Ryman League Division One South: 17/9/16
Cray Wanderers 3
Haynes 25, 57, 80 pen
Three Bridges 2
Adelakun 36 pen, Tait 88 pen
Cray returned to winning ways after three games without a win following an exciting victory against Three Bridges at Hayes Lane.
The Wands first home game since August 27th saw Cray seeming in control with a Danny Haynes hat trick giving Cray a 3-1 lead going into the last couple of minutes before Three Bridges staged a late comeback which almost bagged a point.
There were three changes to the side which lost at Dorking. Nick Blue returned in goal for Jordan Beeny, Sean Roberts began in place of Karl Dent whilst Lee Prescott started up front for the now departed loanee Jonte Smith
The visitors from West Sussex started the game fourteenth but began the game slightly in the ascendancy. They had the first shot towards goal in the eleventh minute when veteran forward, Alan Tait shot well wide from twenty yards.
Cray began the game tentatively and their first glimpse came a couple of minutes later when a throw in led to Prescott having a shot towards goal deflected to keeper Martin Grant. For Three Bridges, Tony Garrod fired well wide.
After quarter of an hour, Cray came closest yet when the impressive Sean Roberts picked the ball up and fired narrowly over from just outside the area.
Cray were just starting to take control of the game when they took the lead in the 25th minute. A fine ball out to the right by Roberts found the pacey Haynes who ran at former Wands defender, Martin Dynan, turned him and cut into the box and shot underneath Grant with a powerfully hit shot for his first league goal for Cray.
The Wands have had difficulty holding on to a lead and Three Bridges came back at Cray and Makeem Adelakun saw a shot on target deflected wide for a corner and then Tait saw a shot also deflected away.
Three Bridges got back into the game in the 36th minute when Tait who was having a good game found space and ran into the box and was upended by Solomon Taiwo for a penalty. The spot kick was fired home decisively by Adelakun.
Cray almost went back in front three minutes before half time when Prescott found Haynes who again beat Dynan for pace but this time hit his shot wide of the right post.
At times a rather flat first half came to an end all square with plenty of drama still to come in the second half.
Half Time: 1-1
The second half was a much more open affair with a lot of goalmouth incident. Cray had upped their game break particularly after the break and started to carve out chances. First Roberts and Haynes combined down the right to set up Brandon Scott whose close range shot was blocked by the legs of Grant.
A minute later, Taiwo found Haynes who laid the ball into the path of Prescott who from twenty five yards instinctively hit a volley which went only just wide of goal.
Then the Wands had a free kick just inside their own half. Jay Leader’s ball towards goal fell to Scott down the left who cut inside and hit a cracking shot which came back off the left post and out to Prescott who was onside who directed his header straight to Grant. A minute later, Roberts hit a half volley which went wide.
In the 57th minute Cray went back in front when another incisive pass by Roberts found Haynes down the right who again used his tremendous pace to burst into the area and drove a fine shot past the keeper to top off a good few minutes of attacking from Cray.
Again the Wands started to apply a semblance of control with Haynes having a shot blocked although for the visitors Michael Wilson fired wide. The game also started to get a touch feisty with some good tackles coming in but the match was being well refereed.
The game really opened up in the last twenty minutes and Three Bridges almost got back on terms when Wilson was given time to hit a shot which Nick Blue who hadn’t had much to do up to that point did well to get down to push round the post for a corner.
For Cray Prescott’s sublime disguised pass helped set up Scott who had time but couldn’t pick out a shot and his effort was blocked by a defender. Then for Three Bridges Adelakun fired a shot well off target.
The game was going from end to end with Cray unlucky when Haynes was played in down the right but his effort was well saved by Grant who pushed the ball behind for a corner.
For the first time there was real daylight between the teams in the 80th minute when the tireless Haynes was chopped down inside the area by Dan Mobsby for a penalty. Haynes converted the kick for a hat trick on his Cray Wanderers home league debut.
Roberts hit a shot wide for Cray before Three Bridges got back into the game two minutes from time with another penalty. Tim Cook played a short pass through to Tait who was brought down by Blue for the third spot kick of the game. Tait himself got up to take the penalty and slotted home for a goal his performance deserved.
With a fair chunk of injury time to come, Cray nearly made it 4-2 when Robert set up Haynes down the left but this time could only fire his low shot straight at Grant.
Then Cray has a massive let off when Callum Donaghey’s fine ball over the top fell to Devon Fender who burst through on a one-on-one with Blue but pulled his shot wide of goal much to the Wands relief.
Cray were having trouble seeing out the game and invited a lot of pressure in the last few minutes but managed to see it through for a hard earned three points. The win puts Cray up to ninth in the table, just a point behind fifth placed, Greenwich Borough and eight behind surprise league leaders Tooting and Mitcham United.
Certainly Cray have been involved in some very entertaining games since moving to the Ryman South and no team can be taken for granted in what is a very strong league.
Cray now look to build up some momentum with another league match at Hayes Lane on Wednesday when Hythe Town are the visitors for the first time since 2004.
Cray: Nick Blue, Ade Osifuwa, Timi Osidobu, Jay Leader, Paul Lorraine, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Solomon Taiwo (Ben Mundele, 76), Sean Roberts, Lee Prescott, Danny Haynes, Brandon Scott (Anthony Adesite, 83): Subs: Sean Law, Jai McKinlay, Taylor McDonagh
Booked: Osidobu, Prescott
Three Bridges: Martin Grant, Dan Mobsby, Martin Dynan (Stefon Hayles, 66), Makeem Adelakun, Callum Donaghey (Capt.), Mark Pulling (John Landsdale, 59), Devon Fender, Michael Wilson, Alan Tait, Tony Garrod (Tim Cook, 20), Ricardo Fernandes
Referee: Ollie Butcher
Assistants: Ben Bowles, Dan Doyle