Ryman League Division One South: 21/9/16
Cray Wanderers 0
Hythe Town 1
Cray went down to their second defeat of the season as Hythe took the three points in a high quality game at Hayes Lane. A goal three minutes before half time set Cray back on their heels and despite some late pressure were unable to grab an equaliser.
In Cray’ s sixth Kent derby of the season the first half in particular was all action with both goalkeepers having to make vital saves before the visitors soaked up Wands pressure after the break and had a let off when Cray hit the post with practically the last kick of the game.
There were three new players that came into the side from Saturday. Forward, Bradley Wood-Garness who last played for Lowestoft Town, former Cray utility player, Dean Carpenter and full back Jeysiva Sivapathasundaram signed from Leatherhead. They came in for Lee Prescott, Solomon Taiwo and Timi Osidobu.
With two good sides on the pitch, the game promised much and the first half in particular was a terrific contest with Hythe the better side for the opening quarter of an hour.
It was Cray though that had the first real shot on goal when Danny Haynes set up Brandon Scott with a fine cross field ball, who ran on and hit a shot which was well fielded by keeper, Joe Mant.
Hythe were looking dangerous going forward and the combination of Alfie May and Frankie Sawyer posed a real handful for the Cray defence.
Their first shooting opportunity came from a free kick, twenty five yards out from goal which May bent over the wall but Nick Blue did very well to get down and push the ball over the bar for a corner. From the corner, the ball was met by the head of former Cray player, Nick Reeves but his header went over the top.
Cray were indebted to Blue again when he came out to foil May again who had been played through on goal. Then a free kick from Giorgio Rosso was played into Kenny Pogue who headed across goal to May whose shot was blocked for a first of several early corners. May then shot well wide and Sawyer a shot go over as Hythe controlled the game.
Cray though when they did attack looked a real threat and from a corner played in by Jeysiva the ball came to Brandon Scott whose shot was blocked for another corner.
In the 25th minute, Cray had their best opening yet when Scott worked his way into the area with one of his customary runs and his shot from close range was blocked well by Mant.
Two minutes later Mant did well again to deny Scott who was played in by Wood-Garness and again his close range shot was blocked by the keeper’s legs.
There was a blow for Cray around the half hour mark when Paul Lorraine went off injured to be replaced by Jai McKinlay. The game carried on at a tremendous pace and Blue did well to block an effort by May with his legs, with the follow up falling to Josh Burchell whose effort went just over the bar.
The best moment of the match so far came in the 38th minute when Haynes down the right set up Sean Roberts who from the edge of the penalty area curled a tremendous shot which was tipped brilliantly behind by Mant for a corner.
Cray continued to press and Haynes from twenty five yards tested Mant again with a strike the keeper pushed over the bar for a corner.
From the corner the ball to the back post came to Lea Dawson and his header came back off the post and out into play. Despite not playing at their most fluent Cray had still created some good chances and were not getting the rub of the green in the penalty area.
n the 42nd minute, Hythe went ahead with a quick break from a Cray attack. A ball into the box just missed the onrushing Craig Cloke, and the ball came back to Burchell whose strike was parried by Blue into the path of May who fired a home a left foot shot to score.
Half Time: 0-1
If the first half was an exciting open contest, the second was less dramatic with Hythe sitting back on their lead and soaking up any pressure Cray threw at them with former Cray player, Chris Saunders coming on at half time for Hythe.
The Wands had a good opening five minutes after the break when a corner from the right by Jeysiva to the back post was headed across goal by Jay Leader and no-one could follow up the header.
Cray had a lot of possession but Hythe defended stoutly and got a few blocks in on the edge of the area as the Wands pressed for a leveller. Scott down the left set up Roberts for a shot which was blocked, then McKinlay played in Wood-Garness who fired well wide from twenty yards.
Perhaps Hythe’s best opening of the second half fell to May after a rare mistake at the back by Leader presented the ball to the forward who took the ball round Blue before opting to square the ball into the box rather than shoot and so was a let off for Cray.
The last twenty minutes saw the game run out of its early zip and the game became a bit scrappy and disjointed. Cray had plenty of good possession but found the visitors defence hard to crack and Haynes hit a shot from the right which went well wide of goal.
In the 81st minute, Ben Mundele cut in from the left and found Wood Garness whose goal bound effort was blocked by Dave Cook.
Hythe couldn’t quite kill the game off and there was always a chance that Cray would get one more opportunity before the end and it did so in the third minute of stoppage time. Max Williams played a fine ball through to Mundele down the left of the penalty area whose low shot was pushed away by Mant and the ball fell to Roberts whose effort came back off the post and no-one could react to push the ball over the line.
In the end that was the final action as the final whistle went and despite the defeat, Cray managed to keep in touching distance of the playoff places.
Hythe for their part look a very strong outfit, with lively forwards and an excellent defence who should be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
Cray next travel down to Godalming on Saturday knowing that they are playing well and creating plenty of chances and perhaps are due some good fortune in front of goal just at the moment.
Cray: Nick Blue, Ade Osifuwa, Jeysiva Sivapathasundaram, Jay Leader, Paul Lorraine (Jai McKinlay, 29), Lea Dawson (Capt.), Sean Roberts, Dean Carpenter (Max Williams, 76), Bradley Wood-Garness, Danny Haynes, Brandon Scott (Ben Mundele, 76): Subs: Solomon Taiwo, Taylor McDonagh
Hythe: Joe Mant, Giorgio Russo, Josh Burchell, Ryan Johnson, Craig Cloke (Capt.) (Chris Saunders, H/T), Nick Reeves, Dave Cook, Charlie Webster, Frankie Sawyer, Alfie May, Kenny Pogue: Subs: Keane Gillett, Travis Jackson, Sam May, Richard Atkins
Booked: Russo, Reeves
Referee: Dele Sotimirin
Assistants: Tom Fell, Peter Stillwell