Ryman League Division One South – 19/11/16
Cray Wanderers 3
Luchford 82, Haynes 84, Dawson 90
Sterling-Parker 43, 64
Once again Cray Wanderers showed remarkable powers of recovery for the second straight league game to come back from 2-0 down late in the game to this time record an unlikely 3-2 victory against Chipstead at Hayes Lane.
There was little indication of the late drama to come as Chipstead were the better side first half and took the lead through prolific Raheem Sterling-Parker before the break and also hit the crossbar. Cray played better in the second half but fell further behind to a controversial breakaway goal from Sterling-Parker. With eight minutes to go, Cray still trailed but within two minutes had levelled the scores through Dane Luchford’s first goal for the Wands and then through Danny Haynes strike. Brandon Scott then saw a shot deflected onto the post before with the game heading for stoppage time, captain Lea Dawson found himself inside the box and steered the ball into the net for a dramatic three points.
The Wands were rather unfortunate to lose on Sunday against Worthing in the FA Trophy but hadn’t won for three league games and were looking to get a winning league run going. From the side which played Worthing, Jai McKinlay started in place of the injured Paul Lorraine whilst Sol Taiwo came in for Sean Roberts.
Chipstead came into the game on the back of a 0-7 defeat at home to Tooting and Mitcham United but looked a better side than that and with Cray perhaps not at their most fluent had the better of a rather lacklustre first half.
The game started very brightly with Cray on the attack early on. Ben Mundele played in Brandon Scott down the right who inside the area played the ball across goal which was cleared off the line. Then Karl Dent set up Haynes who hit a shot wide of goal from twenty yards.
Chipstead showed their qualities and Scott Simpson slipped a ball through to Sterling-Parker who strode on but fired a shot wide with more time than he realised. Then Chris O’Flaherty hit a shot well wide of goal from twenty five yards.
In the fifteenth minute, Cray created their best chance of the game when Scott played in Haynes down the right who set up Lee Prescott who in turn teed up Lea Dawson whose shot lacked power and was gathered by former Cray goalkeeper Luke Colquhoun. A few minutes later a ball into the box from the left found the head of McKinlay but went straight through to the keeper.
There was a blow for Cray when the lively Mundele went off injured and was replaced by Ade Osifuwa in the 18th minute.
Chipstead forced a number of corners during the first half and from and from the right the ball fell to Tommy Smith who blazed a shot well wide. Then Chipstead were unlucky when Simpson found Sterling-Parker down the left who cut inside and curled a shot which fizzed narrowly past Nick Blue’s right post.
The game then went through something of a lull with the ball given away quite a lot by both sides. Blue though showed his bravery to dive at the feet of Karl Parker from Callum MacLean’s through ball and seemed to have took a knock but recovered well after treatment.
For Cray a couple of shots were blocked in quick succession firstly from Dawson’s strike and then from Scott which went behind for a corner.
The game appeared to be meandering towards a goalless first half before Chipstead took the lead with something of a soft goal in the 43rd minute. From a free kick the ball was played forward by O’Flaherty and led to a defensive mix up and Rob Hastings stole in to side foot the ball to Sterling-Parker who rolled the ball into the net for his twelfth goal of the season.
Then with the half in stoppage time, Chipstead were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area and MacLean’s strike came thudding back off the crossbar and the ball was cleared.
Half Time: 0-1
The Wands were looking for an improvement in the second half but early on it was Chipstead who came close to scoring again. A corner from the left from O’Flaherty found MacLean whose header was parried by Blue.
Cray were struggling to get things going forward but Haynes tried his luck from the left edge of the penalty area but drove his shot wide.
Cray made a change with Dane Luchford coming on in the 53rd minute and straight away he was involved and down the left he found Dawson who squared the ball to Dent but off balance slightly fired wide of goal.
