Cray Wanderers vs Enfield Town

Isthmian Premier – Friday 29th December – Match Report 

Cray Wanderers                                                       2

 Oyebola 26, Brown 58

Enfield Town                                                            0

Cray Wanderers ended 2023 with a first ever home win vs Enfield Town which boosted the Wands hopes of moving away from the bottom four against promotion chasing Town.

Cray had drawn the last four home games but along with Enfield Town had lost only one of the last seven matches but the Wands who went into the game in 17th place belied their lowly league position with perhaps the finest home performance of the season so far with a goal in each half from debutant Tayo Oyebola and Ellis Brown.

The Wands were looking to build on Boxing Day’s goalless draw with Margate and from the side which started that game into the side came Sam Wood for George Porter and Tayo Oyebola, signed from Hastings United for Yahya Bamba who was injured before the end of the Margate game.   Enfield Town who won 2-1 at Cheshunt on Boxing Day made one change with Joshua Okotcha coming in for James Richmond.

Enfield in 3rd place began the game confidently and in the 2nd minute a cross from the left by Marcus Wyllie went across the box and came out to Mickey Parcell who saw his effort charged down.

Then from a free kick played into the area the ball was headed out to Sam Youngs who shot over the top.

In the 11th minute, Enfield came close again this time when Youngs down the left hit a well struck shot which Rowley did very well to turn behind for a corner.  From the corner from the right the ball was met by the head of Joshua Okotcha but Raymond did well to head off the line.

For Cray, Gary Lockyer who had an impressive game up front found space to shoot from outside the box but wide of the right post.

There was a blow for Cray in the 19th minute when Jack Holland had to go off with what looked like a thigh injury and was replaced by Alfie Evans.  David Ijaha as he has done on a handful of occasions filled in as centre-half alongside Cameron Black.

Enfield came close three minutes later when Oliver Knight’s cross from the right into the area for Reece Beckles-Richards was turned behind by a fine defensive challenge from Black for a corner.  From the corner the ball was headed over by Youngs.

In the 26th minute, Cray went ahead when after a free kick down the right of the area, Raymond’s ball into the area was met by a deft header from Oyebola which looped over Rhys Forster and into the net for a goal on his debut.

The rest of the half was fairly scrappy with Oyebola glancing wide from a Raymond left wing corner while at the other end a left wing cross from Knight was glanced wide by Okotcha for Enfield.

The last action of the first half saw Lockyer flash a cross shot wide down the left while for Enfield, Wyllie found space outside the area to hit a shot which was well held by Rowley.

HT:  1-0

Enfield began the second half with plenty of possession but defensively Cray were excellent with Black and Ijaha in the middle, the two full backs, Emmanuel Kwatchey and Jamie Mascoll giving great support while Sam Wood and Frankie Raymond gave great defensive cover.

Up front, Lockyer was also proving a major threat and from Alfie Evans pass played a fine ball in from the right for Ellis Brown in the area but couldn’t get a firm connection to the shot.  Then Lockyer found space and hit a well struck shot from outside the area which went just wide of the left post.

In the 58th minute, Cray scored a second when Rowley played the ball forward and Lockyer won a flick on which put Brown through down the left and smashed home an unstoppable finish past Forster for his fifth goal of the season.

Enfield continued to try and find a way back into the game but despite some spells of pressure, Rowley was pretty well protected aside from having to collect two or three crosses.

As the game went on the Wands grew more confident in attack and it was almost three nil when Lockyer found Brown again this time with a side foot pass but from just inside the area placed a shot wide of the right post.

Cray introduced George Brooke from off the bench for the last twenty minutes and gave a terrific cameo performance making jinking runs forward and helping the Wands keep possession in the Enfield Town half of the field.

Enfield had a half chance when a pass was played into the area and met by Johnathan Hipployte but nicked off a Wands defender and looped over for a corner.

For Cray, Evans who grew in stature as the game went on hit a shot from 25 yards with power which was well held by Forster.  Then Sam Wood, who also had a terrific game, fired in a shot from distance that was saved by Forster.

There was five minutes additional time added on but Cray held firm and came close to a third when Lockyer who deserved a goal for his display was found by Brown but his shot was parried away by Forster.

In the end Cray held out for a win that was the first since November 11th but was hugely merited against a very good attacking side and was a superb all round team performance. Considering the difficulties of the last few days with the Yahya Bamba injury on Tuesday and then another this evening for Jack Holland the whole team showed character and resilience to win the game.

The win moved Cray up to 16th on 23 points and next go into another tough home game on New Years Day against Hastings United but can do so with confidence and hope to start 2024 the same way they ended 2023 with another three points.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Emmanuel Kwatchey, Cameron Black, Jack Holland (Alfie Evans, 19), Jamie Mascoll, David Ijaha, Sam Wood, Frankie Raymond, Ellis Brown, Tayo Oyebola (George Brooke, 77), Gary Lockyer:  Subs:  Cameron Thompson, Antonio Dembele, Tone Kusel-Gabriel

Booked: Lockyer

Enfield Town: Rhys Forster, Mickey Parcell, Joseph Payne, Scott Thomas, Tailor McKenzie, Joshua Okotcha, Sam Youngs, Dylan Adjei-Hersey (Lewis Taaffe, 61), Oliver Knight, Marcus Wyllie, Reece Beckles-Richards (Jonathan Hippolyte, 64:  Subs:  Leo Donnellan, Gucci Soulya-Osekanongo, Adi Connolly.

Referee: Charlie Roberts

Assistants: Fabien Le Houezec, Gulam Danji

Att:  307