Cray Wanderers vs. Kingstonian – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 26th March
Cray Wanderers 1
Pics: Jon Hilliger/wwwl.hilligerpix.com
Cray Wanderers Isthmian Premier survival hopes remain in the balance as Neil Smith’s first game in charge ended in a third straight home defeat at Kingstonian came from behind to win and leave Cray in 20th place with five matches to go.
Cray began the game well and deserved the lead given by Anthony Cook’s deflected free kick in the 18th minute but were pegged back two minutes later when Daniel Ajakaiye tapped in from a couple of yards from a Teo Kurtaran cross. Kingstonian started the second half well and substitute Walter Figueria slotted home well when Cray couldn’t clear a Kenny Beaney corner kick. Cray came close to scoring in the last 25 minutes through Jamie Yila, Sam Wood, Kyel Reid and Chris Dickson but Kingstonian held firm to win the game.
On a bright late March afternoon and on non-league day there was a positive atmosphere around Hayes Lane as two former Bromley managers in the dugout, Neil Smith and Hayden Bird locked horns although there was a bit more tension when the game kicked off.
For Cray there were a handful of changes to the side which were beaten by Bowers & Pitsea on Sunday with Ethan Kaiser and Jamie Yila returning from injury and new signing from Sevenoaks Town Jedd Smith in midfield in place of Luca Albon, Soul Kader and Jacob Munting who has since departed to Walton Casuals. On the bench for Cray were two former players who signed on Thursday, winger Tom Bolarinwa and goalkeeper Max Huxter. Kingstonian who had a difficult run in the league with nine games without a win had picked up four points in the last two games and from the side which drew with Bowers & Pitsea on Wednesday Eze Ebuzoeme, Kershaney Samuels, Declan Skura, D’Sean Theobalds & Alex Addai came in for Nyren Clunis, Ollie Cook, Fabio Saravia, Alfie Young and Walter Figueira.
Cray began the game with good purpose and Smith saw an early effort blocked and threatened when Chris Dickson’s cross from the left to the far post was put behind for a corner. Then Dickson found Smith down the left and his cross to the far post was flicked across by Sam Wood and was blocked.
Cray came close again when Anthony Cook’s pass from midfield was played into the path of Sam Wood inside the area but couldn’t connect fully with his half volley and went away from goal.
In the 18th minute Cray Wanderers took the lead when following the award of a free kick down the left around 25 yards from goal Cook’s shot took a deflection which sent the ball past Julian Schwarzer and into the net.
A recurring theme of Cray Wanderers season to date has been an inability to hang on to a lead once scoring and two minutes later Kingstonian leveled the scores with their first real chance and down the right Teo Kurtaran close to the by-line cut the ball across where Daniel Ajakaiye was on hand to turn the ball in from a couple of yards.
In the 33rd minute Cray almost went back in front when Smith played a fine ball out to Cook down the right who found space and fired a shot just past the left post.
Smith picked up a knock but looked lively during the game and was replaced by Tom Bolarinwas in the 34th minute.
The game just began to get a bit scrappy before half time but Cray did come close to scoring when Wood down the left fizzed a ball across the box which Dickson just couldn’t get on the end of.
Kingstonian made a couple of changes at half time with Walter Figueria and Alfie Young coming on and they made a sharp start to the half and Alex Addai came close with a cross shot from the right which just went past the left post.
In the 55th minute, the K’s took the lead when from a corner down the right, Kenny Beaney ball into the box was only half cleared out and came to Figueria who turned the ball in from 12 yards for a classy finish.
Kingstonian were defending resolutely and chances were few for a while for Cray but in the last 25 minutes began to post more of a threat.
Jamie Yila combined well with Wood to break into the area down the left and was unlucky to see his attempted near post shot deflected over by Alfie Young for a corner.
Then down the right Cook found Dickson just inside the area whose shot was blocked by Young and the follow up shot from Wood was charged down and behind for a corner.
From the corner the ball eventually came to Kyel Reid who came on for Bolarinwas on the hour and his fine strike from distance hit the top of the crossbar and over although it did appear that Schwarzer got a touch to the ball.
Kingstonian didn’t have too many attacks but were awarded a free kick in a decent position down the left of the area but Beaney’s shot went over the bar,
Cray continued to push forward but couldn’t quite create that big chance that could have produced a goal and a point. There was a concerning moment when Figueria collided with Joe Wright which led to a head wound for the Wands keeper and led to seven minutes added on time.
Cray came desperately close to getting a point when Dickson down the left of the area hit a shot goalward which was cleared off the line and came to Ethan Kaiser whose shot was well saved by Schwarzer and the follow up was blocked.
Kingstonian managed the final minutes very well and Cray who had good spells through the match just couldn’t find a goal and Kingstonian claimed the three points.
It wasn’t a classic match and one with few goal scoring chances but was compelling throughout but Cray despite their best endeavors couldn’t find the equaliser perhaps their approach play deserved but in the Kingstonian return home with three points.
Cray next Saturday face a crunch match at Leatherhead who are one place and four points behind the Wands as Cray enter the final month of the season with five matches including three against teams in the top 5 and the bottom two so plenty of tension and drama guaranteed in the next four weeks.
Cray Wanderers: Joe Wright, Freddy Barton, Nazir Bakrin, Ethan Kaiser, Tom Hanfrey, Kasim Aidoo, Jedd Smith (Tom Bolarinwa, 34, Kyel Reid, 60), Sam Wood, Anthony 7Cook (Capt.), Jamie Yila (Narcis-Florin Filip, 76), Chris Dickson: Subs: Richie Danquah, Max Huxter
Scorers: Cook 18
Kingstonian: Julian Schwarzer, Gus Sow, Eze Ebuzoeme, Simon Cooper, Declan Skura, (Alfie Young, H/T), Kenny Beaney, Kershaney Samuels, D’sean Theobalds, Daniel Ajakaiye, Teo Kurtaran (Walter Figueira, H/T), Alex Addai (Lewis Perch, 77): Subs: Jordan Wilson, Serine Sanneh
Scorers: Ajakaiye 20, Figueira 55
Booked: Theobalds, Addai, Beaney
Referee: Kane Dempster
Assistants: Ben Al-Sheikh, Teddy Osborn