Ryman League Division One South – 25/2/17
Lalor-Dell 63, Wilson 82
Cray Wanderers 2
Haynes 30, Leader 73
Cray Wanderers ended a run of three league defeats but had to be content with a point against Chipstead after twice leading the game.
Both sides came into the game in poor form with Chipstead without a win in seven games and lying 20th in the league table. Cray though edged the first half and took the lead after half an hour with a fine piece of finishing from Danny Haynes and deserved to be in front at the break.
The second half though was a different story and Chipstead improved and levelled in the 63rd minute with Leon Lalor-Dell’s sweetly struck shot. Cray though went back in front, in the 73rd minute when Jey Leader powered home a header from a corner to notch his first goal for Cray. The Wands though yet again couldn’t finish off Chipstead and grabbed a second equalising goal eight minutes from time when Bradley Wilson fired in from close range.
Cray had made a handful of changes from the side which started the game against Tooting & Mitcham Unite on Wednesday. In to the side came the returning Nathan Fox in defence in place of Paul Lorraine, Sean Roberts came in for the suspended Lee Prescott and Brandon Scott for the now retired Grant Basey. Leigh Bremner picked up an injury to his hand against Tooting & Mitcham so was out of the team today.
On a fairly cold and eventually soggy February afternoon, the game started rather quietly with the teams having to come to terms with the conditions but Cray threatened when Danny Haynes down the left cut into the penalty area and his attempted shot came back off David Graves and the ball bounced up and seem to hit Tommy Smith on the arm but would have been harsh to have awarded a penalty.
The first real shot at goal came in the 13th minute for the home side when a neat move saw Raheem Sterling-Parker tee up Leon Lalor-Dell who fired a shot from twenty five yards well wide.
The best opening though of the first quarter of an hour fell to Cray when Haynes won a corner down the left. The cross from Jey Siva was excellent to the back post where the ball was met forcibly by the head of Lea Dawson but his header drifted just wide of the left post.
Chipstead threatened in the 20th minute when from a free kick played by Chris O’Flaherty the ball came to ex-Wands player Jason Henry whose shot at the near post was blocked by Jay Leader for a corner.
Cray went back on the attack and a fine run forward by Fox saw the ball played to Karl Dent who hit a low strike from thirty yards which another ex Cray player, Luke Colquhoun got down well to save.
Then in the 24th minute, Siva down the left played the ball to Luke Medley who curled a teasing cross-shot just wide of the right post. Then Scott down the right played the ball across to Medley who couldn’t quite work the room to shoot, but the ball fell to Dawson whose effort was blocked by Matthew Males.
Cray had a big let off in the 28th minute when Matthew Warren played a ball forward towards Karl Parker who held off the challenge of Leader and as Nick Blue advanced from goal, Parker looked to chip the ball into the net from thirty yards but the ball drifted wide.
That was a key moment as two minutes later, Cray went in front when a quick attack saw Haynes find Medley who with a cute backheel played the ball into the penalty area where Haynes showing his great pace latched onto and lofted the ball over the advancing Colquhoun and into the net.
Cray then had a good spell in the ascendancy with Scott and then Haynes firing wide of goal as the wind started to make the play a bit awkward.
The Medley and Haynes combination almost helped grab a second for Cray two minutes before half time with Medley down the left putting a ball through to Haynes who was denied by the quick reactions of Colquhoun who came out to block the shot for a corner.
The last action of the first half came in stoppage time when Siva’ floated in a free kick from the left to the far post where Lea Dawson on the stretch connected with the volley but the ball went just over the bar.
Half Time: 0-1
For the home side they really needed to improve and certainly did step up a gear in the second half. Cray for their part, not for the first time this season seemed a different side after half time and whether it was because they were being pressed back by Chipstead or just got bogged down there wasn’t the fluency of the last twenty minutes of the first half.
Aside from a corner won by Scott down the right, with Dent’s ball into the box cleared away there wasn’t a lot to trouble Colquhoun in the early stages of the second half.
The first sign that this could be a long half came when Warren down the right picked the ball up and drilled in a shot which went wide of goal.
Then O’Flaherty played in a ball from the left which the onrushing Henry couldn’t quite get on the end of.
The feeling amongst the supporters was that Cray really needed a second goal and this was proved right in the 63rd minute when Chipstead levelled the scores. Parker played the ball from midfield out to Lalor-Dell who turned just inside the penalty area and did well to squeeze in a shot which found its way into the bottom right corner of the net.
Chipstead had deserved to be level at that stage and almost scored again straight after when O’Flaherty cut into the area and his shot was held by Blue at the near post.
Cray had to try and find a way back into the game again and Scott down the right put a good ball into the area which Colquhoun did well to claim.
Then in the 73rd minute, Cray went back in front. Medley won a corner down the left, and Siva flighted in the ball to the back post to Leader who outjumped Graves to power a header into the net for his first goal for the Wands and a cue for pandemonium to break out among the fans.
This really should have been the cue for Cray to see out the win but Chipstead stuck to their task well and fought back with a second goal eight minutes from the end. The Wands played their way into trouble close to goal and the ball was played into the area and substitute Bradley Wilson stuck out a foot to divert the ball wide of Blue and into the net.
Chipstead seemed quite content for a point after this and Cray pushed forward more for the winner and forced a couple of corners and from the second of these the ball was played to Dane Luchford who played the ball into the area and Haynes met the cross but steered a header wide of goal.
In the end the game finished in a draw which on the balance of play in the second half was probably the right result. The game was also well refereed, you never even noticed him and tried to get the game to flow despite the difficulty of the weather conditions at times. Looking at positives from the game, Nathan Fox gave a steady and composed display in his first game back with Cray, the combination of Medley and Haynes is starting to look potent and Jay Leader thoroughly deserved his first goal for the club and one hugely popular with the fans. The Wands move up one place to ninth with this point but are eight points off the playoffs whilst Chipstead are up one place to 19th in the table.
Cray now face three consecutive home games starting on Wednesday night against Corinthian Casuals as they look to put a run together for the remaining eleven games and see where that leaves them at the end of the season.
Cray: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Jey Siva, Jay Leader, Nathan Fox, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Sean Roberts, Karl Dent, Danny Haynes, Luke Medley, Brandon Scott (Dane Luchford, 79): Subs: Paul Lorraine, Timi Osidobu, Zak Henry, Jai McKinlay
Chipstead: Luke Colquhoun, Tommy Smith, Chris O’Flaherty, David Graves (Capt.), Matthew Males, Matthew Warren, Karl Parker (Scott Johnston, 77), Dan Cumber, Raheem Sterling-Parker (Bradley Wilson, H/T), Jason Henry (Conal O’Leary, 81), Leon Lalor-Dell: Subs: Steve Betancourt, Tony Stone.
Referee: John Pike
Assistants: Jack Hobbs, Callum Tulley