Cray Wanderers vs. Bowers & Pitsea – Isthmian Premier – Sunday 20th March
Cray Wanderers 3
Bowers & Pitsea 4
Pics: Jon Hilliger/www.hilligerpix.com
Cray Wanderers Isthmian Premier survival hopes took a knock in a topsy-turvy contest with Bowers & Pitsea which ended with the Essex side winning by the odd goal in seven.
Cray who came into the game in 20th place on 32 points and four behind 17th placed Bowers & Pitsea showed good resolve to come back from 0-2 down to lead 3-2 by the 79th minute but conceded two goals in the last ten minutes and couldn’t grab another leveler in the remaining moments of the game.
Bowers & Pitsea were unbeaten in their last five away league games and started confidently and went ahead in the 8th minute with a fortuitous goal as Max Cornhill’s shot from 30 yards was deflected into the net off Tom Hanfrey. Cornhill was involved again in the 39th minute when his ball into the box was well saved by Joe Wright but Jamie Dicks was on hand to score at the second attempt. However, two minutes before half time Cray had a lifeline when Anthony Cook was brought down in the area and stroked home a spot kick to reduce the arrears.
Cray leveled just before the hour with a terrific strike from Jacob Munting, his first for the club with a shot from just outside the area. Cray were looking the more likely winners and took the lead in the 79th minute when substitute Narcis-Florin Filip also got off the mark for the club with a quality finish from 10 yards. Cray though were never comfortable and two minutes later Lewis Manor who was a constant threat upfront saw his shot well saved by Wright but Cornhill knocked home the rebound. A draw would have seen Cray move up to 18th but three minutes from time a cross from the left found Bowers substitute Percy Carvalho who curled a low shot into the bottom left corner to clinch the three points.
The Wands were looking to build on last Saturday’s win at Bognor Regis Town and from the side which started on the South Coast into the side came Jacob Munting and Soul Kader in place of the injured Jamie Yila and Cameron Brodie. Kyel Reid who had missed the previous three games through injury was recalled to the bench. For Bowers & Pitsea there were two changes to the side beaten at home by Folkestone Invicta last Saturday with Max Cornhill and George Wind coming in for Daniel Trendall and Danny Norton.
On a bright almost Spring like Sunday afternoon the game was played at a considerable pace throughout and Cray created the first half opening in the 5th minute when former Bowers player Luca Albon played a ball through to Chris Dickson down the left of the area but keeper Mitchell Beeney did well to block the shot and went from a corner. From the corner, Sam Wood’s header was well claimed by Beeney.
Bowers though were the first to make the breakthrough in the 8th minute when Cornhill found space shy of 30 yards from goal and his shot perhaps was going off target but took a strong deflection off Tom Hanfrey which wrong footed Joe Wright and into the net.
Rob Small’s side came close again when Quentin Monville who shot wide while for Cray, Wood put over a good cross which Beeney did well to claim.
In the 17th minute Cray looked to get back into it and Cook and Wood combined to set up Munting for a shot from just outside the area which was well fielded by Beeney and shortly after Munting fired over.
After a quiet few minutes the game sprung into life when just before the half hour from a free kick down the left of the area, Monville fired across goal and then Munting found Anthony Cook in space and shot just wide of the left post. Then Bowers came close to making it 2-0 when Monville down the right of the area saw his shot deflect off a post possibly via a touch from Wright for a corner. Then for Bowers a cross from Monville down the right was met by the head of Lewis Manor but was well gathered by Wright.
Cray won a couple of corners but Bowers were getting on top at this stage and scored a second goal in the 39th minute when following a Monville throw in down the left Cornhill’s cross-shot from the left of the area was pushed out by Wright, and James Dicks’ initial shot was blocked but managed to turn in the rebound.
Two minutes before half time though Grant Basey’s side got a chance to get back into the game when Albon found Nazir Bakrin down the right who did well to turn into the area and lay the ball across to Cook who was brought down by Monville for the award of a penalty. Cook stroked home his 12th goal of the season firing into the bottom right to make it 2-1.
Before half time there was still time for Bowers to almost score again when Michael Ademiluyi down the right swung over a cross which Wright couldn’t claim and Hanfrey cleared off the line.
At the interval there was a change for Cray with Kyel Reid coming on for Luca Albon. Reid’s experience and quality added plenty to the attacking play of Cray in the second half but Cray were having more of the ball but the half began a little scrappy with Bowers perhaps off the pace compared to their first half performance.
In the 59th minute Cray drew level with a quality goal when Reid found Munting in midfield with the ball who strode forward and with a powerful shot fired low into the bottom left from 20 yards to get off the mark for Cray and make it 2-2.
Cray were now looking the better side and Dickson came close a minute later with a shot down the right which Beeney saved. The Wands forced corners down the left and looked lively going forward.
With eleven minutes to go Cray completed the turnaround when Freddy Barton and Reid combined down the right to set up substitute Narcis-Florin Filip who got to the ball ahead of Dickson to fire past Beeney into the bottom right corner to make it 3-2 and raised the excitement level around Hayes Lane.
Cray though were never comfortable during the game with the threat of 20 goal Lewis Manor and in the 81st minute with Cray not perhaps reset after going ahead were caught and Manor saw his shot down the left pushed out by Wright but Cornhill who had a good game for Bowers & Pitsea reacted quickest to fire home from 7 yards and make it 3-3.
The game was now going from end to end and Cook came close with a shot which went just past the right post.
Cray though were caught with a sucker punch in the 87th minute when Bowers regained the lead when the ball was worked down the left and the ball across came to substitute Percy De Carvalho who curled a low shot into the bottom left corner past Wright to make it 4-3 to the Essex side.
There was still six minutes added on time and Cray came close to making it 4-4 when from a right wing corner from Sam Wood was headed over the top by Dickson. Then Cook shot wide from distance but there was no more time for Cray and in the end were beaten on a draining afternoon.
Certainly Cray have been involved in some exciting games this season but despite dominating most of the second half and taking the lead came away with nothing and remain 20th but still have much to play for with six more matches including a home game with Kingstonian on Saturday. Jacob Munting gave a fine performance in midfield and notched his first goal for the club while Kyel Reid’s introduction gave the team fresh impetus and Narcis-Florin Filip took his goal well which will give him confidence going forward. Perhaps a dull 1-0 win on Saturday will suffice rather than another non-stop goalfest
Cray Wanderers: Joe Wright, Freddy Barton, Nazir Bakrin, Tom Hanfrey, Kasim Aidoo, Jacob Munting, Luca Albon (Kyel Reid, H/T), Sam Wood, Anthony Cook (Capt.), Soul Kader (Narcis-Florin Filip, 64): Subs: Denzel Williams, Eniola Hassan, James Town
Scorers: Cook 43 pen, Munting 59, Filip 79
Bowers & Pitsea: Mitchell Beeney, Alex Bentley, Thomas Stephen, George Wind, James White, James Dicks (Declan Nche, 77), Quentin Monville, Max Cornhill, Joshua Rusoke (Pedro De Carvalho, 76), Michael Ademiluyi (Adetayo Adedoja, 80), Lewis Manor: Subs: Ben Steward, Mitchell Gilby
Scorers: Hanfrey o. g. 8 mins, Dicks 39, Cornhill 81, De Carvalho 87
Booked: Monville 90+3
Referee: Robert Claussen