Bostik League South – 14/3/2018
Cray Wanderers 5
Dawson 7, 39, MacDonald 9, Dadson 76, 90+2
Cray Wanderers capped off a very satisfactory 24 hours with a classy victory against an in form Whyteleafe side at Hayes Lane.
After Tuesday nights tremendous result at Bromley Civic Centre re the proposed new ground at Flamingo Park, the Wands next task was to end a three game losing run and get their promotion hopes back on track. Whyteleafe had lost just one of their last twelve games and had put themselves back in playoff contention.
The night was all set up for a great game and the Wands got off to flying start with the returning Lea Dawson back from suspension powering in a header from a Karl Dent corner after 7 minutes.
Two minutes later, Cray scored a second when Charlie MacDonald scored his seventh goal for the Wands with a typical poachers finish.
Whyteleafe though showed good character and pulled a goal back after 19 minutes when Bradley Simms hit a tremendous low strike from out on the right to make it game on.
Cray though restored their two goal advantage six minutes from half time when Dawson scored his second goal of the game, again from a corner this time with a crisp strike into the bottom right corner of the net.
Both teams had chances in the second half but Cray put real daylight between the sides in the 76th minute when Brandon Scott set up Junior Dadson who turned the ball home for his first goal for the Wands.
The evening was topped off with Dadson’s curling strike in injury time to signal intent that Cray’s indifferent form was well behind them.
The Wands came into the game on the back of a defeat at Hythe on Saturday which made it one win in the last seven games but their seemed a real determination about the side from the off to put their recent record to bed. From the game at Hythe, into the side came the returning Lea Dawson after three games out, Charlie MacDonald and Aaron Rhule who came in for Michael Freiter, Michael Power and Brandon Scott. Dean Carpenter has left the club and on the bench was new signing, ex Millwall youngster and most recently with Concord Rangers, Irish youth international Kyron Farrell.
The game got off to a fairly even start with Whyteleafe having the first glimpse of a scoring chance but Hassan Ibrahim fired well wide from over 30 yards out.
It was Cray who took the lead after seven minutes after the second of back to back corners. From the corner from the right, Karl Dent’s cross was perfectly weighted towards the back post where Dawson got in front of Jay Leader to steer a header past Kyle Merson to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Cray were celebrating again when the ball worked was worked down the right and Ben Mundele found Zak Henry who played a fine ball into the area where MacDonald instinctively stuck out a boot to turn the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
It could have been three nil but Junior Dadson’s right wing cross to the far post found Rhule but his effort was blocked.
Whyteleafe though were very much in the game and almost pulled a goal back when Anton Douglas’s cross from the left to the far post found Vance Bola who volleyed wide from six yards.
Whyteleafe showed why they have been on such a good run when they pulled a goal back in the 19th minute. Bradley Simms picked up the ball down the right cut inside and unleashed a fine low shot from 25 yards which gave Nick Blue no chance to save high into the top left hand corner.
Cray went back on the attack and Dawson hit a sweet strike from twenty five yards which was met by a fine diving save from Merson. This was followed by a left wing cross from Rhule towards Dadson on the far post but Douglas did well to put the ball behind for a corner.
The Wands were unlucky not to score when MacDonald did well to set up Dadson down the right who hit a near post shot which Merson parried behind for a corner.
The game was becoming very open and Dent fired over from distance and then there was a very good chance for Whyteleafe in the 34th minute when Simms who was very dangerous with his attacking runs forward was played in down the right and his dinked shot was cleared off the line by Dawson.
Then Ibrahim and Simms combined to set up Tommy Hutchings inside the area who sidefooted the ball wide from 12 yards.
A minute later in the 39th minute Cray restored their two goal advantage from another Dent corner which was deflected towards Dawson who from twelve yards rifled home a fine shot to cap off an excellent first half for the Wands skipper.
Half Time: 3-1
The second half had a lot to live up to after the first half and Cray almost scored a fourth two minutes into the half when MacDonald found Dent who hit a superb first time ball through to Rhule who bore down on goal and perhaps under pressure from a defender turned the ball fractionally wide of the left post.
From a free kick out on the left, Dent’s shot came back off the wall and out to Dadson who fired over the bar. Then from another free kick this time out on the right of the area, Dent curled a shot wide of goal.
For Whyteleafe, Tom Pearson made a good run forward into the area but was denied by a good block by Barney Williams which took the ball out for a throw in. Then, Lanre Areez set up Pearson who shot over the bar.
Cray kept coming forward and Rhule down the right cut into the area but pulled his near post shot wide with players waiting for a cut back.
Whyteleafe were by no means out of the game and almost scored a second of the night when Simms again involved set up Bola inside the area who was denied a goal by a terrific save from Blue diving to make a brave block. Then for the visitors, another good run forward from Bola down the left ended with a shot over from 15 yards.
Another goal was coming somewhere in the game and it came in the 76th minute when a tremendous burst of pace from substitute Brandon Scott down the right saw the winger reached the by line, made a feint and played the ball across to Dadson who gleefully fired home from the edge of the six yard box for a goal his performance deserved to make it 4-1.
As the game wore down to the end, Whyteleafe who kept on going to their enormous credit almost pulled a goal back but Sam Clayton fired wide.
Then with the game in its second minute of stoppage time, the night was completed with an excellent individual goal from Dadson who down the left found space on the edge of the area and curled home an unstoppable shot into the bottom right corner of the net to really put the cherry on the cake.
There was never any doubt that Cray would return to winning ways at some point. This was a team which went 23 games unbeaten at one point in the season and hadn’t suddenly become bad players overnight. The hard work and determination to succeed over the last few weeks paid off and Tony Russell’s side now move back up to fifth place in the Bostik South league table on 72 points, five behind 2nd placed Carshalton Athletic and one behind fourth placed Greenwich Borough.
Cray next move on to what will be a tricky game on Sunday against a Horsham side which has improved markedly since Cray’s 8-0 win in the FA Trophy in October but after an emotional and possibly momentous night on Tuesday to follow that up with a belting performance on the pitch the following evening speaks volumes for the players mental strength.
A word also for the referee, Robert Classen who had an excellent game, although never a physical contest officiated the game with great common sense and with a quiet authority.
Cray Massive Man of the Match – Lea Dawson
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Zak Henry, Karl Dent (Michael Freiter, 78), Charlie MacDonald (Michael Power, 74), Aaron Rhule (Brandon Scott, 67), Junior Dadson: Subs: Kyron Farrell, Marcus Evans
Whyteleafe: Kyle Merson, Bradley Simms, Anton Douglas, Bentley Graham (Capt.), John Scarborough, Antonio Simone, Lanre Azeez, Hassan Ibrahim, Vance Bola, Tommy Hutchings (Sam Clayton, 67), Tom Pearson (Chemer Clothier, 84): Subs: Cormac Hegarty, Dennis Asante, Kechi Eze
Referee: Robert Classen
Assistant Referees: Reece Pinchback, Jordan Whitworth