Ryman League Division One North: 19/12/15
Cray Wanderers 4 McCollin 35 (p), 63, 79, Bremner 66
Cray returned to winning ways following Tuesday nights defeat to AFC Sudbury as an Andre McCollin hat-trick and a Leigh Bremner strike helped the Wands to what was in the end a comfortable victory over struggling Barkingside. The win kept Cray three points ahead of AFC Sudbury at the top of the table having played two games more but with a superior goal difference. The Wands took a little while to get going in the game against a workmanlike Barkingside and the visitors had openings in the first quarter of an hour to score before Cray gradually worked their way into the game.
From the side that began the match with Sudbury, Wands boss, Tony Russell made two changes to the starting lineup. New signing in midfield, Junior Kaffo comes to Cray Wanderers from Lewes FC and has also played for Chatham Town, Horsham and Aylesbury and came in for Michael Frieter. Uche Ibemere started in place of James Duckworth.
There were echoes of the match on Tuesday evening when the visitors almost took the lead after just twenty seconds when Cray gave the ball away close to the edge of the penalty area and Alfie Wren with perhaps more time than he realised shot wide of goal.
Barkingside continued to look the sharper early on and Wren with a speculative shot from 30 yards dragged a shot well wide of the left post. The from a free kick hoisted towards goal the ball fell to George Lataaya whose shot lacked real power and was easily held by Nick Blue. Then Nathan Fox had to be alert to clear from Ryan Hervell’s free kick out on the left.
The best opening for Barkingside came in the 13th minute when good work by Kofi Halliday down the left saw the ball go across to Jonathan Adebayo but his goalbound effort was blocked by Grant Basey.
By this stage Cray started to clear their heads and began to threaten for the first time. First, Aryan Tajbakhsh hit a scuffed shot from 25 yards which was comfortably gathered by former Wands keeper, Darren Behcet. Then from a free kick out on the right, Grant Basey’s ball in came to Fox who laid the ball across to Tajbakhsh who fired a shot wide from around twenty yards.
As with the game against Wroxham last Saturday, it was around the half hour mark that Cray began to forge openings. From a free kick out on the left, Tajbakhsh’s floated in cross was headed over by Ade Osifuwa. Then a strike from Fox from nearly forty yards out went well wide.
Cray were presented with the chance to take the lead in the 35th minute when they were awarded a penalty. Basey’s right wing corner caused confusion at the back and Michael Spencer was penalised for handball. From the spot kick, Andre McCollin’s kick was almost saved by Behcet but slowly made its way into the net to give Cray the lead.
The Wands were now well on top of the game and Barkingside looked to be getting a bit dispirited. Cray almost scored again five minutes before the break when Bremner set up McCollin down the right of the penalty area and his shot was met by a fine one handed save by Behcet.
The last opening of the half fell to Cray when McCollin set up Tajbakhsh who headed over from eight yards out.
Half Time: 1-0
Cray were forced into an early change just after half time with experienced centre half, Joe Vines coming on to replace Nathan Fox.
Cray certainly seemed to be more in control of the game without creating too many openings to begin with. Tajbakhsh set up Bremner for an opportunity but was denied by good defending.
Barkingside battled well but lacked real sharpness up front but did have a half chance when Michael Ademiliu set up Halliday down the left for a snap shot which Blue held at his near post. The Wands were unlucky not to score when McCollin played the ball through to Tajbakhsh down the right and kept the ball in play and whipped the ball across to Ibemere who attempted a backheel which was blocked by a defender.
Cray really needed the second goal to calm any jitters and it duly came in the 63rd minute and was well worth waiting for. Sean Roberts won a tackle on the right of the area and played the ball to McCollin who using great pace and strength burst his way into the box past challenges and hit a clinical finish past Behcet to show that Andre was back to his best.
Three minutes later, real daylight was put between the teams with a third goal again created by the hard working Roberts who played a great ball through to Bremner who with the defence stretched ran on and calmly stroked the ball home for goal that has been well deserved in recent weeks.
By now the game was well out of the reach of Barkingside and after a quiet spell in the game, Cray scored a fourth in the 79th minute with a very well worked goal. Ben Payne played the ball forward to substitute, James Duckworth who then took a return pass from the impressive, Ade Osifuwa, ran down the left and laid the ball across to McCollin who made no mistake in completing his hat trick with a composed finish. This was Andre’s first hat-trick for Cray and the first for a Wands player since Chris Piper’s three goal performance against Waltham Abbey at the end of last season.
The game was pretty much now done and dusted but Barkingside who showed plenty of endeavour throughout saw a shot from Wren from thirty yards sail over and a Adebayo shot go wide in added on time.
In the end Cray were comfortable winners if maybe not at their absolute best did what they had to do and win the game and get back on the rails again after Tuesday night.
Cray now prepare for the Christmas/New Year period with our first ever league game at Phoenix Sports on Boxing Day and then a real crunch game on 2nd January at home to fourth placed Thurrock.
Cray: Nick Blue, Ade Osifuwa, Grant Basey, Nathan Fox (Joe Vines, 48), Ben Payne, Sean Roberts (Capt.), Junior Kaffo, Aryan Tajbakhsh, Leigh Bremner, Andre McCollin, Uche Ibemere (James Duckworth, 71): Subs: Ray Powell, Ben Hunt, Sam Faulkner
Barkingside: Darren Behcet, Michael Spencer, Paul Wright (Capt.), Marvin Birch, Andy Nikaloas, Alfie Wren, Jonathan Nzengo (Maliki Toussaint, 75), Ryan Hervell, Kofi Halliday (Steve Hedditch, 68), George Lataaya (Michael Ademiliu, 24), Jonathan Adebayo: Subs: Matt Gulfer, Kanta Nishizawa
Referee: Craig Pullen
Assistants: Steve Perry, Scott Rudd