Cray Wanderers v Bishop’s Stortford – Match Report

Pitching In Isthmian Premier, Sunday 11th October, 2020

Cray Wanderers                                          1

Parker 16

Bishop’s Stortford                                      3

Greene 58, Merrifield 68 (p), 74

Pics: Jon Hilliger,

Cray Wanderers went down to their first home defeat since Boxing Day as Bishop’s Stortford came from behind to score three second half goals and make it back to back league defeats for Cray for the first time since December. 

On the first Sunday game of the season the Wands got off to a good start and twice came close twice before Freddie Parker slotted Cray in front in the 16th minute with his fifth goal of the season.

The game evened up before the break and Aaron Greene who was denied by a fine save from Lewis Carey on the stroke of half-time levelled in the 58th minute for the Blues when he finished well from Ben Marlow’s lay off.

Ten minutes later with Bishop’s Stortford getting on top had the chance go ahead when Greene was brought down in the box and Frankie Merrifield stroked home the spot.  In the 74th minute, there was more joy for Merrifield when he finished well when put through on goal and despite Cray’s best endeavours couldn’t get back in the game and drop to 7th in the Isthmian Premier League table with Bishop’s Stortford who are the only unbeaten team in the division up to 4th.

On a bright October afternoon, and with Joe Vines in first team charge with Tony Russell absent through illness Cray were looking to get back on track after defeat at Potters Bar Town on Tuesday night and from the side which started that game into the team came Ben Mundele for Barney Williams, Bradley Pritchard for Charlie Allen and Jerome Federico in place of Rhys Murrell-Williamson. Bishop’s Stortford were unchanged from the team which drew at home to Folkestone on Tuesday.

Prior to the game there was an impeccably observed minute silence in memory of Cray Wanderers committee member and friend of many at the club, Barry Lambert with the players holding a commemorative 1968 European Cup Final shirt.

The game started at a good tempo and Cray created the first opening of the afternoon when Pritchard found Mundele who made one of a number of early promising early runs forward, found Jerome Federico down the right who put over a cross into the box for Joe Taylor, who turned, found space but pulled his shot just past the right post.

Down the left, Aaron Greene for Bishop’s Stortford was a constant threat and he put over an early cross which was well claimed by Lewis Carey.

A very patient build-up of passing from Cray down the left saw Mitchell Nelson and Jay Leader bring the ball forward and found Jason Banton who received a return pass from Tom Phipp and from the left of the area his cross shot was pushed away well by Jack Giddens.

In the 16th minute, Cray went into a merited lead at this stage with Federico making a surging run down the middle finding Freddie Parker out on the left who from the edge of the box, turned a defender and fired a shot low past a diving Giddens into the bottom right corner.   

The game was now set up to be a cracker and from a corner down the right, Bishop’s Stortford came close when a clearance fell to Ryan Henshaw who fired over the top.

Then for Cray, Parker again found space and his shot from 20 yards was deflected through to Giddens.

Cray came close to what would have been a great second goal when Parker found Federico down the right who curled a superb dipping shot towards the far post which only just dropped over the bar.

At the other end though, Bishop’s Stortford came close to a leveller when Archie Jones found Greene who from twenty yards found space and curled his shot fractionally wide of the right hand post.

There was a blow for Cray just after the half hour mark when Banton left the field with injury and was replaced by Rhys Murrell-Williamson.

Cray came close to a well worked second goal when Leader and Pritchard combined to fine Federico who put over a right wing cross into the area to Parker who from 12 yards saw his shot blocked by the backside of Sam Robbins.

Then Cray won a free kick out on the left about 15 yards from goal and Parker hit the ball right into the heart of the area and Giddens did well to punch the ball away almost on the line.

Before half time though Bishop’s Stortford were beginning to threaten and following the award of a free kick just outside the area for which Mitchell Nelson was booked, Darren Foxley curled his shot over.

Then right on the stroke of half time down the right, Greene showed pace to break into the area and looked destined to score but his shot was met by a fine one handed stop by Carey and was able to scramble the ball from danger and Cray led at the break.

The second half began with the visitors carrying on where they left off and again Greene was to the fore and did well to fire in a shot from the edge of the area which Carey did well to push over for a corner. 

Then from a corner down the left Greene’s cross was headed across goal by Frankie Merrifield and Marlow’s cross went behind.

Cray though looked to score a second goal and from a throw-in down the left, Leader and Pritchard combined well to set up Taylor who hit a shot which went past the left post.

In the 58th minute, Bishop’s drew level when Giddens hoisted the ball forward was flicked on to Marlow inside the area who chested the ball back to Greene who hit a sweet strike similar to Freddie Parker’s strike from the edge of the area and nestled into the bottom right.

Bishop’s were now on top of the game and down the left, Marlow’s cross was well claimed by Carey under pressure from Merrifield and did well not to get clattered.  For Cray, Parker fired well over from a free kick from distance.

In the 68th minute, the game was turned on its head when Bishop’s Stortford were awarded a penalty when again Giddens found Marlow the laid the ball down the right of the area to Foxley who played the ball into the box to Greene who was adjudged to have been brought down by Leader and a penalty kick was awarded. From the spot Merrifield drove his kick down the middle and Bishop’s Stortford were in front.

Six minutes later, the visitors scored a third goal when Carey’s ball out to Jay Leader who saw his attempt to play the ball forward intercepted by Foxley who found Merrifield in space down the right of the area who drove a shot under Carey and into the net for his fifth league goal of the season.

From here Cray looked to get a goal that could kick start a revival but found chances few and far between with a Tom Phipp shot deflected behind for a corner, the nearest to a goal.  Then from a Pritchard corner the ball into the box glanced off Mitchell Nelson and was cleared away from danger.

The last chance of the game fell to Bishop’s Stortford when Marlow who had a good second half won the ball and laid the ball towards the right post but Thomas Richardson fired wildly over the bar.

However, Bishop’s Stortford had done enough second half to win the game and show they could be a side hard to beat this season and took their opportunities well during the spell they were on top after half time.

All is not despondency with Cray Wanderers and are still only three points off the top of the table and one outside the playoff places during the early weeks of the season. Cray next concentrate on a record equalling place in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Tuesday night at Bristol Manor Farm before returning to league action on Saturday at second placed Haringey Borough.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Jerome Federico, Tom Phipp, Bradley Pritchard, Jason Banton (Rhys Murrell-Williamson, 31), Freddie Parker (Charlie Allen, 81), Joe Taylor: Subs:  Barney Williams, Lee Lewis, Martin Onoabaghbe

Booked:         Nelson, Phipp

Bishop’s Stortford: Jack Giddens, Sam Mvemba, Jack Thomas, Sam Robbins, Ryan Henshaw (Capt.), Mark Haines, Archie Jones, Darren Foxley (Correy Davidson, 83), Ben Marlow, Frankie Merrifield (Thomas Richardson, 79), Aaron Greene (Jordan Brown, 89): Subs: Michael Mullings, James Baker  

Booked:         Thomas

Att:     338