Bostik League South – 24/3/2018
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers made it four wins in a row and moved back up to 4th place in the Bostik South after a dramatic last minute winner from Aaron Rhule against a resolute and dogged Chipstead side.
Despite fears of the recent wet weather putting the match in jeopardy the pitch was passed fit to go and after a quite a slow start to the game the match picked up in the second half with Cray having a number of opportunities to score but were often denied by great goalkeeping from Michael Sibley. Despite knocking on the door throughout the second half it looked like it might be one of those days when in the 90th minute, Michael Power found Aaron Rhule and as Sibley came to claim the ball it spilled out to Rhule who turned and with his left foot rolled the ball into the net.
There were just a couple of changes from the side which won so impressively at Corinthian Casuals last Saturday. In came Kyron Farrell for his first full appearance for the side in place of Karl Dent, Michael Power started for Charlie MacDonald and Brandon Scott came in for Aaron Rhule.
Chipstead had lost their last six league and cup games but they set out their stall here to be very hard to break down and they worked very hard. It took Cray on what was a rather hard going pitch in places to find their real rhythm early on although Junior Dadson was very lively down the left hand side and Farrell found Dadson who put over a cross to the near post which was deflected and Sibley had to claim. Then a Barney Williams left wing cross was headed away by Dean Gunner.
There was plenty of probing looking for an opening and although an engaging encounter it didn’t see its first shot on goal until the 35th minute. A great run out from the back from Ben Mundele took him through midfield and from just inside the area saw his low shot saved by the legs of Sibley.
This saw the game open up and a minute later down the left a Michael Power cross aimed for the head of Brandon Scott but Sam Page managed to clear the ball away with a firm header away.
Then from a Mitchell Nelson throw in down the right the ball came to Power who had to take the chance early and from eight yards saw his shot blocked by the chest of Sibley.
Before half time thought it was Chipstead who created the best opening of the game when the ball was worked across the area from the right to left and Jake Robinson found Dean Lodge who from the left edge of the area saw his shot to the near post pushed behind well by Nick Blue. From the corner, Lodge’s cross was glanced off target by Gunner.
At half time it looked like a game that one goal would win it as it was so tight and there was more drama you felt to come after the break.
Half Time: 0-0
The second half began with a lot more purpose and Williams found Dadson who turned on the edge of the area but fired his shot over the bar. This was followed by Dadson setting up Power who drove a shot wide of the left post.
Chipstead showed they were very much in the game when from a free kick out on the right, Matthew Males curled the ball into the box which just missed the onrushing Page who would have just needed a touch to possibly turn the ball into the net.
Williams won a corner down the left and Farrell’s cross came to Lea Dawson whose effort was blocked by Males and the ball came to Dadson who was brought down outside the area. From the free kick on the right of the penalty area Farrell curled the ball round the wall and Sibley did very well to get a good hand to the ball to push it behind.
From another left wing Farrell corner the ball was flicked back by Jay Leader to Dadson who lifted a shot towards goal which Sibley was able to claim. This was followed by a Dadson cross which was deflected towards the near post as Power looked to connect with the ball.
Chipstead looking to play on the break and a good ball over the top found Sam Bell but Blue came out to clear the ball. Cray though continued to pour forward and Power down the right showed good balance to work his way to the byline and put the ball across to Farrell whose shot was blocked by Gunner. Then down the right Farrell put in a good cross to the near post which found Power who shot just wide.
A couple of substitutions saw Aaron Rhule and Karl Dent enter the fray and still Cray poured forward and after an intricate passing move Leader found Dent who exchanged passes with Rhule and down the left moved into the box and played the ball into Rhule who just couldn’t get a firm connection and Sibley held onto the ball at the post.
With twelve minutes to go, Rhule was brought down outside the area on the left and Dent’s ball into the box was excellent and Sibley did well to push the ball away. Then down the right Dent was unlucky when he did well to win the ball away from Saidou Khan and seeing a gap at the near post went for a shot which went wide.
There were a couple of little glimmers for the very durable Chipstead side when first Khan’s cross from the left to the far post to Lodge saw Leader do well to clear. Then Tobi Adaje’s ball across just evaded the onrushing Leon Lalor-Dell.
Cray carried on attacking and came closest yet seven minutes from time when from a free kick from the left of the penalty area, 20 yards from goal. Dent’s fine strike was pushed away well two handed by Sibley who was having an inspired afternoon. From the corner the ball to the far post just missed the head of Nelson. Then from another corner from Dent the ball came quickly to Power who glanced a header across goal and wide.
It looked like it would be one of those days when nothing was going to come off for Cray but in the final minute, Cray took finally took the lead. The ball came to Michael Power in a central position, he moved towards goal and slipped a pass intended for Rhule but Sibley looked to have come out and claimed the ball but seemed to collide with Matthew Warren and Rhule stole in, turned and with his left foot placed the ball into the net to send the Cray fans into ecstasy. It had been a long time coming but at this stage of the season it is all about the winning and had to show great patience and belief to keep going.
Chipstead had worked extremely hard to keep Cray at bay but the Wands had played very well second half and deserved to win at the end. Not a classic but a great result at the end.
This now sets up a mouth watering clash with 3rd placed Greenwich Borough on Easter Monday as the promotion race gets even tighter and tense as two teams in form lock horns at Hayes Lane.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Barney Williams, Ben Mundele, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Zak Henry, Kyron Farrell (Karl Dent, 64), Michael Power, Junior Dadson, Brandon Scott (Aaron Rhule, 60): Subs: Charlie MacDonald, Michael Freiter, Marcus Evans
Chipstead: Michael Sibley, Matthew Warren, Matthew Males, Danny Cumber, Sam Page (Capt.), Dean Gunner, Jake Robinson, Saidou Khan, Sam Bell (Leon Lalor-Dell, 72), Andrew Mensah (Tobi Adaje, 62), Dean Lodge (Ollie Twum, 85)
Referee: Bulpinder Gill
Assistant Referees: Mudiwa Manyange, Stephen Williams