Cray Wanderers – 2019-20 season – That was the season that wasn’t – A Pictorial Review

Isthmian Premier – Game 14 – Saturday 2nd November

Cray Wanderers                         2          Taylor 30, Aguiar o. g. 90+6

Worthing                                   2          Aguiar 65, Leader o. g. 90+4

All pictures kindly provided by Jon Hilliger

The first meeting of the season between the sides that would be 1st and 2nd when the Isthmian Premier season ended in March. On a wet afternoon at Hayes Lane both teams served up a cracker with added late drama with two goals in injury time and a red card.

Before the game, Cray Wanderers chairman Gary Hillman who was in absentia in Yokohama for the Rugby Union World Cup Final was presented with an award from the club to celebrate 25 years as chairman. The award was collected on Gary’s behalf by his sons Billy, Jack and Charlie pictured along with Sam Wright.

Cray came into the game 7th with Worthing in 5th three points ahead of the Wands. Cray were returning to Hayes Lane after 3 successive unbeaten league games on the road and then two cup defeats. Cray were without the suspended Mitchell Nelson and Karl Dent.

Cray were the better side in the first half but lost Tom Phipp to an early injury and nearly fell behind when Lewis Carey’s goalkick was pounced upon by Alex Parson who then set up Ricky Aguiar whose shot was pushed round the post well by Carey.

The Wands though were beginning to get on top and Geofrey Okonkwo headed wide from a Bradley Pritchard cross and then Joe Taylor fired just over from 12 yards.

Cray took the lead on the half hour with a superbly crafted goal which saw at nearly every player touch the ball before Tom Carlse, Andre Coker and Pritchard combined to find Jerome Federico down the right and his ball across was inch perfect and Taylor slotted home for his 16th goal of the season.

The Pritchard stabbed wide from another Federico cross and was denied by a fine tackle inside the area before shooting. The Wands thought they has scored a second eight minutes later when Pritchard’s left wing corner seemed to go straight into the goal as keeper Nathan Ashmore came for the ball but the goal was chalked off presumably for a foul that wasn’t evident at the time.

Cray saw Federico go off with a hip injury but credit to Worthing though who played well in the early stages in the second half but didn’t create too many chances save an Alfie Young header over the bar and a Jesse Starkey effort was held by Carey.

In the 65th minute though Worthing drew level with a fine goal of their own when down the right, Cameron Tutt’s ball into the box was met well by Aguiar on the edge of the six yard box who found space to fire into the net and it was all square.

Cray had a second wind and Lee Lewis shot over from a free kick and Ben Mundele fired wide. Mundele was then desperately unlucky not to score when Carlse’ looping cross from the left towards the far post was driven across goal by Mundele and fractionally wide of goal.

The game was just looking like running down to a 1-1 draw when in the fourth minute of added on time, the Rebels went in front when a cross into the area was dropped by Carey and substitute Shola Ayoola turned the ball goalwards with the final touch going in off Jay Leader and it looked with Worthing had won the game.

Two minutes later though with the game not yet finished, Cray won a corner down the left and Pritchard’s ball across into a crowded box was hard to defend against and Carlse went up with Aguiar for the ball and went into the net off the Worthing striker and for the fourth league game in a row, Cray had fallen behind and recovered quickly.

There was still time with Worthing frustrated for Starkey to be sent off for dissent and then the game ended in frenetic fashion but in the end it was a 2-2 draw and a great advert for the Isthmian Premier.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Geofrey Okonkwo, Tom Phipp (Lee Lewis 12), Charlie Allen, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico (Ben Mundele 55), Andre Coker (Charles Etumnu 83), Joe Taylor: Subs: Joe Vines, Grant Hall

