Cray Wanderers vs Margate – 21/8/19 – Match Report
Cray Wanderers 3
Parker 30, 73, Taylor 35 (p)
Leighton 52, Johnson 90+1
Photos: Kindly provided by Jon Hilliger
Cray Wanderers gained their first victory of the 2019-20 Isthmian Premier season and their first in the top flight since March 2014 with victory over Margate at Hayes Lane. In the second straight Wednesday night thriller already this season, Cray were impressive in the first half and led through a classy Freddie Parker strike on the half hour and a Joe Taylor penalty five minutes later after Bradley Pritchard was upended in the box.
Margate were a different side after the break and reduced the arrears seven minutes after the restart through Noel Leighton close range header. Cray though regrouped and restored the two goal advantage in the 73rd minute with Parker scoring his second from Lee Lewis’ cross. A nervy final few minutes were in store when Dan Johnson pulled a goal back for Margate in stoppage time but Cray held on to the win which moves them up to 8th in the league table albeit having played a game more than the other leading clubs.
The Wands started with two points from the opening three points and the feeling was with the injuries and perhaps no luck in front of goal that surely the tide would turn in Tony Russell’s sides favour before long.
With Tom Phipp joining Jay Leader and Karl Dent on the injured list on Saturday there were a couple of changes to the starting lineup. In to the side came a loanee signing from Watford, Harry Hudson who made an incredibly positive first appearance in the side and looked assured alongside the immaculate once again, Mitchell Nelson. Also, Andre Coker started the match after missing the Corinthian Casuals game in place of Aaron Rhule.
Margate had drawn their first three games and began the game in a positive fashion and the lively Kadell Daniel saw a long range shot deflected to Lewis Carey.
There was an early blow for Cray though when Coker picked up an early knock and was replaced after just six minutes by Aaron Rhule.
The first real chance of the game fell to Cray in the 8th minute when a ball was played forward to Joe Taylor down the right of the area and held the ball up, took on a defender and from just outside the area fired a shot wide of the right post.
Then after a patient buildup, the ball was worked down the left and Jerome Federico found Rhule who drove in a shot which was held at the near post by keeper Jon Miles.
Margate were tidy in possession and in the 17th minute fashioned their first real opening when Kudas Oyenuga found Adem Ramadan down the left who rode a couple of challenges and found himself inside the penalty area and saw his shot go wide of the left post. Shortly after Ramadan hit a shot from 25 yards gathered by Carey.
Cray were beginning to build some pressure and won three corners with the last following a Rhule shot which was deflected behind.
A goal was looking on the cards and duly arrived on the half hour following a steady spell of possession the ball was worked down the right and Federico and Barney Williams combined to find Bradley Pritchard, His ball across into the area found Taylor whose shot was pushed out by Miles to Freddie Parker, who took a couple of touches to find space to shoot and from 10 yards placed a shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
Five minutes later, Cray had the chance to put some daylight between the sides when again down the right, the excellent Lee Lewis found Williams who laid the ball across to Pritchard who was tripped before he could shoot by Noel Leighton and a penalty kick was awarded. From the spot, Taylor expertly placed the ball into the bottom right also getting off the mark for the season.
There was a key moment just after the restart when the dangerous Oyenuga from the edge of the box hit a wickedly swerving shot which was brilliantly pushed round the left post by Carey.
Cray were able to see out the remainder of the first half and went into the break with a two goal advantage.
Half Time: 2-0
Cray had to make a change at the break with Charlie Allen coming on for Tom Carlse and for the opening exchanges of the half for perhaps the only time in the game were a little scrappy.
Margate though looked a different side after the break and pulled a goal back when down the left, Oyenuga again involved found Ramadan who whipped over an inviting cross where Leighton was on hand to guide the ball past Carey and make it game on once again.
Just when it seemed that Margate were back in the game, Cray got a second wind and there were some fine performances particularly from young players, Hudson at the back was looking decisive and good going forward, Lewis was in top form making runs from midfield and Parker was strong and positive up front.
Margate threatened when Carey’s kick out went as far as Oyenuga who from 25 yards fired a shot back towards goal but thankfully staright to the keeper. Then for Cray, following the award of a free kick, Parker drove a shot wide from the right of the area.
It looked like the Wands had weathered any Margate storm and after 73 minutes grabbed a third goal with a goal well-crafted with youth very much to the fore. Barney Williams made a run forward and found Parker, then Pritchard who slipped a pass to Lewis who broke down the right and laid a superb, inviting cross which was despatched emphatically by Parker from 12 yards to make it 3-1.
Then Cray almost scored another terrific goal when Lewis burst forward and found Parker who from the edge of the D and seeking a hat-trick curled in a shot which was excellently pushed behind by Miles for a corner.
The game looked to done and dusted but Margate showed plenty of character and Jay Saunders’ side made it a nervy finish for Cray when in the first minute of three added on minutes scored a second goal when following a corner down the left, Ramadan drifted into the area and his shot was blocked by a combination of defender and goalkeeper and the ball fell loose to Dan Johnson who made no mistake from 10 yards.
However, there wasn’t sufficient time to complete a turnaround and Cray Wanderers saw out the game to pick up well merited win and register their first win in the Isthmian Premier since a 2-1 win at Billericay Town in March 2014.
Despite the early injuries there has been much to commend Cray for in the early games and there were so many good performances and a great work ethic and desire to get the win. This league is tough and Margate will give a lot of teams problems and had already picked up points at Hornchurch and Kingstonian so they will not be far away from the playoff places so this was a tremendous win.
Now Cray can take a brief break from league action and incredibly despite the apparent lack of Kent derbies this season on Sunday afternoon Cray meet Hythe Town in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup for their third derby game of the season.
In the meantime, those fortunate to see the game may have seen something very special in the making with this team and set of players.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse (Charlie Allen, H/T), Mitchell Nelson, Harry Hudson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico, Andre Coker (Aaron Rhule 6, Tom Murphy, 56), Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor: Subs: Charles Etumnu, Geofrey Okonkwo
Booked: Nelson, Allen, Parker
Margate: Jon Miles, Chris Sessesgnon, Jay Porter, James Rogers, Dan Johnson, Ben Swift, Adem Ramadan, Jordan Robins, Kudas Oyenuga (James Jeffrey, 79), Noel Leighton, Kadell Daniel: Subs: Craig Holloway, Giani Ashley, Harrison Pont, Harrison Hatfull
Referee: Luke Donaldson
Assistants: Paul Agboola, Michael Coen