Cray Wanderers vs Kingstonian 

Isthmian Premier – Saturday 15th April – Match Report

Cray Wanderers                            2

 Sodje 11,  Jones 47

Kingstonian                                  0

Cray Wanderers remain in 5th place in the Isthmian Premier after victory against Kingstonian at Hayes Lane which puts Neil Smith’s side on 73 points, a point behind Aveley who have a game in hand and two ahead of Lewes in the battle to prolong the season by a week.

Early goals in each half, both resulting from Anthony Cook corners scored by Harrison Sodje and Jalen Jones gave Cray the edge and helped displace any early nerves.  Although Cray shaded the game overall, Wands Supporters Player of the Year Shaun Rowley made three excellent saves to prevent Kingstonian scoring and made it fourteen clean sheets for the season.

The win for Cray means that Enfield Town and Horsham can no longer make the playoffs and now move a point behind fourth placed Aveley who travel to Canvey Island on Tuesday night with Lewes still in the frame after beating Haringey Borough 4-0 who have 71 points.  Cray visit Haringey next Saturday while Lewes are at Canvey Island with Aveley at Enfield Town.  Despite the defeat Kingstonian avoided relegation after defeats for Bowers & Pitsea and Herne Bay meant the K’s finished comfortably six points clear on 39 points.

On a bright sunny afternoon there was a hubbub and a good atmosphere before the match and with both sides having something to play for the game started at a brisk pace.  Cray began well and came close after four minutes when Anthony Cook found Jephte Tanga who cut inside from the right and was unlucky to see his shot on target palmed superbly over the bar by Rob Tolfrey.

Three minutes later Kingstonian bared their teeth in attack and down the left, Darnell Goather-Braithwaite and Charlie Greenwood combined to set up ex-Wand Lee Lewis who hit a sweet strike just outside the D which Shaun Rowley got down well to save.

Cray though had begun well and in the 11th minute took the lead after Dajon Golding won a corner down the right.  From the kick, Cook’s ball into the box missed Jalen Jones and Freddie Carter but came to Harrison Sodje who chested the ball and struck a half volley which went into the net for his third goal in four games.

Kingstonian almost levelled five minutes later when down the right Michael Abnett laid the ball across into the area and came to Goather-Braithwaite whose shot was instinctively parried by Rowley and the ball was cleared.

The K’s came close again following the award of a free kick 25 yards from goal to the right and Lewis fired in a shot that looked to be going in but was touched behind brilliantly by Rowley.

After this Cray had a bit more control of the match and the excellent Tanga down the right set up Sam Wood for a snap shot which went wide of the left post.

Then down the left, Sodje put Destiny Oladipo through in the box but his shot lacked sufficient power and was saved by Tolfrey.  Then Oladipo twice saw efforts blocked from outside the area and as half time came news began to filter through of Enfield trailing and Lewes 3-0 up while for Kingstonian, both Bowers & Pitsea and Herne Bay were losing and both would have been content with their performances at the break.

HT:  1-0

The second half began with Cray on the front foot and after Matt Drage conceded a corner down the left, Cray scored a vital second goal.  From the corner, Cook’s ball into the box was glanced goalwards by Dan Bassett but Tolfrey made a great save to push the ball out but only as far as Jalen Jones who scored from close range and his second goal in successive games.

Kingstonian were still a threat and almost pulled a goal back when Goather-Braithwatire who was a livewire throughout was unlucky from Tom Collins pass down the left to fire a shot wide of the right post.

David Ijaha replaced Anthony Cook for the last thirty five minutes and on the hour Cray came close to a third when Nyren Clunis who had another fine game for the Wands was unlucky to see a cracking shot from outside the area crash back off the left post.

At the other end Kingstonian came close again when Goather-Braithwaite down the right saw his shot well saved by the legs of Rowley for another fine stop from the Wands keeper.

For the last twenty minutes Cray had much more control of the game with Yahaya Bamba coming on and making an impact and came close to scoring three times in a minute when Sam Wood saw a shot pushed out by Tolfrey, then the ball came out to the right to Clunis whose audacious cross-shot hit the angle of post and crossbar and finally came to Bamba whose shot was turned round the post for a corner.

Then with Marcus Sablier introduced and Cray looking to add a third goal late on, Sodje who had another excellent game showed his prowess from distance by hitting a shot which ruffled the side netting but a lot of the early intensity of the game had passed with both sides happy at the outcome with what was going on elsewhere..

In the end Cray had done enough to win the game and for the first time in the club’s long history going into the final game of an Isthmian Premier season with a chance of reaching the playoffs for the first time.  Kingstonian could breathe a sigh of relief as two late Wingate & Finchley goals sealed Herne Bay’s fate and can prepare for next season as an Isthmian Premier.

For Cray, there were many plusses with a fine team performance, especially from the back four with Rowley in inspired form between the sticks and went about their task professionally but with respect to Kingstonian’s qualities and it is now eight games unbeaten with seven wins and a draw and are guaranteed a highest ever league placing whatever happens next Saturday.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Jephte Tanga, Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter, Harrison Sodje, Sam Wood, Anthony Cook (David Ijaha, 56), Nyren Clunis, Dajon Golding (Yahaya Bamba, 71), Dan Bassett, Destiny Oladipo (Marcus Sablier, 82):  Subs:  Tom Derry, Rio Campbell

Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Lee Lewis, Hakeem Adelakun, Emmanuel Adebiyi, Matt Drage, Charlie Greenwood, Darnell Goather-Braithwaite, Michael Abnett (David Nyarko, 59), Tom Collins (Chidi Kande, 59), Alexander Solomon, Ibrahim Bangura (Sean Bonnett-Johnson, 71): Subs:  Alex MacAllister, Keane Anderson.

Booked: Goather-Braithwaite 73

Referee: Will Briers

Assistants: Thomas Price, Dominic Barrow


Att: 380