Bostik League South-East – Saturday 9th March, 2019
Cray Wanderers 2
Dadson 25, Taylor 57 (p)
Videos courtesy of Carl Newnham and Capturemast
Cray Wanderers continue to power ahead at the top of the Bostik South-East as the league leaders moved 16 points clear at the top after a highly polished victory against 2nd placed Horsham at Hayes Lane.
A goal in each half, firstly a fine finish from Junior Dadson on 25 minutes from Jerome Federico’s cross broke the deadlock and after Karl Dent was upended in the box, Joe Taylor converted from the spot on 57 minutes to make it 2-0. Horsham’s hopes were dealt a blow when Dan Pearse was sent off on 66 minutes for a foul on Federico and Cray were able to see out the game and pick up another three points and for Nick Blue to keep his 13th clean sheet of the season.
Horsham are the only side to beat Cray in the league this season back in December and this had the makings of a tough match for the Wands as two good sides in form locked horns on a blustery but thankfully dry day. It had the look from the opening minutes of the game that whoever scored the first goal would possibly win it with two good defences on show.
Cray had to make one change to the side which won at Phoenix Sports last Saturday with Sean Roberts coming in for Tom Phipp who picked up a knock in that game. On the bench for Cray was new signing, Tom Carlse who came to the Wands from Ashford United on Friday.
The Wands got off to a good start to the game with Ben Mundele making a tremendous run from the edge of his own box and made a strong run forward to just outside the penalty area and hit a well struck shot towards goal which was pushed away well by Josh Pelling in the Horsham goal in the 3rd minute.
Horsham showed their intent when a ball was played forward down the left to Rob O’Toole who scored a hat-trick in the earlier league meeting and charged into the area but was denied by good defending from Mitchell Nelson forcing the ball behind for a corner.
Cray looked to threaten again when Sean Roberts’ deft pass found Karl Dent in space but shot wide from 20 yards of the left post.
It was becoming an intriguing contest of cat and mouse for a short while but it was Horsham who almost went in front when good work down the right by Lee Harding ended with a ball into the box to O’Toole who teed himself up for a shot from 10 yards but was denied by a fine save by Nick Blue with his feet.
This proved to be a key stop as on 25 minutes Cray took the lead when Bradley Pritchard found Jerome Federico who was becoming more and more an influence in the game sped down the right past two defenders into the area and his ball across to the far post was unselfishly left by Joe Taylor and fell to Junior Dadson who with some style fired into the net from 8 yards for his 11th goal of the season.
Cray began to take a bit of control of the game and good combination play from Taylor, Archie Johnson and Dadson down the left put Pritchard through into the area but Pelling did well to block the ball behind for a corner.
Horsham exerted some pressure before half time and from a throw in down the right the ball came to Dan Pearse who hit a shot from 30 yards which was well held by Blue and Cray went in at the break a goal to the good.
Half Time: 1-0
The second half began with Cray looking assured and great play from the excellent Dent who exchanged passes with Pritchard and Dadson to break into the area and won a corner down the left. From the corner, Dent’s cross just flicked off the head of Jay Leader and away from goal.
Then from a free kick out on the right, Dent’s ball into the area was cleared out as far as Dadson who volleyed over the top.
Horsham were very much still in the game and down the right a throw in from Steven Metcalf came to Harding whose ball to the near post came off Kieran Lavery who perhaps couldn’t get a firm connection and was gathered by Blue.
On 57 minutes Cray had the chance to put daylight between the sides when after a neat passing move with Federico and Pritchard finding Leader who played the ball out to Johnson down the left whose ball into the box fell to Dent who looked to find space for a shot but was brought down by Joe Shelley and a penalty kick was given. From the spot, Taylor finished calmly to put Cray 2-0 up and was just reward for a positive start to the half.
From the kick off Horsham looked to get back into it and O’Toole down the left put a good ball across towards Harding but great defending from Johnson turned the ball behind for a corner.
Horsham’s hopes of a recovery were hampered on 66 minutes when Federico was fouled about 25 yards from goal by Pearse and was shown a straight red card.
Cray from here were able to manage the game in a professional manner while still looking to be creative and Pritchard set up Dadson for a shot which was blocked.
Horsham to their credit kept on going and almost pulled a goal back when Lavery’s ball out to the left to Harvey Sparks ended with a well struck shot from the edge of the area which was well held by Blue.
Tom Carlse came on after 70 minutes to make his Wands debut and slotted into thing very efficiently and Cray by now were in calm control of the game.
As the game wore on Cray threatened and Dadson this time down the right saw a shot at the near post gathered by Pelling. Pritchard won a corner down the right from which his corner into the box was met by the head of Leader but his header was cleared off the line by Shelley.
Then Mundele played the ball forward to Taylor who exchanged passes with substitute Freddie Parker and found Johnson down the left who found space but shot wide of the left post from the edge of the area. Then Dadson made a run forward and shot over the top.
Before the end, Horsham were awarded a free kick out on the right edge of the area and Chris Smith curled the ball into the arms of Blue who has now played 3000 minutes of football for Cray this season.
The last chance of the game for Cray came in stoppage time when Dadson saw a shot from 15 yards pushed behind by Pelling but the game had really long been won and Cray now move on to 71 points and surged ahead of the table by 16 points with 8 matches to play.
Cray Wanderers played very well today and gave one of their most accomplished home performances in a match with a lot at stake with everyone putting in top performances against a side which deserves to be where they are in the table and Dominic Di Paola’s team will continue to rack up points as the season goes on and serious playoff contenders.
There is a great team spirit and belief about Tony Russell’s side right now which make them such a great team to watch. Strong and resolute at the back but never over physical, an excellent midfield, pace down the wings and the unselfish work of Taylor upfront there is a great balance and poise in the side which is a joy to see.
The big games keep coming and next Saturday sees Cray travel to 4th placed Hastings United who are 18 points behind the Wands and should be a great contest between two good footballing sides.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Archie Johnson, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Bradley Pritchard, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Freddie Parker, 77), Joe Taylor, Junior Dadson, Jerome Federico (Tom Carlse, 70): Subs: Daniel Uchechi, Donnell Anderson, Joe Vines
Horsham: Josh Pelling, Lewis Hyde (Steven Metcalf, 33), Harvey Sparks, Dan Pearse, Joe Shelley, Dylan Merchant-Simmons, Jack Brivio (Capt.) (Tyrell Richardson-Brown, 64), George Hayward, Rob O’Toole, Kieran Lavery (Chris Smith, 74), Lee Harding: Subs: Dean Lovegrove, Dan Hogan
Sent Off: Pearse 66
Booked: Hayward, Harding, Sparks
Referee: Isaac Searle
Assistants: Matthew Charles, Robert Columb