Att: 172

The Thoughts of Tony Russell

“I thought we just edged the game to be honest but Worthing certainly played their part in the game. Both sets of players respected the managers in terms of the way they wanted to play which made it a nice, open game with plenty of attacking play and high level of skill from both sets of players.  I thought a couple of key decisions didn’t go both sides way, ours was the disallowed goal from the corner.  We’ve watched the video back and there was no-one near the keeper and it’s gone through his hands while our equaliser in the last minute they can lay claim to a push in the back on their no 8 who puts through his own goal.  We’ve had the Ben Mundele chance before Worthing go in front when he put the ball wide of an open goal from an angle and second half I don’t remember Worthing testing Lewis Carey much.  It was a point gained and in no way did we dominate the game, we had more of the ball but they were very energetic and well coached and I enjoy those sort of games.  We had to work hard to try and press them and they tried to do the same to us and it nearly worked in the first half.  Then Bradley Pritchard has robbed their player and gone through on goal and the defender got back and made a superb tackle rather than give away a penalty.

(On Joe Taylor’s goal) It was funny as I think Charlie Allen was down injured at the time and we were a man less and I didn’t think Lewis realised, and we’ve gone forward from the back and they’ve cottoned on to that  so the overload which was working earlier was no longer there and they have pressed us and it was 1 v 1 so forced the boys into playing one touch football, we were in our own half down the left and then five one touch passes later we are into midfield, switched the ball out to Feds and he’s got it out of his feet, pushed it past the fullback and whipped a cross into JT who has crashed the ball into the net.  It was a great goal.

I thought their equaliser was a great goal too to be fair.  We’ve just finished a video session and spoke about it, it wasn’t just the finish, they’ve worked it well and the right back has played a great ball into the box, Ricky Aguiar who is on the move shooting across our centre-half to score the goal. Sometimes we pick the bones out of goals we concede and moan about them but on this occasion you just put your hands up and say well done.  Great movement, great finish, credit to them for that.

As well as that there was the Pritchard chance I mentioned earlier when the defender has made the last ditch tackle and also Geofrey Okonkwo header from five yards which went wide at 0-0. That’s why I thought we just shaded the game in terms of chances.  I thought we were the better side first half, they had a good twenty five minutes second half and we came on strong at the end and we looked the most likely winners and their goalkeeper has caught under the ball and Ben just has to sidefoot the ball in he puts it wide.  They go down the other end, Lewis Carey who has probably been one of our best players all season has just had a moment where he has dropped the ball and they score from it.  If the first goal was a good goal then they couldn’t really lay claim to that one and was scruffy and uncharacteristic on Lews part. I said to him that is the world of a goalkeeper, sometimes you make just one mistake and doesn’t always lead to a goal.

(On Cray’s last gasp leveller) Was it a corner? I don’t know if I’m honest but I’ve watched it back and Tom Carlse has pushed their guy in the back who after being shoved inadvertently puts the ball into his own goal.  We certainly deserved the luck on that one as earlier we had one where the goalkeeper has missed the corner and gone straight in.. I thought we did enough to win the game but Worthing are a good side and I said at the end to Adam Hinshelwood, I enjoyed it and those sort of tactical games, almost like a game of chess, they make a move and we are reacting and then they are countering. Worthing have worked out that Geofrey was a young player, playing because Mitchell was suspended and they started letting him have the ball and stopped Jay Leader from having it and pressed him and he did well and was a big moment for him and stood up to it and will learn from that.

(On Injuries) For Tom Phipp it is a hamstring injury but not the same hamstring as before and Feds is a hip-flexor. These are fatigue injuries and muscles are being worn out. You have to remember these guys work eight hours during a day time and have been playing three games a week plus the travelling involved.  With Tom Murphy as well we are likely to have players out for a period of between 3-6 weeks.  So now we have had to decide whether to bring someone in on loan which costs money and to get bodies in.

We’ve had a look at the stats and had a review with the players and had a nice open conversation about how the season has gone on a personal and team level of performance.  Out of 20 games the side has had to be changed fourteen times due to injuries. So only six games in all competitions that we’ve not had to change the side for the following game and only two where everyone has been available. It makes it even more remarkable that we find ourselves in 7th place in the table.

PITCHSIDE VIDEO – Please see here pre-game and match footage from the game expertly put together by Ozay Booth