Isthmian Premier – Wednesday 15th January, 2020
Cray Wanderers 1
Rollinson o. g. 44
Pics: Kindly provided by Jon Hilliger
It was honours even at Hayes Lane as playoff contenders Cray Wanderers and Hornchurch fought out a 1-1 draw in a superb, end to end game where football was the winner if neither of the sides could quite manage it.
After a bright start from Cray with Ben Mundele and Rhys Murrell-Williamson going close, Hornchurch were dangerous going forward and Lewis Carey made two big saves in the first 20 minutes to deny Adam Cunnington and Chris Dickson. With a minute to go in the first half, Hornchurch went in front when from a George Saunders corner, the ball was flicked goalwards by Jordan Clark but the ball was diverted into the net by Joel Rollinson. Cray though came back into it after Saunders hit the crossbar for the Urchins when Mundele unleashed a thunderbolt from 25 yards to level the scores and despite Cray having the better of the last 20 minutes couldn’t find a winner.
The teams came into the game level on points and in 6th and 5th place respectively and once the game started were equally evenly matched. From the side which won at Bowers & Pitsea on Saturday into the side came Lee Lewis and Charlie Allen in place of Tom Phipp and Tom Murphy. Aaron Rhule who recently returned to the club was on the bench for the Wands. Hornchurch were beaten by Aveley in the FA Trophy on Saturday but since then brought in former Bromley striker Adam Cunnington from Billericay Town on Tuesday to add power and height to their already impressive attack alongside 21 goal forward Chris Dickson.
Cray began the game confidently and brightly and from an early free kick out on the right, Bradley Pritchard’s ball into the box was aimed for Jay Leader and was deflected off Cunnington and behind for a corner. Then shortly after, Ben Mundele cut in from the right and his shot from 25 yards was well held by Joe Wright.
Cray had the first real chance of the game when Bradley Pritchard and a deft Joe Taylor flick set up Rhys Murrell-Williamson down the left of the penalty area but pulled his shot wide of the left post.
Hornchurch though looked strong going forward and came close when George Saunders right wing cross looked to be touched in at the far post by Chris Dickson but good defending by Mitchell Nelson knocked the ball behind and off goal. Then in a similar move, a flick header from Jordan Clark found Dickson and his cross to the far post for Cunnington was also diverted behind for a corner. Meanwhile at the other end, Mundele found Murrell-Williamson down the left of the area and his shot was well blocked by Ricky Hayles.
Cray though were indebted to Lewis Carey who made an excellent save when Charlie Allen was dispossessed by Dickson and he played a pass to Cunnington down the right of the area and Carey did well to save with his legs.
Then a rare stray pass from Pritchard was intercepted by Dickson and was through one on one on goal but Carey did superbly to turn his shot round the right post from 12 yards.
The game then became more even for a spell and then Joel Rollinson set up Barney Williams whose well hit shot was blocked inside the area and cleared. Then from a free kick down the right by the touchline, 20 yards from goal, Murrell-Williamson fired in a shot which only narrowly went past the left post.
Still Hornchurch threatened and another ball in from Saunders from the right was just short of a connection inside the area from Dickson. This was followed by a shot from Dickson down the right of the area which was fielded by Carey. Then a shot from 25 yards from Matt Johnson was deflected behind for a corner.
Cray were still well in the game and were a bit unlucky when good work down the left by Williams and Murrell-Williamson found Pritchard who broke into the area but couldn’t quite get his feet right to get in a shot and Wright was able to claim the ball.
With a couple of minutes showing before half time, Hornchurch ended the half well and Saunders and Dickson combined to set up Ronnie Winn whose shot from the left of the area was pushed out well by Carey and following up the ball was put behind for a corner. From that corner in the 44th minute, Hornchurch broke the deadlock. The left wing corner from Saunders towards the near post was helped on by Jordan Clark into the area and in a crowded goal mouth the ball went into the net off Rollinson.
Before the break, another shot from Dickson was fielded by Carey and Hornchurch led at the break after a breathless first half.
Cray were not too downhearted at being a goal down and were still very much in the match and early in the second half a corner from Pritchard down the right was met by Leader who got under the header and the ball was claimed by Wright.
Hornchurch came close to adding to their lead when a ball in from Johnson into the area found Dickson who did well to turn and find space in the area but pulled his shot wide of the left post.
For Cray, following a corner down the left the ball came out to Lee Lewis who let fly with a terrific shot from 30 yards which went just wide of the right post.
For the visitors though, they came closest yet when a ball forward by Wright was headed on by Cunnington to Saunders who from the on the left edge of the area lobbed the ball goalwards but came back off the crossbar. Then, Saunders found Clark who made a run into the area and his near post shot was parried away by Carey.
Cray were next on the attack and Charlie Allen and Taylor combined to set up Rollinson who from 18 yards shot wide down the right of the area. Then, for Hornchurch, Johnson’s shot from distance went wide of goal.
Another goal in the game was overdue and it came for Cray in the 69th minute and was well worth waiting for. There seemed to be nothing on when Pritchard won the ball in midfield and picking up the ball, Mundele made a run from just inside his own half down the right, cut inside and unleashed a crashing shot which beat Wright and hit the top left hand corner for his second goal of 2020.
Cray’s tails were now up and shortly after down the right, Taylor won the ball and set up Murrell-Williamson who shot wide of goal. Cray then had good possession and applied pressure with Williams and Rollinson combining for Mundele once again but this time from a similar position shot well wide. Meanwhile, for Hornchurch, Mickey Parcell fired well over the top.
The final minutes saw Cray apply more pressure without getting the break in the box and Rollinson’s left wing cross towards Taylor was well defended by Parcell and the ball was cleared.
Despite Cray’s best efforts they couldn’t quite claim a winner and in the dying minutes from a free kick down the left, 25 yards from goal, Lewis’s free kick came back off the wall and in the end the game was drawn which on the balance of the game was probably about the right outcome. The draw keeps Cray in 6th place level on 42 points with Carshalton Athletic and Hornchurch who go 4th on goal difference.
This was a tremendous game, well refereed and two sides who played with great passion and intensity but also great quality and a real credit to the game of football. Cray had a number of great performers including, Carey, Mundele, Williams, Nelson and Leader at the back, Allen and Pritchard while Taylor particularly in the later stages was proving a handful to the Hornchurch defence. Cray can take a lot of positives from the game against a side who will be there or thereabouts when the title and medals are handed out at the end of April with Cray’s last away game of the season at Hornchurch on 18th April.
Cray Wanderers next home match is on Saturday, 18th January when Lewes are the visitors to Hayes Lane, If that game is as good as this one it will be a real treat.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lee Lewis, Charlie Allen, Bradley Pritchard, Joel Rollinson (Aaron Rhule, 87), Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Jerome Federico, 77), Joe Taylor: Subs: Karl Dent, Geofrey Okonkwo, Grant Hall
Hornchurch: Joe Wright, Mickey Parcell, Remi Sutton, Ricky Hayles, Matt Johnson, George Saunders, Jordan Clark (Joe Christou, 69), Nathan Cooper, Ronnie Winn (Lewwis Spence, 70), Chris Dickson (Charlie Stimson, 79), Adam Cunnington: Subs: Arthur Lee, George Winn
Booked: Dickson, Spence, Cunnington
Referee: Scott Rudd
Assistants: Paul Agboola, Andrew Thomson
Attendance – 210