BetVictor Isthmian Premier – Saturday 9th November, 2019
Match Report by Mark Hunt
Cray Wanderers 6
Rollinson 1, Lewis 40, 54, Taylor 59, 65, 67
Moss 7 pen
Cray Wanderers moved into the playoff places in the Isthmian Premier for the first time this season after a clinical display of finishing helped defeat a ten man Cheshunt side and make it five unbeaten in the league. On another dramatic afternoon, the match was dedicated to the memory of Dave Jackson who passed away on Friday and Joe Taylor claimed his second hat-trick of the season with all three goals coming in an eight minute spell in the second half.
The game began with a bang with loanee debutant Joel Rollinson firing Cray in front after just 38 seconds but six minutes later, Ryan Moss levelled from the spot for Cheshunt. However, Cheshunt’s hopes were dealt a blow when Giuseppe Re was sent off after 22 minutes for a late challenge on Barney Williams and were up against it for the rest of the game. Lee Lewis who produced another mature and composed display in midfield produced two cracking strikes from distance in the 40th and 54th minutes to give Cray comfort in the game. Taylor stepped up with a classy three goal blast between the 59th-67th minutes to ultimately seal the game and to take Cray up to fifth place on 25 points.
On another grey and eventually very wet afternoon Cray were looking to continue the momentum of last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Worthing at Hayes Lane. From the side that started that match, Mitchell Nelson came in for Geofrey Okonkwo and Karl Dent for Charlie Allen both returning from suspension while injuries to Jerome Federico and Tom Phipp meant starts for Ben Mundele and Joel Rolllinson, signed on a three month loan deal from Stevenage on Tuesday,
Cheshunt had lost their lost five league games but had strengthened their sides with some new signings and had won 4-0 at Potters Bar Town in the Hertfordshire Charity Cup on Tuesday so came in with a bit of form.
The game was pre-ceded by an impeccably observed minute silence for Dave Jackson and also to commemorate Remembrance Day on Sunday.
Despite the grey clouds the game began brightly and after just 38 seconds Cray were in front when after some neat passing, Joe Taylor after a one-two played in Rollinson down the right of the area and from just inside the box stroked the ball past keeper Harry Girling for the best possible start.
Cheshunt looked to get back into it and Bobby Mills was a threat in the early stages. Down the left he made a run into the area and his shot from 12 yards was fielded by Lewis Carey.
Then in the 7th minute, Cheshunt were back on level terms when Mills again down the left cut into the area and was clipped by Mitchell Nelson and a penalty kick was given. From the spot, Ryan Moss stroked the ball into the net.
Cray looked to get back on the attack and Lee Lewis and Bradley Pritchard combined to set up Ben Mundele whose shot from 25 yards was saved by Girling. Then after another spell of good passing, Lewis and Rollinson linked up to set up Dent whose shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Joel Nakani-Brown. This was followed by Pritchard finding Tom Carlse down the left who from inside the area fired the ball across into the area but was cleared by a Cheshunt defender.
In the 22nd minute, Cheshunt were reduced to ten men when Giuseppe Re caught Barney Williams down by the right touchline with a slightly mistimed challenge and meant a large chunk of the game was to be spent a man short.
This gave Cray more impetus and Dent shot over the top and then Pritchard found Williams down the right and his ball into the box was excellent and Joe Taylor arriving into the area fired a shot just wide of the right post. Then Jay Leader’s ball into the area sought out Taylor who did well to get to the ball but looked to perhaps been impeded and couldn’t get a clean connection to his attempted lob. At the other end, Mark Hughes shot well wide from distance.
The pressure was starting to build and Rollinson saw a shot from nine yards blocked by the Cheshunt defence and then from a corner, the ball was played in from the left and Nelson attacked the ball and was diverted into the net but was disallowed for a push.
However, a goal was looking on the cards and five minutes before half time it came and was well worth waiting for as Lee Lewis who was having a storming game in midfield broke forward with the ball and finding space from 25 yards hit a well struck shot which swerved past Girling and into the net for his second goal of the season.
This gave Cray the lead at the break and with a man advantage looked to have the measure of the game.
Half Time: 2-1
Cray began the second half in full flow and straight away could have scored a third when Rollinson down the right laid the ball across and Pritchard shot over the top from the edge of the area.
In the 54th minute Cray won a corner down the right and Pritchard ball in was only half cleared out of the area and Lewis won the ball and from 30 yards hit an unstoppable shot which gave Girling no chance and the Wands had the comfort of a 3-1 lead.
Five minutes later and the game was to all intents and purposes over when after another superb passing move, the ball came to Mundele who slipped an excellent pass through to Taylor down the right of the area and finished confidently placing the ball in the bottom left corner of the net.
Cray now had their tails up and Cheshunt were looking a little bedraggled and Leader played an excellent ball into the area to Rollinson who flicked the ball up and attempted an audacious lob which was gathered by Girling.
In the 65th minute, Cray scored their fifth goal when Dent and Taylor switched the ball out to Rollinson down the right and his ball across was swept into the net by the increasingly deadly Taylor.
Two minutes later, Cray went even further in front when Cheshunt lost possession in midfield and Pritchard’s ball split the defence and Taylor burst into the area and tucked the ball home from 12 yards for his nineteenth of the season and capped off a remarkable 8 minutes for the Cray Wanderers no 9.
The rest of the game would now be comfortable for Cray with Cheshunt looking to restore some pride for the remainder of the half but with a man less and Cray passing the ball confidently there were no real alarms for Lewis Carey and the Wands defence.
Cray almost made it 7-1 when Andre Coker found Lewis who also looking for a hat-trick saw a shot pushed out by Girling but Charlie Allen following up turned the ball into the net but was ruled out for offside.
With the game long since won Cray were able to see out the remainder of the game with few alarms and what could have been a tough, hard fought encounter ended in a comfortable three points and kept up the momentum which had been building over the last few games.
There were so many positive on such a poignant day for the club with the performance of Rollinson one not to be forgotten, the excellent Lee Lewis who belies his young age with a string of mature performances, Ben Mundele looked sharp while Joe Taylor looks in great form at the moment and scoring plenty of goals. The sending off perhaps took the intensity away from the game as quite even at the time but it was classic example of how to play against a side with ten men and make them run around chasing the ball.
Cray now have three successive away games in the league with a trip to North London to face Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday night followed by a visit to Brightlingsea on Saturday and then Carshalton Athletic in three weeks time.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard (Charlie Allen, 67), Karl Dent (Charles Etumnu, 86), Ben Mundele (Andre Coker, 76), Joel Rollinson, Joe Taylor: Subs: Geofrey Okonkwo, Grant Hall
Cheshunt: Harry Girling, Ibrahim Diallo, Joel Nakani-Brown (Leon Lalor-Dell, 62), Mark Hughes, Sean Cronin, Ethan Nelson-Roberts, Olarinde Williams (Ayuk Tarh, 75), Amadou Kassarate, Ryan Moss (Taylor McKenzie, 71), Bobby Mills, Giuseppe Re: Subs: Roman Campbell, Freddy Moncur
Sent off: Re 22 mins
Referee: Jonathan Creswick
Assistant Referees: Robert Claussen, Michelle Gallo
Attendance – 162