Cray Wanderers vs. Cheshunt – Isthmian League Premier – 5/3/22

Cray Wanderers                                 1

Cheshunt                                            1

Pic credits: Scott Tweed Photography

Cray Wanderers made it three home games in a row without defeat but had to settle for a point against a tough Cheshunt side in a competitive game which saw the visitors down to ten men for the second half.  The point keeps Cray in 19th place on 29 points with the three teams below them all losing.

On a drizzly afternoon at Hayes Lane, Cheshunt had the better of the opening half hour and Wands keeper Joe Wright on his home debut made some fine early stops but the key moment of the half came three minutes before the break when Anthony Cook was pushed over in the box by Chevron McLean who was also sent off as deemed the last man and Cook scored his 100th career goal from the spot.

Cray with the man advantage looked to be controlling the game well but were rocked on their heels eighteen minutes from time when leading scorer Rowan Liburd hit a cracking strike from outside the area which went in off the crossbar but despite endeavour from both sides there were no further goals.

Cray had picked up a point at Horsham last Saturday and from the side which started the game into the side came Freddie Barton, Denzel Williams, Tom Hanfrey and Jacob Munting in place of the injured Ethan Kaiser and Kyel Reid, Luca Albon and Nazir Bakrin who was unavailable after playing for Charlton Athletic U23s on Friday.  Cheshunt were unbeaten in three league games and from the side which drew at home to Potters Bar Town on Tuesday into the side came Kayne Diedrick Roberts, Reece Beckles Richards and Jamie Reynolds in place of Ola Willams, Joe Re and Daniel Ojo.

There was a bit of sparring in the opening few minutes with Cray winning an early corner from which Cook’s cross was flicked goalwards by Jacob Munting but the ball was cleared away.  The first real moment of danger came in the 9th minute and a fine looping cross from Barton out on the right to the far post was glanced wide by Chris Dickson.

Cheshunt though are a strong side and have been one of the few teams to win at Worthing this season and came close twice within a minute to scoring when a ball forward from Taylor Miles was headed away by Joe Wright and the ball came to Beckles Richards who cut in from the right and his shot was well held by Wright.  Then in the 12th minute the ball was played down the left to the lively Rowan Liburd whose near post shot was well pushed behind by Wright.

In the 15th minute , Cray were awarded a free kick out on the left and Anthony Cook’s ball towards the far post was glanced wide by Williams.

There was a bit of a let off for Cray in the 17th minute when Cheshunt had the ball in the net when Jamie Reynolds finished well down the left of the area after a shot from Taylor Miles was saved by Wright but after consultation between referee and linesman the goal was disallowed for offside.

Cray had to make a change as early as the 20th minute when Williams had to go off and was replaced by Richie Danquah.

Still the better chances were falling to Cheshunt and in the 23rd minute came close Beckles Richards down the right laid the ball across to Liburd who hit a snap shot which Wright got down well to save and then a minute later Reynolds found space down the left of the area and his shot was well saved again by Wright who did well to turn the ball behind.

Just before the half hour Cray came close when down the right Barton found Narcis-Florin Filip who set up Sam Wood for an acrobatic overhead kick from 14 yards which was on target but well held by experienced keeper Preston Edwards.

Cheshunt were still looking the more threatening side and came close when Taylor McKenzie headed wide from a corner and Miles ball across from the right was deflected across goal for a corner and a Liburd ball across missed a connection in the box. For Cray another Cook free kick on the left edge of the area towards the far post got the meerest of touches off Dickson and went behind

In the 42nd minute came a big moment in the game when the ball was worked towards the edge of the area and Dickson flicked the ball into the area to Cook who was shoved to the ground by Chevron McLean and a penalty kick was awarded. To make matters worse McLean was sent off as deemed the last man. Skipper, Cook who had been on 99 career goals since scoring at East Thurrock United on New Years Day stroked home the penalty to reach his century of goals.

Cray almost scored again before half time when down the right Filip found space inside the area but pulled his shot wide of the left post.

H/T:  1-0

Cray began the second half confidently and passing the ball well and almost scored a second when Dickson hit a fizzing shot from outside the area which went just wide.

Then Munting set up Wood down the left who saw his shot deflected behind for a corner. For Cheshunt a ball across from the right into the box saw Wright save bravely at the feet of Joe Re.

Despite being down to ten men, Cheshunt were still playing well and came close in the 58th minute when Miles picked up the ball inside the D and his goalbound shot was turned round the post well by Wright.  Then from a free kick, Re curled the ball round the wall and was well claimed by Wright.

The feeling was that Cray were going to need a second goal and twenty minutes into the half almost got it when Barton’s cross from the right into the area was cushioned across by Filip to Cook who fired over from 12 yards.

In the 71st minute Cray were unlucky not to score a second after a fine passing move saw Kasim Aidoo find Wood who set up Dickson for a shot from 25 yards which was well saved as Edwards turned the ball behind for a corner.

However, a minute later Cheshunt drew level when they won possession close to goal and Reynolds set up Liburd who hit a cracking strike from outside the area which hit the back of the net via the crossbar to make it 1-1.

Both teams sought a winner in the last quarter of an hour. For Cray who brought on Jamie Yila and Luca Albon late on, Dickson’s ball across found Filip who was denied by a defensive block from McKenzie for a corner.  Then Barton just outside the area saw a shot blocked.  Cheshunt came close to going in front when Reynolds set up Re inside and his shot was blocked for a corner.

There was a bit of a worrying moment after a clash of heads between Barton and Beckles Richards but thankfully both were ok to resume.

Towards the end both teams pressed and Re saw a shot from 20 yards fielded by Wright who had a very good game and then a Re cross was punched away by Wright and the ball came out to Miles who drove the ball back towards goal and Danquah cleared almost off the line.

The last chance of the game fell to Cray in the injury time when Barton who also had a fine match set up Cameron Brodie who from just outside the area saw his shot go just over the bar.

In the end it finished honours even which over the course of the game was probably about right and was a decent, competitive contest but despite the red card was never a physical game. From a Cray perspective definitely a much better display than at Cheshunt in October where the home side won 4-0. Cray stay 19th in the table while Cheshunt are 10th on 47 points but do have games in hand on the other playoff contenders.

With Cray playing Haringey Borough on Wednesday night, this could well be a decent point for Cray against a good side who deserve their place in the top 10 in the division and can go into the game with momentum and pick up a vital three points in the Wands bid to remain in the Isthmian Premier next season.

Cray Wanderers:  Joe Wright, Freddie Barton, Denzel Williams (Richie Danquah, 20), Tom Hanfrey, Kasim Aidoo (Luca Albon, 84), Cameron Brodie, Jacob Munting (Jamie Yila, 78), Anthony Cook, Sam Wood, Chris Dickson, Narcis-Florin Filip: Subs: Emanuel Oduguwa, Bailey Vose

Scorer:            Cook 42 pen

Booked:           Hanfrey

MOM:  Joe Wright

Cheshunt:        Preston Edwards, Enock Ekongo, Chevron McLean, Amadou Kassarate (Daniel Ojo, H/T), Adam Crowther, Taylor McKenzie, Reece Beckles Richards, Kayne Diedrick Roberts (Joe Re, H/T), Rowan Liburd, Taylor Miles, Jamie Reynolds: Subs: Ola Williams, Zack Newton, Samuel Aldersen

Scorer:            Liburd 72

Sent Off:         McLean 42

Referee:          Michael Hayden

Assistants:       Nigel Owen, Philip Jones


Att:       333