The Wands were now starting to get some joy as Chipstead found it hard to get possession and Dent and Scott combined to play in Haynes whose strike was well blocked by Colquhoun and from the follow up he did well to block again from Haynes for a corner to show what a good keeper he is.
Then, Cray won a free kick which was floated in by Taiwo but Dawson got under his header and turned the ball wide.
Despite the increased pressure from Cray, in the 64th minute, Chipstead grabbed a second goal with a hint of controversy about it. Another ball was played forward towards Sterling-Parker who appeared to foul Jai McKinlay just over the halfway line but was allowed to play on with a clear run on goal. The striker then showed a clinical side to his game with a decent finish under the keeper and into the net.
Cray had gone two down in the previous two games in league and cup and had it all to do to get anything from the game. They continued to create openings. Scott who had moved to the left side briefly played in Dent whose shot was well fielded by Colquhoun.
Chipstead looked to finish the game off but MacLean fired well over the bar and were perhaps a little unlucky when Parker down the right played the ball across goal and was cleared by Jay Leader.
Cray came close to scoring twice with around twenty minutes to go, First, Haynes down the right found Scott whose shot was again well fielded by the keeper. Then from a corner, the ball came to Leader whose header back across goal to Dent who on the volley sent a shot narrowly over the top. Then from a free kick floated in by Siva, the ball came to Dent who hooked a shot towards goal which looped towards Colquhoun. The game then went into something of a tetchy phase before the real drama of the last ten minutes.
In the 82nd minute, Cray won a corner down the right. Jey Siva’s ball in was deflected in the penalty area towards Luchford who showing a poachers instinct nipped in to score with his head from close range.
The Wands who looked dead and buried then truly found their form and two minutes later levelled with an excellent piece of finishing from Haynes. Scott down the right showed blistering pace to turn his defender and accurately lay the ball through to Haynes who struck for his fourteenth goal of the season with a crisp low finish.
If you thought the game couldn’t get any more dramatic, Cray came close to scoring again in the 89th minute when a free kick from Taiwo found Leader who in turn flicked the ball out to Scott who hit a first time strike which was deflected wide of Colquhoun but back off the post.
Then, with the game heading for stoppage time, Cray grabbed a dramatic winner. Leader found Taiwo who laid a fine ball down the left side of the penalty area to Dawson who burst into the box, got the ball under control and rolled the ball wide of the keeper for his fourth goal of the season and into the net to send the Cray supporters into a frenzy.
There was still six minutes of injury time still to play but a pretty shell-shocked Chipstead were unable to grab an equaliser and the Wands hung on for a win that seemed so unlikely which keeps them just outside the playoff places but gives the Wands some momentum going into Wednesday night’s home game against Horsham. Certainly Dawson was the catalyst for the comeback with his determined display whilst Luchford showed his qualities when he came on but for ten minutes we saw Cray at their swashbuckling best.
One thing for sure is that life is never dull watching Cray play and this was just another dramatic addition to some already exciting games played this season. The supporters I’m sure would rather we wouldn’t go two down in every home game but the resilience of the side is such you can just never count them out.
Cray: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele (Ade Osifuwa, 18), Jey Siva, Jay Leader, Jai McKinlay (Sean Roberts, 68), Lea Dawson (Capt.), Solomon Taiwo, Lee Prescott (Dane Luchford, 53), Danny Haynes, Karl Dent, Brandon Scott: Subs: Timi Osidobu, Sean Law
Booked: Osifuwa, Taiwo, Haynes, Luchford.
Chipstead: Luke Colquhoun, Tommy Smith, Chris O’Flaherty, Vernon Francis, Dan Aldous, Callum MacLean (Capt.), Rob Hastings (Jason Henry, 87), Dan Cumber, Raheem Sterling-Parker, Karl Parker (Mario Quiassa, 76), Scott Simpson: Subs: Steve Betancourt, Jack Higgins, Tony Stone
Referee: Peter Kilip
Assistants: Zach Jaquart, Orville Bentley