Ryman U21 Development League North: 14/3/17
Cleland 50, 87, Smyth 79
Cray Wanderers 1
The Cray Wanderers U21s search for their first away win in the Ryman U21 Development league continues after Cheshunt came back from a goal down at the break to win at the Cheshunt Stadium/
The two teams in the bottom two played a highly committed match with plenty of good quality and some firm tackling which was well handled by the excellent referee. After a high quality first half Cray took the lead a minute before the break through Steven Hollis’ fine header. However, Cheshunt who looked a better side than their league position suggests came back in the second half and drew level five minutes after the restart. They then scored twice in the last eleven minutes to win the game although the final scoreline was harsh on John Paul Collier’s side.
Cray games are rarely dull and this game started in brisk fashion with Cray having the first attempt on goal in the fourth minute with Brent Brojaj firing in a shot from 25 yards which was well fielded by home keeper, Aaron Bull.
Cheshunt threatened particularly down the left hand side and Tariq Bakkali cut in from the left to fire in a cross shot which Sean Law did well to parry away. Then following a free kick on the edge of the area, Jamie Smyth’s shot was blocked by the Cray defensive wall.
For Cray a good, patient buildup down the right saw Steven Hollis set up Nick Wybrow for a shot which curled just wide of the left post.
This was followed by a bit of a let off for Cray when Bakkali again down the left found space to fire in a tremendous strike which crashed against the crossbar. The follow up came out to George Smith but his effort was blocked by Charlie Horbacki. This was followed by another free kick from Smyth which was hit against the Cray wall.
The game was free flowing although there were one or two free kicks given away but the referee neglected to brandish yellow cards and a strong word to the players seemed to suffice. In the 28th minute Smyth took advantage of Cray giving the ball away to fire in a shot from 25 yards which went just over the bar.
The last fifteen minutes of the half saw Cray very much on top and created a number of chances to take the lead.
Firstly, Wybrow fired over the bar and his initial effort was blocked. Then, after a slick passing move Cain Cruz played a ball through to Wybrow who shot just wide of the left post. Two minutes later, Ralique Lawrence hit a shot from distance which was held by Bull.
This was followed by the best chance of the half when Wybrow played in Cruz down the left and as Bull advanced from goal, clipped the ball past him but the ball was cleared off the line by Byron Lal. Following up Hollis crashed a shot into the side netting.
Then down the right, Cruz took advantage of hesitancy by Bull to square the ball to Brojaj who curled a shot just wide and then Hollis fired over the bar.
It seemed that Crays’ efforts in the first half would lead to nothing until a minute before half time, Bull rushed out of goal and collided with Tyrece Scott-Reilly for a free kick out on the right. John Paul Collier, put over a fine ball which was met emphatically by the head of Hollis who from twelve yards powered in a header to give Cray a deserved lead.
They could have extended in added on time when Scott-Riley down the right found himself inside the penalty area but his effort was blocked by Bull.
Half Time: 0-1
The second half was always going to be difficult for Cray to see out the win without some pressure from the home side but they seemed a different side after the break and attacked Cray from the start.
They got back on terms in the 50th minute when after a good spell of passing, George Smith played the ball out to the pacey Scott Cleland out on the right who made his way to the edge of the box before lashing in a fine shot which gave Sean Law no chance to save.
Cheshunt were starting to get on top and Alex Warren who had a good game throughout blazed a shot over the bar.
Cray though kept going forward with great intent and were very unlucky not to go back in front shortly after the hour. Collier put a great ball through to Cruz down the left who from twenty yards chipped the ball past the keeper but the ball agonisingly trickled wide of the right post.
Then from a corner down the right, the ball came to Brojaj who hit a half volley over the bar. For Cheshunt, Mason Naylor set up Smyth for a cracking shot from thirty yards which went just over the top in the 65th minute.
The game was still going from end to end and Scott-Riley saw an effort inside the area blocked by Jack Grosvenor. This was followed for Cheshunt with an effort from Naylor palmed away by Law down the right.
For Cray from a free kick just outside the area, Wybrow saw an effort go just wide and then a couple of minutes later from a similar position saw an effort fielded by Bull.
You sensed there was another goal in the game and it came for Cheshunt with eleven minutes to go. Good work down the right saw, Warman play the ball into Smyth who arched a looping header wide of Law for a goal his performance deserved.
For the first time Cheshunt seemed to have an element of control of the game and Smyth saw a strike from a free kick blocked.
With Cray going forward to try and level the scores, they were open to be caught on the break and did so three minutes from time. A ball was hoisted forward and was controlled by Cleland who from twenty yards hit a powerful shot which crashed into the net to give the score a rather flattering look.
The Wands seemed a little bit jaded by the end but did have the last shooting chance when Cruz was denied by a fine blocked tackle by Grosvenor.
In the end, Cray were beaten but once again there was very little to choose between the teams other than some fine finishing from Cheshunt and certainly are creating chances to score.
They are now back at Oakley Road for the next two games starting with a game on Monday, 20th March against Tilbury, followed a week later by a visit from AFC Sudbury.
Cray: Sean Law, Zak Henry (Connor Phelps, H/T), Matt Hall, Brent Brojaj, Charlie Horbacki, John Paul Collier (Abdul Wahab, 79), Ralique Lawrence, Steven Hollis, Tyrece Scott-Reilly, Cain Cruz, Nick Wybrow. Sub: Zak Khan
Cheshunt: Aaron Bull, Louis Douse, Byron Lal, Scott Cleland, Jack Grosvenor, Jordan Spearman, Tariq Bakkali (Harrison Case, 63), Alex Warman (Capt.), George Smith (Kane Reynolds, 68), Jamie Smyth, Mason Naylor (Samuel Cross, 77): Subs: Krishan Gacaj, Simond Ibokare
Referee: Brian Townsend
Assistants: Jida Ogunba, Giorgio Ryan