Ryman League Division One South – 1/3/17
Cray Wanderers 3
Haynes 19, Mundele 66, Bracken o. g, 73
Corinthian Casuals 4
Fox o. g, 7, Dillon 33, 47, Okojie 84
Cray Wanderers suffered more home disappointment as they went down to their third defeat in a row at Hayes Lane as Corinthian Casuals kept their playoff hopes very much alive. Cray face a difficult task now to make the playoffs trailing by nine points to fifth placed Hastings and drop one place to tenth with Faversham’s point against South Park.
The Wands without a win in four took on a Casuals side which had lost their last two games, both away and this was a game full of drama right from the start. Cray got off to a bad start when a Nathan Fox own goal in the seventh minute gave the Casuals the lead. This was cancelled out in the 19th minute through a Danny Haynes strike, his 22nd league goal of the season. Cray had a spell in the ascendancy but the Casuals went back in front in the 33rd minute when Reyon Dillon scored to give them the lead at the break. Two minutes after half time. Dillon scored again to give Corinthian Casuals some daylight but a stirring Wands fightback saw goals by Ben Mundele and a Danny Bracken own goal put Cray back on terms with seventeen minutes to go. Cray though were caught with a sucker punch six minutes from time when Shaun Okojie scored his 22nd goal of the season to win the game for the visitors.
Cray ended a run of three straight league defeats with a point at Chipstead on Saturday and there was only one change to the starting lineup from that game with Paul Lorraine coming in for Brandon Scott.
On a fairly murky evening Cray were looking to improve on some slow starts at home with goals conceded in the opening minutes of the games against Lewes and Tooting & Mitcham United. Corinthian Casuals had the first real attempt on goal in the 4th minute when Dan Summers hit a snatched shot from Mahrez Bettache’s cross which went wide of goal. Then Josh Gallagher saw an effort blocked by Nathan Fox.
In the 7th minute, Cray went one nil down when from a throw in the ball came to Fox down the left who turned and his attempted pass back to Nick Blue was slightly overhit and the ball sped towards goal leaving the Cray keeper unable to prevent the ball going into the net.
Not surprisingly it took a few minutes to get this setback out of their system but slowly tried to get a foothold in the game. The first real moment of anxiety for Corinthian Casuals came in the 16th minute when Danny Haynes found Fox down the right who put a cross into the box which Danny Bracken did well to claim at the second attempt under pressure from Luke Medley.
Three minutes later and Cray were back on level terms when a move started by Mundele saw the ball come to Medley who set up Haynes inside the penalty area who simply guided the ball into the net for a composed finish.
The game now changed direction with Cray having a good spell of possession and started to apply pressure. From a throw in the ball came to Karl Dent whose effort on goal was deflected off a defender for a throw in. Then from a right wing corner, the ball to the near post came to Haynes whose effort was deflected to Bracken.
Cray continued to press and a free kick twenty five yards out on the right was floated towards goal by Jey Siva and turned behind for a corner. From the left wing kick, in the 26th minute, Siva’s ball into the heart of the goalmouth was met by Jay Leader but his firm header went just over the bar. Then three minutes later, Medley saw an effort blocked for another corner and this time another good delivery from Siva saw the ball just miss the combination of Leader and Paul Lorraine who came to meet the cross and the ball went wide.
However, against the run of play Corinthian Casuals went back in front in the 33rd minute. Blue played a ball forward which was headed on by Josh Gallagher, Lively forward Reydon Dillon latched onto the ball, strode forward and from the right edge of the penalty area fired home an accurate cross-shot which crept into the net.
Cray looked to get back into the game before half and the game got a bit scrappy but the Wands had the last shooting chance of the half. A corner from the right was partially cleared as far as Fox who from twenty five yards saw his shot gathered well by Bracken.
Half Time: 1-2
The feeling was that Cray were not out of the game by any means at the break but got off to the worse possible start to the second half as Casuals grabbed a third goal.
Two minutes after the break, Jordan Clarke played a ball over the top of the Cray defence which was latched on to by Dillon who ran on and lobbed the ball over the advancing Blue to make it 3-1.
Cray then had to make an early change with Brandon Scott coming on for Haynes who appeared to be injured. Casuals then had a good spell in which thy threatened particularly through Dillon to score again and it seemed a long half was on its way for Cray.
As in the first half they managed to get a foothold back in the game and Dent set up Medley for a shot from just outside the penalty area which was saved by Bracken. This was followed by a snap shot from Dent which went just past the right post. Then a ball was played into the box towards Medley but the ball came off the head of the striker and went out for a goal kick.
In the 66th minute though, Cray pulled a goal back when after a patient build up the ball came to Scott down the right from Dent’s pass. The ball was played towards Dent who guided a cross into the box which the keeper couldn’t reach and Mundele stole in ahead of Dawson to prod the ball over the line to give us an exciting last quarter of the game.
The Casuals looked to strike again and Summers shot over the bar from thirty yards. Cray meanwhile were starting to look dangerous when they attacked especially through Scott and won three corners in quick succession.
From the third of these in the 73rd minute they got back on terms for the second time with a stroke of luck of their own. Siva’s right wing corner went into the heart of the goalmouth and Bracken perhaps aware of a challenge from Medley and from his own defender punched the ball into his own net to make it 3-3.
The drama continued on into the last quarter of an hour and Mundele set up Dent for a shot which went over the crossbar. Cray kept battling on but it was Casuals who went back on the attack and Juevan Spencer’s cross into the area was cleared by Fox. Then following a corner the ball came to Summers whose effort was off target.
With six minutes to go, Cray went behind once again when the ball was worked down the right and Ben Cheklit put over a fine cross to the far post where substitute Shaun Okojie rose unchallenged to steer a header into the net.
The energy and zip seemed to ebb away from Cray after this and despite a great deal of effort the game ended on a sour note for Cray when Leader had to leave the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Cray had shown a lot of resolve to come back into the game twice but were unable to find a way back for a third time and Casuals held on fairly comfortably for the win, only their second ever win against Cray. The win keeps Casuals seventh in the table on 66 points but level with fifth placed Hastings United and sixth placed Hythe and very much still in the playoff mix. Cray though have their work cut out to reach the playoff at this stage but it will not be for the want of trying.
Cray now have two home games coming up, on Saturday against Walton Casuals and then next Wednesday against Herne Bay. With ten more games still to go there is sure to be more drama like tonight’s ahead.
Cray: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Nathan Fox, Jay Leader (Jai McKinlay, 87), Paul Lorraine, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Zak Henry, 87), Danny Haynes (Brandon Scott, 50), Luke Medley, Jey Siva: Subs: Dane Luchford, Timi Osidobu
Cor. Casuals: Danny Bracken (Capt.), Juevan Spencer, David Hodges, Danny Dudley, Jack Strange, Coskum Ekim, Mahrez Bettache, Josh Gallagher, Dan Summers (Shaun Okojie, 73), Reyon Dillon (Mu Maan, 82), Jordan Clarke (Ben Cheklit, 82): Subs: Josh Uzun, Terry Murray
Referee: Daniel Simpson
Assistants: Phillip Jones, Gareth Mays