Cray Wanderers v East Grinstead Town
Bostik League South – 3/2/2018
Cray Wanderers 1
East Grinstead Town 1
Pics: Jon Hilliger
Cray Wanderers missed the opportunity to go top of the Bostik South after they were held at home by East Grinstead Town. With Lewes drawing at Thamesmead the Wands with a win could have gone back to the top on goal difference but despite leading at half time were pegged back early in the second half and Cray couldn’t find a winner.
Cray took the lead with Michael Power’s 17th league goal of the season six minutes before half time. East Grinstead though hit back four minutes after the restart when Oliver Boulding levelled with a sweet volley and despite late pressure Cray couldn’t retake the lead.
On a very wet and miserable afternoon both sides had lost their last two games and Cray had won the corresponding game 7-0 at East Grinstead in November but any chance of a repeat of that scoreline was out of the question as the Wasps belied their lowly league position and a 1-8 thrashing at home to Whyteleafe last Saturday with a determined display.
Cray were looking to get back on track after last Saturday’s disappointing defeat at Herne Bay and from that side there were three changes to the starting lineup. Joe Vines made his first league start of the season as replacement for the injured Marcus Evans, Michael Freiter came in for Karl Dent whilst Michael Power started in place of Charlie MacDonald. The Wands were without the suspended Mitchell Nelson, Barney Williams and Aaron Rhule.
The game started at a fairly sedate pace and certainly East Grinstead began the game confidently enough and had the first shooting chance when Alex Gaggins down the right let fly from 20 yards and shot over.
The Wands created their first opening in the 9th minute when Junior Dadson down the right jinked past two defenders into the area, his ball across was cleared out to Lea Dawson who set up Dean Carpenter who shot over the top from 25 yards.
East Grinstead created the best early chance when Gaggins made a good run from midfield and teed up Will Hoare who shot narrowly wide from 15 yards.
Then Cray almost got themselves into a pickle at the back and Nick Blue’s clearance was underhit and Marcus Elliott’s ball back into the area was cleared by Joe Vines.
For Cray Michael Freiter took a quick free kick and played in Michael Power who hit a shot from the edge of the area which was comfortably saved by Dan Smith.
It was the Wasps who continued to look the more threatening in the first 25 minutes and Cray gave the ball away close to the penalty area and Hoare was unlucky to see a well struck shot go just past the right post although Gaggins who was having a decent game picked up an injury and was replaced by Charlie Postance.
Cray though slowly began to exert their authority on the game and Ben Mundele found Dadson down the right whose ball across was pushed away by Smith out to Brandon Scott who found Freiter whose shot from distance out on the left went straight to the East Grinstead keeper.
Two minutes later, Dadson found Mundele who played in Dawson and his ball into the box found Freiter who held off a challenge but drove a shot into the side netting. Then after a similar move Dadson found Freiter in the area but his effort was blocked by Sam Rolph.
Cray came close in the 33rd minute from a free kick 25 yards out to the left and Freiter curled a shot just wide of the right post. Then for East Grinstead Charles Ferguson saw an effort deflected through to Blue.
The Wands went in front in the 39th minute when a long ball out from the back caught out the East Grinstead back line perhaps looking for an offside but Power latched onto the pass and beat Rolph to the ball and in a one on one from just inside the penalty area stroked the ball into the net even though Smith got a hand to the ball.
Cray began to relax a little more having worked hard to take the lead and Mundele’s ball into the area found Power with his back to goal who turned and played the ball across the goal with no-one able to get a touch.
Before half time Carpenter set up Scott who fired over the top and for East Grinstead, Elliott’s effort from outside was claimed by Blue.
Half Time: 1-0
Half time perhaps came at the wrong time for Cray because they had started to take control of the game and at the start of the second half East Grinstead came out with great purpose and levelled four minutes after the break.
A patient build up saw Hoare play in Karn Miller-Neave down the left who put over an excellent cross to the far post where right back Oliver Boulding despatched a crisp volley from six yards.
From a free kick out on the left Freiter’s cross was comfortably claimed by Smith and for a while Cray lost their fluency and found chances hard to come by.
East Grinstead who had won the previous two encounters at Hayes Lane sensed a third win and Michael Wilson fired a shot well over.
Then the Wasps almost took the lead when Elliott and Hoare combined to set up Postance down the left of the area and he was denied by a smart save from the feet of Blue. Jay Leader appeared to have received a cut to the head and came back on to the field with a bandage on his head.
Cray were awarded a free kick in a central position twenty yards out but Freiter’s effort was deflected off the wall and Cray couldn’t make anything of the subsequent cross into the box.
Real chances were hard to come by but Power and Freiter combined to set up Mundele who cut in from the right but fired well wide.
Then Dadson down the left put over a good cross which found Freiter who turned to volley the ball but couldn’t get sufficient power and the ball looped to Smith. This was followed by Dadson’s ball in from the right which was deflected of Ricardo Thompson into the path of Matt Parsons who fired a shot wide.
Cray won a corner down the right and substitute Karl Dent swung over a good cross to the far post which was met by Dawson who perhaps lost his footing on the wet carpet and couldn’t control his volley and the ball went wide.
East Grinstead had been defending solidly but almost went in front when from a corner down the right, Hoare’s ball to the far post was met by Thompson whose header was punched away by Blue.
Into the last ten minutes and Cray came close when from a throw in the ball came to Dent down the left who laid the ball across to Dawson who from just inside the D saw a shot deflected over for a corner. From the corner, Dent’s left wing cross to the far post was nodded by Dawson towards another substitute Charlie MacDonald who turned the ball wide.
Perhaps Cray’s best chance came with six minutes left when Mundele’s cross found Dawson inside the area who fired over from ten yards.
It was East Grinstead who had the last real chance of the game into stoppage time when Elliott found Steve Sargent whose shot at the near post was parried away by Blue. Then Scott’s ball in from the left went across goal and with it the last action of the game.
Maybe not one of the more memorable games at Hayes Lane this season and for the second game running Cray maybe lost their rhythm in the second half. On the balance of play East Grinstead certainly deserved something from the game but in the end a draw was about right.
The point keeps Cray in second place on 66 points but just one point clear of third placed Carshalton who meet Cray in two weeks time at Hayes Lane. Also very much in the mix are Greenwich Borough on 64 points and Walton and Corinthian Casuals both on 63 points so the gap behind Lewes and Cray narrowed.
Cray are next in action at Ramsgate next Saturday which promises to be a tricky game as the Wands look to return to winning ways with 13 games to play.
Cray Massive Man of the Match – Lea Dawson
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Matt Parsons, Jay Leader, Joe Vines, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Dean Carpenter, Michael Freiter (Karl Dent, 74), Michael Power (Charlie MacDonald, 80), Junior Dadson (Ralique Lawrence, 87), Brandon Scott: Subs: Zak Henry, Tiwa Fujamade
East Grinstead Town: Dan Smith, Olive Boulding, Karn Miller-Neave, Michael Wilson, Ricardo Thompson, Sam Rolph, Alex Gaggins (Charlie Postance, 24), Steve Sargent, Marcus Elliott, Will Hoare (Capt.), Charles Ferguson: Subs: Jack Bray, Oshaye Hutchinson, Jack Meeres, Steve Springett
Referee: Isaac Searle
Assistant Referees: James Amadori, Turan Yesiliyurt