Cray Wanderers vs Horsham

Isthmian Premier – Wednesday 16th August – Match Report

Pics:  Ben Keayes

Cray Wanderers                                          1

Cook 57

Horsham                                                      3

Strange 26, Price 42, Ajakaiye 90+6

Cray Wanderers first home game of the 2023-24 season ended in defeat as Horsham produced an impressive performance as the Wands started the campaign with back to back defeats.

After a slow start to the game where both teams had to make early substitutions Horsham went in front in the 26th minute when Jack Strange found space to power home a header from a Tom Richards corner.  The Hornets added a second three minutes before half time courtesy of full back Bobby Price.  Cray pulled a goal back before the hour through Anthony Cook and the first Wands goal of the season.  Both sides had opportunities towards the end but with Cray seeking a leveller, substitute Daniel Ajakaiye broke away in the sixth minute of injury time to slot home a third goal and a rare win at Cray in recent years.

Both sides lost their opening league games by the odd goal and from the side beaten at Lewes on Saturday there was one change to the starting lineup with George Porter coming in for Mason Saunders-Henry.   For Horsham, into the side from the defeat to Hornchurch were Sami El-Abd, Shamir Fenelon and Tom Richards for Harvey Sparks, Daniel Ajakaiye and Lee Harding.

Chances were at a premium in the early stages but Horsham were the first to threaten in the 3rd minute when from a free kick, Danny Barker found Fenelon down the left who took the ball round Shaun Rowley and directed an effort towards the far post which was headed off the line by Cameron Black.


The game became a bit disjointed in the early stages with both sides having to make early changes with Barker replaced by Kadell Daniel for Horsham and Porter went off after just quarter of an hour replaced by Anthony Cook. There was also a worrying moment with a clash of heads between Archy Taylor and Tom Richards but both were fit to resume

For Cray, Black glanced wide a free kick from Sam Wood down the left but were unable to fashion too many chances.

It was Horsham who took the lead in the 26th minute when following their first corner of the game down the right, Richards ball into the six yard box was met a firm header by Jack Strange and planted the ball into the net.

Horsham from here began to dominate and James Hammond played in Jack Mazzone down the right but his attempted near post shot was turned behind by Rowley.

The last quarter of an hour of the half saw an increase in tempo and for Cray, Cook fired in a shot from outside the area which was well fielded by ex-Wand Lewis Carey.

It should have been two nil shortly after when Richards cross from the left to the far post was tipped by Rowley and the ball came to Daniel whose effort was blocked by the Wands keeper.

The game was now going from end to end and Nyren Clunis was flicked through into the area but Carey did well to make a smothering save.

Then, three minutes before half time Horsham went two nil up when Bobby Price dispossessed Jamie Mascoll and strode forward towards goal and placed the ball wide of Rowley into the net.

WIth six minutes of added on time there was still time for Horsham to almost scored a third when Daniel down the left lofted the ball towards the far post for Mazzone who directed the ball towards goal but Rowley did superbly to guide the ball over the bar.

HT:  0-2

There was a change for Cray at the start of the second half with Cameron Thompson coming on for Yahya Bamba.  

It was a fairly scrappy start to the second half with the nearest opportunity falling to Horsham when Mazzone fired a shot well over.

However, Cray stuck at their task and pulled a goal back in the 57th minute when from a free kick down the right, Wood’s ball into the box was partially cleared out to Cook who from just inside the area hit a crisp shot which was perhaps deflected into the net.

Still though Horsham looked more threatening with Mazzone firing just wide of goal and then down the right broke into the area and his near post shot was turned behind by Rowley.

Cray though were very much in the game and came close to levelling when first Archy Taylor down the right hit a shot which Carey parried away.  Then Black powered a header wide of goal from a Wood corner.  At the other end from a free kick down the right, Charlie Harris’ cross came out to Daniel who volleyed well wide.

With four minutes to go Cook came close to turning the game around with another superb strike from 25 yards which only just went wide of the left post.

Cray continued to pour forward and in the third minute of injury time, Cook set up Nyren Clunis who from just inside the area placed a shot towards goal which Carey did well to save.

However, the final word on the night fell to Horsham and substitute Daniel Ajakaiye who received the ball just inside the Wands half and with a nifty turn broke away and on towards goal and with some aplomb tucked home his shot into the bottom left to seal what was a deserved win for the Hornets.

After a difficult first half, Cray at least added much more tempo to the second half and led to a decent under the lights contest.

For Cray, it is way too early to panic after two defeats but with the tough games coming thick and fast Billericay Town will provide more stern opposition on Saturday in what is looking like being a very open Isthmian Premier season.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Archy Taylor, Cameron Black, Jack Holland, Jamie Mascoll, Sam Wood, David Ijaha (Rio Campbell, 79), Nyren Clunis, Yahya Bamba (Cameron Thompson, H/T), Tom Derry, George Porter (Anthony Cook, 15):  Subs:  Tom Penfold, Mason Saunders-Henry

Booked: Taylor 62

Horsham: Lewis Carey, Bobby Price, Sami El-Abd, Doug Tuck, Jack Strange, Danny Barker (Kadell Daniel, 9 mins), James Hammond, Jack Brivio (Charlie Harris, 79), Jack Mazzone (Daniel Ajakaiye, 70), Shamir Fenelon, Tom Richards:  Subs:  Alex Malins, Lucas Rodrigues

Booked: Strange 18, Richards 90+2

Referee: Stuart Smith

Assistants: Josh Burns, Ryan Chatrill-Smith 

Att: 281