Cray Wanderers vs Merstham

Pitching In Isthmian Premier – Wednesday 28th October, 2020

Cray Wanderers                                                      6

Mundele 5, Pritchard 9, Leader 30,

Murrell-Williamson 48, Taylor 63, 82

Merstham                                                                 0

Pics: Jon Hilliger,

Cray Wanderers bounced back in great style from the FA Cup defeat at Canvey Island to record their biggest ever Isthmian Premier win by scoring six goals without reply against Merstham at Hayes Lane.

The Wands who moved up to 4th in the Isthmian Premier table, hit the ground running with two goals in the first ten minutes as Ben Mundele made it three goals in three games with a classy finish in the 5th minute and then four minutes later, Bradley Pritchard scored his second of the season following up a rebound after Rhys Murrell-Williamson’s  shot was saved.  On the half hour, Freddie Parker’s corner was headed in by Jay Leader and Cray were well on the way to the win.

In the second half another quick start saw Murrell-Williamson scored a deserved goal three minutes after the restart to make it 4-0.  Then Joe Taylor got on the scoresheet twice first scoring in the 63rd minute when he scored from five yards after Jason Banton’s shot was saved and then following Parker’s exquisite pass chipped keeper Tylor Dickinson to complete the scoring and also the Wands’ first clean sheet of the season.

From the side which played at Canvey Island on Saturday there was one change to the starting lineup with Ben Mundele returning from suspension to take the place of Lee Lewis.

On a chilly night Cray were looking for the perfect response to the Canvey Island game against a young Merstham side who although bottom of the table play good football and shouldn’t be underestimated.

The Wands got off to a positive start and down the right, Rhys Murrell-Williamson switched the ball across to the left to Jason Banton who in turn played the ball across and the ball came to Tom Phipp who drove wide of the right post from 20 yards.

Then another quick burst of passing saw Ben Mundele stride forward and fed Murrell-Williamson and his ball into the box was glanced wide of the left post by Joe Taylor.

A goal for Cray was looking very much on the cards and arrived in the fifth minute when good crisp passing saw Bradley Pritchard and Taylor combine to find Murrell-Williamson and then Mundele. The ball fell down the right of the area to Taylor who backheeled the ball to Mundele who smashed a shot high into the roof of the net from 10 yards and made it three goals in three matches for the full back.

Four minutes later and with Cray’s tails up the second goal arrived and after play down the right of the area Murrell-Williamson hit a well struck shot which was well saved by Tyla Dickenson but following up Pritchard scored in his second successive league match from 8 yards and in no time Cray were off and running.

Merstham looked to get some  sort of foothold in the match and a cross from the left by Joedon Gugas-Cowin was put behind by Tom Phipp for a corner.

Then in the 21st minute came Merstham’s best opening of the match when Potchu Mendes Calucane picked up the ball from EJ Mensah’s pass and played a good ball through to Piere-Alexander Morin down the right of the area who from 14 yards fired over the bar.

For Cray, Mundele found Murrell-Williamson who cut in from the right and his shot was blocked well by Antonio Simeone.  Then for Merstham, Gugas-Cowin down the left of the area dragged his shot across goal and wide.

Cray though were playing well and stepped up the gears whenever they felt like it and patient passing saw the ball worked down the left and Parker and Tom Carlse combined to find Jason Banton and his stinging shot from just outside the area drew a fine save from Tyla Dickinson pushing the ball behind for a corner.  From the corner from the left in the 30th minute, Parker’s ball into the box was met by the head of Jay Leader and his low header found its way into the net into the bottom left corner.

Before half time, Merstham looked to get something going in attack and a free kick out on the right was played into the box and Yannick Monga left the ball for Mensah who couldn’t get a firm connection to the ball and went behind.  Then Elliot Bolton found space and hit a shot which was deflected behind for a corner.  Finally for the first half, Morin found Gugas-Cowin whose attempted shot was blocked for a corner.

Cray went into the second half with a three nil lead and once again started the second half strongly and following a free kick in midfield, Parker found Murrell-Williamson who exchanged passes with Mundele who strode forward and hit a sweet strike from 25 yards which brought a good diving save from Dickinson.

Merstham never cleared their lines and in the 48th minute the ball came back to Banton down the left who played a fine ball into the area to Murrell-Williamson who drilled a powerful near post shot past Dickinson for his 4th goal of the season and one his performance deserved.

Cray almost scored a fifth straight after when a cross from Parker found the head of Phipp in the area but his header was pushed out almost on the line by Dickinson.

There was then a spell of substitutions by both side with Kyron Richards coming on for Cray for his first Wands league appearance.   Cray were now completely on top and Murrell-Williamson down the right set up Taylor who flicked just wide.  Then a low drive from Mundele was held by Dickinson.

In the 63rd minute, Cray scored their fifth goal and again good work down the left by Banton saw his angled drive parried out by Dickinson and into the path of Taylor who from five yards tucked home his 10th goal of the season.

Cray kept coming forward and Richards set up Tom Carlse who found a little bit of space just outside the area and his fierce shot just went past the left post.

Merstham to their credit never let their heads drop and kept going with the evergreen Barry Hayles making an appearance in the second half but maybe the nearest they came was when Dylan Cascoe’s looping cross landed on the roof of the net.

Another Cray goal was coming and well worth waiting for as Parker showed good strength to break away from midfield and then played a terrific pass out to the right to Taylor who with impudent confidence chipped the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net for his second of the night.

That was really the cherry on the cake with the other main objective being a clean sheet for the defence and this was achieved and Cray saw out the remaining minutes for a win which moved Cray up into the playoff places on 15 points, six behind leaders Worthing and three behind second placed Cheshunt with games in hand.

Cray certainly showed that the Canvey Island defeat was now out of their system and showed good qualities to take the game by the scruff of the neck early and scored some fine goals and there were some good performances throughout the team but certainly Murrell-Williamson deserves mention as does Mundele, Pritchard and Taylor who gave a classic centre-forward display up front.

The Wands next head to Whitehawk in the FA Trophy on Saturday before a double header of away league matches starting next Tuesday at Bowers & Pitsea and then to Enfield Town as the games come thick and fast in November.      

Cray Wanderers:     Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Mitchell Nelson, Jay Leader, Tom Carlse, Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Jerome Federico, 76), Tom Phipp (Lee Lewis, 70), Bradley Pritchard (Kyron Richards, 56), Jason Banton, Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor:  Subs: Martin Onoabaghbe, Charlie Allen

Merstham:    Tyla Dickinson, Potchu Mendes Calucane, Jude Mason, Elliot Bolton, Antonio Simeone, EJ Mensah, Joedon Gugas-Cowin, Yannick Monga (Dylan Cascoe, 54), Jason Williams, Piere-Alexandre Morin (Ryan Healy, 54), Calum Davies (Barry Hayles, 57): Subs: Bertie Lloyd, Bobby Mills   

Booked:         Hayles 80

Referee:         Jamie Pope

Assistants:    Andrew Simmonds, Michael Iddendon-Smith

Att:  376