Ryman League Division One North: 13/2/16
Cray Wanderers 0
Dereham Town 1 Tuttle 31
Cray’s playoff hopes were dealt a blow as a solitary first half goal was enough to give Dereham Town the three points on a cold and murky February afternoon at Hayes Lane. The Wands slipped to their third consecutive home defeat and now remain in the playoffs on goal difference tied on points with fourth placed Cheshunt and sixth placed Thurrock.
Cray had won their last game at Redbridge and looked to be clicking back into form and certainly started the game in the ascendancy before the hardworking visitors from Norfolk got into the match. The goal came just after the half hour and despite a lot of endeavour from Cray in the second half and were just a goal post away from getting a point the Magpies on balance probably deserved the win.
Tony Russell made just the one change to the starting line up from Redbridge with Jamie Mascoll starting in place of the suspended Leigh Bremner. A new Cray Wanderers signing started on the bench, Greenwich born forward Tom Youngs who comes to Cray from Erith Town having spent spells at Bolton Wanderers and Oldham Athletic.
The Wands began the game where they left off last weekend looking very slick with their passing from the start and almost went straight away when Jay Leader’s ball found Mascoll down the left and his wicked cross towards James Duckworth was nicked behind for a corner.
Cray were looking good in possession of the ball full of ideas and looking to create openings but the Magpies were a bit more direct and with their first excursion into Cray territory were awarded a free kick twenty five yards from goal. From the free kick, Luke Tuttle’s strike on goal was well hit but Nick Blue had to get down to save and after initially spilling the shot did well to get to the ball at the second attempt and the ball was cleared.
The Wands looked to have some joy down the left hand side and a Grant Basey cross just landed on the roof of the net. Then another great ball across from Mascoll just evaded a touch from Ben Hunt and James Duckworth inside the area.
From the right, Ade Osifuwa put over a cross which was headed wide by Ben Hunt but the referee had flagged for offside.
Then from an Osifuwa throw in, the ball came to Duckworth down the right of the penalty area. His cutback was cleared as far as Karl Dent who from just inside the area fired over the angle of post and crossbar in the fifteenth minute.
Despite Cray having the territorial advantage a minute later, Dereham created the best opening so far when Lewis Butcher played a ball over the top to Ryan Crisp who ran on and with time on the edge of the penalty area fired over the bar to Cray’s relief.
The game then evened up with Dereham having a bit more control. Left back, Fraser Blake-Tracy was looking very positive going forward for Dereham and he made his way the left and he put over a ball which almost caught out Blue before sailing across and out of play. Then Crisp tried an audacious chipped shot from forty-five yards which went well over.
In the 31st minute, Dereham went ahead following an award of a free kick out on the right. Dion Farry played the ball into the box and Ben Payne perhaps looking to shepherd the ball out of play was dispossessed by the quick thinking Tuttle who from close range tucked the ball home for his 18th goal of the season.
Cray had an opportunity to hit straight back with the award of a free kick following a foul on Osifuwa on the right of the area. Basey’s strike was on target but comfortably gathered by keeper, Will Viner.
As the half drew on Dereham looked fairly comfortable if not overly ambitious in attack and in the final goal attempt of the half, Crisp fired a shot from long range wide.
Half Time: 0-1
There was a change at the interval as Aryan Tajbakhsh was introduced in place of Karl Dent and Cray started the half on the front foot and started to rain some shots in on goal.
Firstly, Hunt combined with Duckworth who hit a decent strike from outside the box which Viner got down well to save. Then, Viner had to scurry across to get to another long range effort this time from Sean Roberts. A minute later after a patient passing build up Mascoll cut in and shot wide Viner’s left hand post.
The game then became somewhat disjointed and the quality of the play seem to take a dip as the skies became murkier and the temperature seemed to get colder.
Tajbakhsh worked his way down the right and put across a tantalising ball but Hunt couldn’t quite divert the ball on target and the ball went wide.
Dereham were well drilled and weren’t giving much away and seemed quite happy to dictate the tempo of the game. They did create one opening in the second half when Butcher down the right was given a little too much time on the ball and he played the ball to Crisp whose shot at the near post was met by a good save by Blue who palmed the ball away.
Halfway through the half, Duckworth fired a free kick from thirty yards out well over the top and Roberts played in Hunt who got to the ball first and as he tried to take the ball around the goalkeeper, Viner managed to clutch the ball preventing a shot on goal. Then from a corner down the right the ball came to debutant Youngs but his effort drifted behind the goal.
With the game entering the last fifteen minutes chances were becoming fewer with the best semblance of a chance falling to Tajbakhsh who picked up a loose ball outside the area but his shot went wide of goal.
Dereham were still looking solid at the back and captain Sam Borrer was having an influential game in midfield whilst Jay Leader had to have a bit of treatment for a knock on the head and came back bandanged for the last few minutes.
With the game entering stoppage time the game was running away from Cray but were extremely unlucky not to grab a point when Tajbakhsh found Hunt with a fine pass and from just inside the penalty area drove a rasping drive which cannoned back of the left post and away from goal to add to the Wands frustration.
The last opportunity fell to Cray with the last kick of the game when Osifuwa’s cross was headed wide by Ray Powell.
In the end Cray were unable to find the goal they needed to prevent defeat and leaves the playoff picture delicately poised. Cray will next be action on Saturday, 20th February when they travel to Bury Town.
Cray: Nick Blue, Adetayo Osifuwa, Grant Basey, Jay Leader, Ben Payne, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Sean Roberts (Ray Powell, 81), Karl Dent (Aryan Tajbakhsh, H/T), Ben Hunt, James Duckworth, Jamie Mascoll (Tom Youngs, 60): Subs: Dean Carpenter, Sam Faulkner
Dereham: Will Viner, Jake Anema, Fraser Blake-Tracy, Daniel Morphew, Matthew Howard, Dion Frary, Lewis Butcher (Craig Bussens, 81), Sam Borrer (Capt., Luke Tuttle (Seb Bialasik, 87), Robbie Linford, Ryan Crisp (Connor Green, 75)
Referee: Joe Simpson
Assistants: Andrew Simpson, Hugh Gilroy