Cray Wanderers vs Wingate & Finchley – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 27th January, 3 pm – Match Report

Cray Wanderers                                1

Lockyer 6 mins

Wingate & Finchley                           0

Pics to follow

Cray Wanderers moved up to 16th in the Isthmian Premier after a first league win of 2024 completing a league double over promotion chasing Wingate & Finchley at Hayes Lane and made it twelve home games without defeat.

The winning goal came early but was worthy of winning any match in the sixth minute when Sam Wood’s left wing cross towards the far post found Ellis Brown who laid the ball across to Gary Lockyer who with an overhead kick found the bottom right corner from 8 yards for his 10th goal of the season.

Wingate & Finchley are a talented side and deservedly in the playoff places but Cray defended well throughout the ninety minutes and as the game went on came close to adding to the lead but finished the match well as Shaun Rowley made it five clean sheets in the last six home games to see out the win. 

Cray were playing the first league game since the defeat to Billericay two weeks ago but had beaten Fisher in the London Senior Cup in midweek.  From the side which began that game into the team came Sam Wood, Ellis Brown and David Ijaha for Charlie Paye, Jamie Mascoll and Tayo Oyebola.  Wingate & Finchley also last played on the 13th January and named an unchanged starting lineup from the team which beat Whitehawk.

On a bright afternoon the game began in fairly sedate fashion with a fair bit of sparring but the game sprung to life in the 6th minute when Cray took the lead when down the left, Sam Wood played a pass out to the right to Ellis Brown whose first cross was blocked but his second attempt into the area was met with a superb overhead kick from 10 yards by Gary Lockyer which beat Ben Goode and into the bottom right corner.

Wingate & Finchley enjoyed a lot of possession especially in the first half hour and sought a leveller when Elliot Long won the ball and from the edge of the area fired an effort over the top.  Then Alex Solomon and Long combined to set up Ruben Carvalho who curled a shot just over.

The game was moving along at a brisk pace and Rhamar Garrett-Douglas put a great cross into the box for Anointed Chukwu but couldn’t get a connection to the cross.  Also at the other end Lockyer set up Alfie Evans who attempted a volley but was half hit and went through to Goode.

For Cray, Tom Beere’s cross from the right fell to Yahya Bamba down the left and his volley was blocked by Mathew Achuba.  Wingate & Finchley though were still a threat and Long cut inside from the right and placed a shot over the bar.

In the 41st minute, Lockyer made a run forward and his shot from 30 yards was on target and Goode had to get down well to turn the ball aside.  Then right on half time, Lockyer was set up by Brown for a shot which took a deflection for a corner.

HT:  1-0

The second half began in lively fashion and for Cray, Beere and Lockyer down the left looked to set up Evans but his effort was blocked.

However, Wingate & Finchley moved up the other end and Garrett-Douglas broke into the area down the right and Shaun Rowley did well to block the shot and the ball was put behind for a corner.

A minute later, the visitors had the ball in the net when Carvalho hit a shot from twenty yards which looked maybe to get a deflection and past Rowley but after consultation with the Assistant referee the goal was disallowed for offside.

Wingate & Finchley were threatening and Ahmet Biler’s left wing cross for Long was headed behind by Tom Bonner for a corner. From the corner by Carvalho from the left into the box a flick on towards goal had Rowley scrambling and the ball was cleared away almost off the line.   Then, Carvalho cut inside from the left and shot wide of the right post.

After a tricky first quarter of an hour of the second half, Cray began to exert more control and Yahya Bamba was becoming a threat and made a fine run from midfield to just outside the area and shot over the bar.

Then from a free kick out on the left, Raymond’s ball into the box for David Ijaha led to Goode having to clear under pressure with his feet. This was followed by Bamba down the left setting up Evans for a mishit volley off target.

Cray played well in the second half and came close to a second when Bamba found Wood down the left and his cross to the far post was headed over by Lockyer.

Then Anthony Cook found space down the right of the area for a shot that was on target but well blocked by ex-Wand Ben Frempah and behind for a corner.  This was followed by Bamba setting up Lockyer for a first time shot wide of the right post.

For Wingate & Finchley, Biler’s cross was punched away well by Rowley and then from 30 yards lashed a shot over and Carvalho cut inside from the left and his shot from distance was well fielded by Rowley.

Going into the final few minutes the game went from end to end and Bamba found space outside the area but shot wide.  At the other Anointed Chukwu got behind the defence but Rowley did well to block before the striker could get a full connection to the shot.

Cray though saw out the remaining minutes well and Lockyer who had an excellent second half held the ball up and played through Bamba but the angle down the left was tight in the area and his ball to Evans was cleared.

Finally in the last of five minutes of additional time, down the right Ellis Brown set up Frankie Raymond who drove a shot over the bar.

In the end though Cray had played well and picked up a very well earned three points against a very good side and moved Neil Smith’s side onto 28 points, six points clear of Cheshunt and Margate and built on some good recent home performances against other playoff contenders and end January’s fixtures on a high.  This was a very good all round team performance, defensively solid and positive going forward and overall was an excellent victory against a very good side who always play on the front foot.

Cray next head to Carshalton Athletic next Saturday looking to keep up the momentum as the season goes into its final three months.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Emmanuel Kwatchey, David Ijaha, Tom Bonner, Alfie Evans, Frankie Raymond, Ellis Brown, Tom Beere (Anthony Cook, 61), Yahya Bamba, Gary Lockyer:  Subs:  Jamie Mascoll, Charlie Paye, Tayo Oyebola

Booked: Evans 81, Cook 86

Wingate & Finchley: Ben Goode, Alexander Solomon, William Cracknell (Will Seager, 78), Alkeo Bani (Che Krabbendam, 68), Ben Frempah, Matthew Achuba, Rhamar Garrett-Douglas, Ruben Carvalho, Anointed Chukwu, Elliot Long, Ahmet Biler:  Subs: Loic Hernandez, Christian Frimpong, Luke Ifil

Booked: Achuba 33, Solomon 56, Bani 60

Referee: Christopher Hastings

Assistants: James Goodman, Ryan Smith


Att: 140