Cray Wanderers 4 (Parker 8, 17, 90, Taylor 59 pen)
Tonbridge Angels 2 (Derry 60, McKenzie 69 pen)
Pics: Jon Hilliger
Cray Wanderers continued their good start to pre-season with an entertaining victory against Tonbridge Angels at Hayes Lane.
In a rare home pre-season friendly the star of the show for the Wands was Freddie Parker with a classy hat-trick, a header, a fine individual strike and a free kick with the last kick of the game helped Cray to victory. Cray took the lead in the 8th minute with Parker’s neat header from a Jerome Federico cross and then nine minutes picked the ball up in midfield and ran towards goal and from just outside the box lifted a shot into the top right hand corner.
In the second half, Joe Taylor made it 3-0 just before the hour with a penalty. A minute later Tonbridge pulled a goal back through Tom Derry and then in the 69th minute made it 3-2 via a Chinedu McKenzie penalty. Cray though had the final say and with the last action of the game, Parker’s free kick was too hot for the keeper to handle and the win was sealed.
The match pitted two teams promoted from last season with the Wands looking forward to life in the BetVictor Isthmian Premier while Tonbridge Angels following a marathon playoff system will be in the Vanarama National South.
Both sides made good starts to their pre-season with Tonbridge, who begin their season on 3rd August at home to Dulwich Hamlet winning three games already against Sutton Common Rovers, Sittingbourne & East Grinstead Town. Cray made their pre-season introduction with a solid if unspectacular 1-0 win at Sheppey United on Tuesday night.
From the off this looked like a game with a lot to offer the spectators with for Cray some promising trialists mixed in with first team regulars and U18s players. Cray almost took the lead in the 2nd minute when two trialists combined down the right and the no 11 inside the area sent an angled drive just over.
Tonbridge threatened too and shortly after down the right a cross to the far post was headed wide by Alex Read from 12 yards.
In the 8th minute, Cray took the lead with a quick break down the right and Jerome Federico put over an tantalising cross which was despatched with some style from just outside the six yard box by Freddie Parker.
Shortly after Cray threatened again when from a right wing corner the ball came to Joe Taylor whose fierce drive was turned behind by keeper Jon Henly.
Then in the 17th minute it was 2-0 with a high quality piece of play from Parker who received the ball 30 yards from goal, ran on and from just outside the area hit a cracking drive which flew into the net for his second of the game.
The match settled down after that although from a free kick, Parker’s ball into the box was met by the head of Tom Phipp but the ball was cleared. Then Phipp saw a shot go over from 20 yards.
Tonbridge were very much still in the game and Cray were indebted to a fine save from new signing Lewis Carey who did well to come and block a shot from Read who had broken into the box and from the rebound Tom Derry’s shot was blocked by Phipp.
Then for the visitors, Royle Overnon fired over from 30 yards and from a free kick Sonny Miles effort was claimed by Carey who also saved a deflected effort from Read.
Before half time Tom Carlse saw a shot saved by Henly and then from a corner, a trialist (no 8) saw a shot blocked.
Half Time: 2-0
The second half saw a handful of changes per side but the pace of the game continued to be breakneck.
Cray were unlucky not to score a third when a right wing corner from Parker into the area found the head of a trialist (no 16) who powered his header against the crossbar. Then Carlse saw a shot from distance parried by the replacement goalkeeper and Mitchell Nelson shot over from 30 yards.
On 59 minutes Cray were awarded a penalty when the no 11 showed great skill by picking up the ball from halfway, turned a defender and ran away down the left, into the area where he was upended by ex-Wand Alex Bentley. From the spot, Joe Taylor converted to make it 3-0.
A minute later though Cray switched off at the back and Jared Small down the right set up Derry who finished tidily to put the Angels back in it.
Cray went up the other end and Joe Taylor thought he had scored his second when he touched in Federico’s cross but was flagged offside.
Then from another quality Parker corner the ball came to Nelson who sidefooted the ball towards goal but was cleared off the line.
However Steve McKimm’s side showed the fighting qualities which should serve them well this season when they too were awarded a penalty in the 69t minute for handball against the no 16. Chinedu McKenzie stroked home the penalty to make it 3-2.
Tonbridge thought they had a claim for another penalty shortly after when Derry went down in the area but it was Cray who went back on the attack and from a free kick, Parker flicked the ball up and sent in a shot which the keeper held.
Tonbridge nearly levelled when Joe Turner broke away down the left but lashed a shot over the bar. Cray though came close themselves when the lively no 11 was set up by Carlse’s cross and his low shot was pushed round the post superbly the Angels keeper. Then D’Sean Theobald saw a low drive held by Carey.
The final action and say of an entertaining afternoon quite rightly belonged to Parker who from a free kick awarded just shy of 25 yards from goal had the confidence to let fly and his deceptive shot went into the net via the keepers despairing dive to complete a superb hat-trick and virtuoso performance.
Nothing is ever won after a second pre-season game but against a good side with a winning habit in big games this was an excellent win for Cray Wanderers and Tony Russell’s side showed impressive qualities particularly in the first half and when they had to knuckle down from a comeback they found a second wind.
Cray next make the short trip to Beckenham Town on Tuesday night and should be another interesting evening at Eden Park.
Cray Wanderers Team: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp, Jerome Federico, Trialist (no 8), Joe Taylor, Freddie Parker, Trialist (no 11). Second half subs, Trialist (no 12), Trialist (no 16), Lee Lewis, Neil Spencer, Charles Etumnu.