Bostik League South-East – 11th November 2018
Cray Wanderers 2
Ocran 44, Phipp 56
Hastings United 1
Williams o. g. 57
Photos kindly provided by Jon Hilliger
Cray Wanderers moved ten points clear at the top of the Bostik South-East after a tremendous, hard fought victory against 2nd placed Hastings United at Hayes Lane.
A pulsating contest from the off saw Hastings shade most of the first half on chances including two goal line clearances from Barney Williams before Cray went ahead on the stroke of half time with a well taken goal from loanee debutant Wilberforce Ocran. Cray had the better of the second half and went two nil up following a superb strike from Tom Phipp on 56 minutes. Hastings pulled a goal back a minute later when Williams diverted a corner into his own net but Cray dug deep to pick up a big three points against a good side.
There was one change to the starting line up from the side which won late at Haywards Heath Town last Saturday with Wilberforce Ocran, with Cray on a month’s loan from Charlton Athletic coming in for Freddie Parker.
Cray were unbeaten after 11 league games and Hastings just one defeat in nine games and in front of the biggest crowd of the season the fans were to witness on Remembrance Sunday a game certainly to live in the memory.
Hastings began the game confidently and had the first shooting chance with Sam Adams firing wide from 25 yards.
Cray thought they had made an early breakthrough in the fourth minute when Bradley Pritchard turned the ball into the net but Junior Dadson was ruled offside as the ball nestled in the net.
Hastings went back up the other end and the lively Ajakaiye down the right set up Lanre Azeez who from 12 yards saw his shot saved by the feet of Nick Blue.
Cray were playing well and the impressive Tom Phipp played in Jerome Federico down the right who cut into the area and his near post cross was blocked by keeper Charlie Horlock. From the corner, Pritchard’s cross was glanced over the top by Ocran.
Then from another corner from the left the ball was flicked back by Mitchell Nelson to Junior Dadson who hit a first time shot from the edge of the D which Horlock got down to save after nine minutes.
From here Hastings had a good spell and looked menacing going forward. Firstly a cross from the right from Adams was glanced wide of the left post by Jack Dixon. Then they had a good chance when Azeez played a ball across from close to the by line to Ajakaiye who was denied by a fine blocked save from Blue.
The from a left wing corner, Tom Climpson headed off target and then from Emmanuel Mensah’s pass Adams shot just over from the edge of the area. Then from another corner to the near post Ajakaiye steered the ball wide of the right post.
For Cray, Sean Roberts and Jerome Federico combined to set up a shooting chance for Pritchard who saw a low drive blocked by a defender. Then a free kick from Pritchard floated in was glanced wide by Nelson.
Hastings then created the best chance of the game when Ajakaiye worked his way into the area and unselfishly set up Yousseff Bamba who saw his goal bound shot headed off the line by Williams.
Incredibly shortly after Bamba found Dixon who seemed certain to score from 12 yards but Williams cleared off the line once again.
The Wands had perhaps rode their luck a little there but just before half-time Cray began to stem the tide and on 44 minutes took the lead. The ball was worked down the left via Dadson and Pritchard and Ben Mundele put in a cross which was headed on by Phipp inside the area, deflected off Sam Beale into the path of Ocran who turned the ball in from six yards for a debut goal.
This was the perfect way to end the first half for Cray but Hastings had played very well and and very much still in the game.
Half Time: 1-0
The second half began similar to the first for Cray with an early effort ruled out for offside when Federico’s right wing cross to the far post saw Ocran outjump a defender to steer an impressive header into the net but must have strayed fractionally offside.
This was followed by a Pritchard ball into the box falling to Ocran who volleyed against the angle of post and crossbar as Cray sought out a second goal.
In the 56th minute, the second goal arrived for Cray and in some style as Federico strode forward and played the ball to Phipp who crashed home an unstoppable first time shot from 18 yards which flew past Horlock for his second goal of the season.
Hastings though showed their mettle and got back into the game a minute later. They won a corner down the left and Bamba’s ball to the near post was steered into the net by Williams to make it game on once again.
The visitors had a spell where they threatened a leveller but their best chance came to Beale who made a good run forward and hit a shot from 20 yards which Blue got down to save.
That in fairness was possibly their last real opportunity of the game as Cray played extremely well for the last half hour and the game started to see some stern tackling from Hastings and four cautions but Cray kept going looking to find the goal to give them breathing space.
Cray thought they had scored a third when Federico who had an excellent second half down the right got into the area and fired in a cross-shot which Horlock just touched round the post for a corner.
Chances were few and far between in the latter stages but Cray almost grabbed a third when Mundele put Freddie Parker in on goal, but Horlock came out to clear the ball with his head. From the clearance Pritchard put Parker in again down the left but Horlock did brilliantly to come out and block and the chance went away.
Cray defended well in the closing minutes and had done well to turn the tide in the second half after the Hastings threat of the first half and the Wands picked up their eleventh win out of twelve in the league. Despite the ten point lead at the top, Hastings do have a couple of games in hand and no league was ever won in November and there are many good teams in the Bostik South-East capable of closing the gap.
In the meantime though this was a big three points against a good side and showed Cray’s toughness nurtured in the early weeks of the season. Cray are next in action against Charlton Athletic in the Kent Senior Cup on Wednesday, then away to Guernsey on Saturday which will be another tough test.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams (Capt), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp, Sean Roberts, Bradley Pritchard, Wilberforce Ocran (Freddie Parker, 72), Junior Dadson, Jerome Federico (Archie Johnson, 88): Subs: Malik Solebo, Karl Dent, Zak Henry
Hastings United: Charlie Horlock, Emmanuel Mensha, Sam Beale, Tom Climpson, Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, Hassan Ibrahim (Sam Cruttwell, 67), Sam Adams (Capt,), Lanre Azeez, Youssef Bamba (Dajon Golding, 80), Jack Dixon, Daniel Ajakaiye
Booked: Ibrahim, Climpson, Dixon, Cruttwell
Referee: Jack Oxenham
Assistants: Fernando Costache, Alperen Nayir