Cray Wanderers vs. Wingate & Finchley
Isthmian Premier – Wednesday 29th September
Cray Wanderers 3
Cook 39, 78 pen, Coombes 69
Wingate & Finchley 5
Smyth 22, Hatton 58, Sayoud 64,
Sadi 66, Laraba 88
After a remarkable evening of football under the lights Cray Wanderers winless run stretched to seven games as Wingate & Finchley won an eight goal thriller at Hayes Lane.
In a game played at a breakneck pace throughout and with barely a break in play and well officiated the match ebbed and flowed with chances at both ends in the first half. A 22nd minute goal from Liam Smyth gave Wingate & Finchley the lead but Cray levelled six minutes before half time with Anthony Cook’s fourth goal of the season. The North Londoners though hit a purple patch in the second half with three goals in eight minutes through Sam Hatton, Bilal Sayoud and Dominic Saidi with left Cray reeling at 4-1 down.
However, Cray rallied well and Adam Coombes scored his first goal for Cray with a smart header on 69 minutes and then twelve minutes from time it was 4-3 when Cook scored his second from the penalty spot after Kasim Aidoo was fouled. Despite late pressure which saw Coombes come close to making it 4-4, Wingate & Finchley broke away two minutes from the end and Jabir Laraba sealed the win with a stunning strike.
Cray had lost their last six games while Wingate & Finchley were unbeaten in their last three games. Once again Cray made some new signings prior to the game with defender Tom Hanfrey and forward Richard Afrane-Kesey making their debuts. From the side which lost to Brightlingsea on Saturday into the team came Cameron Brodie and Danny Kedwell who played at the back in place of Charlie Allen and Ejiro Okosieme who sadly has had to quit the game through persistent injury. Wingate & Finchley who drew 2-2 at Bognor Regis made a couple of changes to their starting lineup with Dominic Saidi and Junior Mubiayi coming in for Jordan Gibbons and Darnell Goather-Braithwaite.
On a fairly still evening the pattern of the game was set from the opening minutes and one of exceptional quickness if not always of the highest quality but chock full of drama and incident. Cray began well and Anthony Cook’s second minute corner had to pushed away from under the bar by keeper Ben Goode. Then from another corner, Cook’s cross was headed wide by Quaine Bartley.
Wingate & Finchley were extremely nippy down the left hand side and should really have taken the lead when Loic Hernandez down the left put a fine ball into the box which was headed over by Alphanso Kennedy from the edge of the six yard box.
Cray were pressing for a goal and Andy Drury made a fine run forward and did well to cushion the ball to set up Bartley for a shot which went just wide of the left post. Then down the left Cray worked the ball into the area with Afrane-Kesey and Anthony Cook setting up Drury who curled a shot just over.
Wingate & Finchley though had a good spell around the 20 minute mark and a well struck shot from Bilal Sayoud from 25 yards forced Jack Turner into a smart save.
Two minutes later Wingate & Finchley went in front when down the left, the lively Kennedy did well to break into the area and fire in a shot which Turner did very well to save but following up Liam Smyth was on hand to tap in from five yards.
The visitors almost scored again when from a free kick down the right the ball into the box was headed over by Daniel Pappoe. Meanwhile at the other end, Cook was unlucky after his attempted lob went just over the bar. Then Cray came closest yet when Afrane-Kesey hit a tremendous shot from 20 yards which pinged off the right hand post.
Wingate & Finchley should really have gone 2-0 up when down the right Sayoud broke to the byline and cut the ball across to Smyth who seemed destined to score but the ball seemed to strike his own player and went wide.
On 39 minutes came the moment Cray fans were waiting for and down the right, Bartley showed great power and pace to cut into the area and squared the ball across to Cook who slotted in from eight yards for Cray’s first goal from open play since 30th August.
There was still time in the half for a chance apiece with Bartley who had a cracking half denied by a sharp stop from Goode down the left. Then with the last action of the half, a corner down the right was met by the head of Lewis Hobbs but went just over the bar.
If the first half was exciting, the second half carried on in the same vein and straight away Afrane-Kesey down the left found himself in the area and his shot at the near post was blocked and then saw a header drift just over the bar from a right wing cross.
The match went through the briefest of lulls but then on 57 minutes, Wingate & Finchley who had been probing for a couple of minutes were unlucky when Sam Hatton hit a well struck shot from 30 yards which Turner pushed away superbly. However, the visitors kept the ball alive and a minute later went in front when Hatton attempted another shot from distance and this time Turner despite getting a hand to the ball couldn’t prevent the ball going into the bottom right corner.
This began a purple patch of Wingate & Finchley pressure and in the 64th minute it was 3-1 when Smyth found Junior Mubiayi down the right and his ball found Dominic Sadi whose shot was blocked by Turner but following up Sayoud lashed home his seventh goal of the season.
Two minutes later it looked like Wingate & Finchley were in cruise control when out of nothing down the left, Sadi was given too much time to pick out a shot which flew into the net and made it 4-1.
Cray though showed good character from here on in and pulled a goal back on 69 minutes when two substitutes combined with Archie Burnett’s cross from the right to the far post headed in by Adam Coombes for his first goal for Cray and one his performances have deserved.
Wingate & Finchley almost scored a fifth when Sayoud was denied by s smart stop from Turner but Cray were beginning to sense a comeback and were awarded a penalty when down the left of the area Kasim Aidoo was clipped over in the box by Mubiayi and on 78 minutes, Cook scored his second from the spot which made it 4-3.
Cray came mighty close to capping off a great comeback when Burnett and Coombes combined well down the left of the area and Coombes looked to be able to roll the ball into the net but goalkeeper Ben Goode did well to meet the striker and the ball agonisingly went just past the left post.
Two minutes from time with Cray pushing for the leveller, Wingate & Finchley broke away, again down the left and this time substitute Jabir Laraba hit a shot full of power which gave Turner no chance to save from the edge of the box.
That would prove the end of the scoring and Wingate & Finchley it has to be said were a very quick and nimble team who were sharp in front of goal second half after missing some good chances in the first. Cray had at least been able to find the net again and there were some good performances from the likes of Cook, Freddy Barton, Quaine Bartley, Richard Afrane-Kesey and Adam Coombes when he came on. The defeat was the sixth league loss in a row and pushed Cray down to 19th in the table with a trip to Carshalton to come on Saturday.
The Wands will be looking for better fortune in the month of October than was there for them in September but for those present to watch it was a great match and one which both teams can take credit and the match officials who were barely noticed throughout the game.
Cray Wanderers: Jack Turner, Kasim Aidoo, Freddie Cray, Danny Kedwell, Tom Hanfrey, Freddie Barton (Jamie Yila, 78), Cameron Brodie, Andy Drury (Archie Burnett, 66),
Anthony Cook, Quaine Bartley (Adam Coombes, 67), Richard Afrane-Kesey: Subs: Marvin McCoy, Fjord Rogers
Wingate & Finchley: Ben Goode, Junior Mubiayi, Loic Hernandez, Sam Hatton, Lewis Hobbs, Daniel Pappoe, Alphanson Kennedy, Ta’shae Andall-Gibbons (Alieu Njie, 90), Liam Smyth (Jabir Laraba, 68), Bilal Sayoud (Jordan Gibbons, 85), Dominic Sadi: Subs: Connor Peters, Darnell Goather-Braithwaite
Referee: Scott Rudd
Assistants: Billy Woods, Daniel Blades