Ryman League Division One South – 18/3/17
Cray Wanderers 0
South Park 3
Moody 50, Lavery 62 (p), Smith 70 (p)
Cray Wanderers disappointing home form continues as a strong second half display from South Park made it five straight defeats at Hayes Lane and eight games without a win for the Wands.
Cray just about edged a rather scrappy first half and created the better chances. Playoff chasing South Park though are a clever side well suited to playing away from home and took the lead five minutes after half time through Dan Moody’s deflected shot. They then took control of the match and scored two more goals, both penalties from Keiran Lavery and Chris Smith to keep the Sparks in contention for the playoffs although still ten points off the top 5 but with a number of games in hand.
The Wands were looking to return to form following last weekend’s defeat at East Grinstead but Tony Russell’s side were missing the spine of the team with Jay Leader and Danny Haynes out injured and Lea Dawson suspended. Jey Siva has been released by the club so was replaced today by Timi Osidobu at left back. Jai McKinlay started in place of Leader whilst Dane Luchford came in for Brandon Scott.
Both teams took a little while to find their feet on a difficult playing surface and with a bit of a stiff breeze and the match began in a somewhat scrappy manner. Cray had the first attempt toward goal in the 7th minute when Luchford teed up Sean Roberts who hit a shot from twenty five yards well wide of goal.
South Park appeared a little jaded early on after three games in a week and couldn’t quite work any openings as Lorraine and McKinlay did well to deny them shooting opportunities.
The Wands were awarded a free kick on the right edge of the penalty area but Karl Dent’s cross was inviting but no one was able to get on the end of the cross.
The first real half chance for South Park came halfway through the half when Dean Lovegrove played Ben Senior in down the right hand side and his cross shot seemed to be taken by the breeze away from goal but kept still in play when Lovegrove was fouled just outside the area but nothing came of the free kick.
Then in the 25th minute a ball was hoisted up to Chris Smith who chested the ball to Daniel Moody who fired well over the bar from distance.
Cray won a corner down the left which Luchford floated into the area and was deflected behind by Kieran Lavery for another corner this time down the right which South Park were able to clear.
It took until the 35th minute for the first shot on goal and it came for Cray when good work by Luchford down the left saw the ball come to Dent whose strike from twelve yards was met by a fine save from Callum Thomas who pushed the ball behind for a corner.
Then as the half neared its conclusion, Cray came close again when down the right, Luke Medley found Dent inside the area but his shot was saved by Thomas’ legs from eight yards.
The last action of the half came for South Park when they were awarded a free kick out on the left of the penalty area. The kick from Lavery went round the wall but straight to Nick Blue who had had a fairly quiet first half.
Half Time: 0-0
The second half began with a bit more purpose from the visitors and the Wands were under a bit more pressure.
South Park were awarded another free kick out on the right and Smith curled in a good shot which was well held by Blue.
Seconds later though South Park went in front in the 50th minute. The ball was worked down the left and Smith and Lavery combined to set up Moody who saw his shot from ten yards take a slight deflection off McKinlay and past Blue into the net.
Cray looked to hit back straight away and a fine ball was played through to Dent but Thomas did well to rush out and clear the ball away.
Then from a corner just after the hour, Luchford’s cross to the far post was met by Lorraine but couldn’t get direction on his header and the keeper was able to claim.
A minute later, South Park were awarded a penalty when Lavery made his way down the left and cut into the penalty area and was brought down for a pretty clear cut penalty by McKinlay. Lavery got up to take the spot kick himself and scored to make it 25 for the season for the South Park captain.
South Park then went on to dominate the game as Cray found it hard going to create chances and they almost scored again when Smith poked a shot just wide of the right post. This was followed by a fine curling strike from Moody which went just wide of goal.
In the 70th minute, it became 3-0 when South Park were awarded their second penalty when Smith showed good pace to find his way in the box before being brought down by Lorraine for another pretty clear cut award. Smith this time brushed himself down to strike home a confident penalty to all intents and purposes to have sealed the three points.
South Park came close again when Smith played Lavery through but was denied by a smart stop from Blue.
The game which never really reached any great heights drifted in the later stages. For South Park Senior tested Blue with a shot from distance. Whilst for Cray, Lee Prescott set up Anthony Adesite who hit a shot from thirty yards which was saved by Thomas.
In stoppage time, South Park looked to score a fourth when from a corner the ball came to Benjamin King who fired well over.
The last opening came for Cray when Medley down the left found Dent who attempted a shot at the keeper’s near post was the ball was blocked and behind for a corner.
In the end, Cray were not able to grab even a consolation goal and so their winless run stretches to eight games The three goal scoreline was perhaps a little harsh but South Park were the better side in the second half. They could still be live playoff contenders considering the games in hand they have to play and twelve away wins show that Malcolm Porter’s side can make life very difficult. Although perhaps not the quickest side in the league, they are a clever footballing team and very disciplined and gave away very few free kicks.
Cray now need with a free week to get themselves set for the trip to Whyteleafe next Saturday as the season enters its final five weeks. There is no lack of effort from the side and they will keep plugging away and hoping perhaps for a change of fortune very soon.
Cray: Nick Blue, Nathan Fox, Timi Osidobu, Jai McKinlay, Paul Lorraine (Capt.), Zak Henry (Lee Prescott, 59), Sean Roberts, Karl Dent, Luke Medley, Dane Luchford (Anthony Adesite, 65), Ben Mundele (Brandon Scott, 59): Subs: Sean Law, Jay Leader
South Park: Callum Thomas, Harry Knock, Benjamin King, Asa Rixon-Nichols, Luke Elliott, Jake Gill (Dylan Merchant, 84), Dean Lovegrove, Daniel Moody, Kieran Lavery (Capt.) (Kofi Quartey, 79), Chris Smith (Dale Burgess, 77) Ben Senior: Tunde Dixon, Nathan Ayling
Referee: Peter Cruise
Assistants: Benjamin Bowles, Peter Conn