Cray Wanderers v Kingstonian – Isthmian League Premier – Saturday 15th February, 2020  

Cray Wanderers                                            0

Kingstonian                                                   0

Photos credit: Kindly provided by Jon Hilliger

Cray Wanderers remain unbeaten in 2020 and made it nine matches without defeat after picking up a point from a goalless draw against Kingstonian at Hayes Lane.  The match like many in the country today was played in wet, cold and windy conditions but despite the weather this was a decent match between two good footballing sides who couldn’t be separated after 90 gruelling minutes.  The point moved Cray down a place in the league table to 4th on goal difference with 3rd placed Carshalton Athletic.

Both sides have proved hard to beat this season and both defences were rock solid but there were occasional chances but both keepers, Lewis Carey and Rob Tolfrey made important saves with Carey denying Eddie Dsane twice in the first half but Tolfrey excelled in the second half with a fine double save to deny Joe Taylor and then a great one-handed save from Rhys Murrell-Williamson’s shot.  Kingstonian also came close second half when Fabio Saraiva’s shot from 25 yards came back off the crossbar possibly via a touch from Carey.

Cray had won their last four matches and from the side which won at Worthing last Saturday there were three changes with Jay Leader, Geofrey Okonkwo, Tom Carlse replaced by Ben Mundele, Martin Onoabhagbe and Mitchell Nelson.  Kingstonian had only lost one league match since October and are a strong side despite their 11th placed league position and the two sides drew 0-0 at Kingstonian on the opening day of the season but the conditions compared to then were stark and once the game got underway it seemed to pass by in a flash.

Cray despite being against the wind in the first half began confidently against a very good Kingstonian side and Karl Dent won an early corner which from the left, his ball into the box was flicked away for another by experienced keeper Rob Tolfrey.

Kingstonian were also looking positive in the early stages and Dan Hector down the left put in a ball to the near post for Eddie Dsane but was blocked by a good challenge from Barney Williams for a corner.  From the left wing corner, Kenny Beaney’s cross went into the net but the goal was disallowed for a pushing offence.

It was Cray though who created the first real chance when Joel Rollinson and Dent combined to find Bradley Pritchard down the left of the area and his ball across was fired over the bar by Joe Taylor from the edge of the six yard box.

Kingstonian then had a spell where they applied pressure and won three corners in succession and following the third from a throw in the ball came to Dsane whose shot from 20 yards stung the hands of Carey who pushed the ball away.

Then after a neat and tidy passing move down the right, Sean Clohessy set up Dan Bennett whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.  Then from a second corner, Beaney’s right wing cross into the area was tipped over by Carey.

After a lively first half hour, the wind just started to get stronger as the half wore on and the game went through a little lull and from a free kick 30 yards from goal out on the right, Beaney’s ball into the box went through and Carey had to claim on his line.

Kingstonian won a number of corners in the first half and before half time came close again from a right wing cross from Beaney which was flicked on by Simon Cooper to the far post where Dsane’s shot was pushed out well by Carey.

Then shortly before the break down the left, Hector put over a cross into the box which was met by Dan Bennett whose effort from six yards was blocked by Carey and the follow up cleared off the line by Onoabhagbe and scrambled away.

At half time, Cray who through the weather conditions had been on the back foot could get some respite but the Wands had defended well and an enjoyable half ended goalless.

HT: 0-0

The second half saw the wind get stronger and was still wet but Cray were very much on the offensive in the early stages of the half. Firstly, Rhys Murrell-Williamson down the right put a good ball into the box for Taylor who turned to find space and his shot was blocked by Cooper.

Then at the other end, Tom Kavanagh was found by Bennett and he put a good ball across but no-one could get on the end of the cross.

Cray went back on the attack and Murrell-Williamson was lively down the right and did well to set up Rollinson who from 25 yards shot just wide of the left post.

The deadlock was close to being broken just before the hour when Rollinson played a good ball through to Taylor who from eight yards was denied by an excellent save from Tolfrey palming the ball out and following up Taylor’ s near post was turned round the post by Tolfrey.  From the corner, the ball came to Murrell-Williamson who shot wide of goal.

Cray continued to do the pressing and from a free kick from distance, Murrell-Williamson fired well wide.   Then from a free kick on the right edge of the penalty area, Murrell-Williamson shot over the top.

With twenty minutes to go, out of nothing and against the run of play, Kingstonian almost took the lead when the ball was worked down the right and came to Fabio Saraiva who hit a shot from 25 yards which could have been wind assisted crashed against the crossbar possibly via the fingertips of Carey and away from danger.

Then Kingstonian had a corner from which Beaney’s cross came out to Kavanagh whose drive was deflected behind for another corner.

It was Cray though who would come closest to winning the game when Dent played a superb pass through to Murrell-Williamson who jinked his way down the right and into the area and his goalbound shot was pushed behind superbly by Tolfrey one handed.

As the game neared its final stages, Cray sought a winner and Rollinson saw a shot deflected behind for a corner and as the ball came into the box, both no 5’s, Mitchell Nelson and Harry Osborne met with a clash of heads leading to a brief stoppage of play.

Then from a throw in, Charlie Allen played a good ball up to Taylor whose shot was deflected behind for the first of two corners and from the second, Murrell-Williamson’s ball into the box was headed off the line by Saraiva and Onoabhagbe couldn’t get a touch to divert the ball goalwards.

Finally in stoppage time from another Cray corner, Dent’s ball towards the far post was glanced off target by Nelson and the game ended in a 0-0 draw which over the piece was about right but two very good defences were well drilled and despite nine bookings in the match, this was never a physical game but keenly contested and both teams deserve credit for their efforts in such stormy conditions.  Both sides have proved hard to beat all season and Cray have now drawn 10 matches and Kingstonian 13 and both lost only 5 so have been evenly matched in the two league games played.

Cray in 4th place in the league table on 55 points, eight points behind leaders Worthing are unbeaten in 9 games and can be pleased with their efforts in a difficult run of matches which continues next Saturday with a trip to East Thurrock United.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Ben Mundele, Martin Onoabhagbe, Mitchell Nelson, Charlie Allen, Karl Dent,  Bradley Pritchard, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Joel Rollinson, Joe Taylor:  Subs: Tom Carlse, Jerome Federico, Lee Lewis, Palace Francis, Stefan Abatan

Booked:          Allen, Pritchard

Kingstonian:  Rob Tolfrey, Sean Clohessy, Fabio Saravia, Simon Cooper, Harry Osborne, Dan Bennett, Tom Kavanagh, Eddie Dsane, Gus Sow, Dan Hector (Reece Hall, 90): Subs: Calum Davies, Ben Harrison, Aaron Lamont, Tutu Henriques   

Booked:          Cooper, Kavanagh, Bennett, Saraiva, Beaney, Dsane, Hall

Referee:          Thomas Hancock     

Assistants:     Christopher Cannon, Jak Hill

 Attendance – 239