who set up Taylor who drove the ball across and deflected wide of the left post.

On the hour though, Cray were given a foothold in the match when down the left, Carlse found Banton who drove a ball into the box which was charged down by the hand of Dan Humphreys for the award of a penalty.   From the spot, Taylor thumped the ball home for his first in five matches and give Cray half an hour still to save the tie.

Cray now had their tails up and a Parker corner down the left towards the far post was pushed away for another corner by Mason.

Then in the 67th minute completely out of nothing, Lee Lewis picked the ball up, down the right, strode forward and close to 30 yards from goal hit a stunning strike which beat Mason at his near post and made it 3-2 and the comeback looked almost definitely on.

Now Cray were laying siege to the Canvey goal. Firstly, Parker found space outside the area and his shot was pushed out by Mason and then Pritchard set up Murrell-Williamson who shot over the top.  Then down the left Carlse was unlucky to see his cross-shot go across goal and no-one to apply a finish.

The Wands were unlucky when Pritchard was set up by Parker and his shot from just outside the area was turned round the post brilliantly by Mason.

Then Mason made perhaps the save of the match when Lewis found Parker and his ball across came to Taylor, who turned a defender inside the box and his goalbound shot was met a terrific one-handed stop by the keeper and it stayed 3-2.

Still Cray pushed as the game entered its final ten minutes and Parker saw as shot deflected behind and then Banton found Murrell-Williamson down the left and his ball across to Parker saw his shot blocked.

Then Murrell-Williamson cut in from the right and his shot took a looping deflection which took the ball wide of the left post.  Then Carlse saw a shot from distance spilled by Mason and then claimed at the second attempt.

With a couple of minutes to go Canvey managed to get respite and get the ball up the pitch and could have sealed the game twice in as many minutes.  First, Harrison Chatting picked up a stray Cray pass and saw his shot patted down by Carey.

Then Joseph won the ball and played in Chatting who with Carey to beat stroked the ball past the right post and behind.

There was still time for Cray to almost level when Tom Phipp hit a shot from almost 35 yards which Mason spilled but did well to follow up as Charlie Allen looked to score and conceded a corner.

With four minutes of injury time, Cray won another three corners in the final stages but couldn’t find a goal with the nearest being Pritchard’s blocked shot from 12 yards.

In the end though despite much endeavour and considerable effort in the second half, Canvey held on to win and had to dig very deep at times not only with the conditions but the whirlwind of Cray attacks coming their way and knew they had got through a battle.

If you were a neutral this was a tremendous cup tie, a clash of styles perhaps, lots of commitment but never dirty, full blooded, desire, players throwing bodies on the line and a great advertisement for the competition.  Looking at it with my Cray hat on, extremely gutted at the end for the team and management as this promised to be the year Cray reached the holy grail of the 1st Round but wasn’t to be on this occasion but many great highlights to look back on in the cup run.  The team still has much to play for in the league with Merstham at home on Wednesday and the FA Trophy next weekend.  This could still be a very special season for Cray Wanderers.    

Canvey Island:  Bobby Mason, Dan Humphreys, Ben Sampayo, Jamie Salmon, Michael Finneran, Mason Hall, Elliott Ronto, Conor Hubble, Tobi Joseph, Harrison Chatting, Evan Kouassi (Rob Girdlestone, 77): Subs:  Jey Siva, Cameron Harris, Rob Lacey, Tom Blackwell, Henry Sims

Cray Wanderers:     Lewis Carey, Lee Lewis, Mitchell Nelson, Jay Leader (Charlie Allen, 87), Tom Carlse, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Tom Phipp, Bradley Pritchard, Jason Banton, Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor:  Subs: Jerome Federico, Kyron Richards, Martin Onoabaghbe, Herson Rodrigues Alves, Roman Hall

Booked:         Pritchard

Att:  400