Ryman U21 Development League North Division: 12/9/16
Cray Wanderers 2
AFC Hornchurch 2
After a difficult start to life in the Ryman Development League North, the Cray U21s notched their first point of the campaign as a dramatic late equaliser helped the Wands draw with AFC Hornchurch at Oakley Road.
Cray showed good resilience to twice come from behind to draw and the point was well deserved after a tremendous game with was a credit to the Development League.
After two heavy defeats to start the season, five players with first team experience came in this evening with Taylor McDonagh, Jai McKinlay, Sean Roberts, Lee Prescott and Danny Haynes starting the game amongst some good young players.
Cray started the game well and came close to scoring early when Roberts found Haynes down the left of the area and his well hit cross shot was pushed round by keeper Joe Bowles. Then McKinlay played a great ball out to Erwin Kurz again down the left and his shot was blocked almost on the line by Will Barry.
The Urchins though looked dangerous at times particularly the lively, Montel McKenzie but Cray defended well. A good opportunity came to Harry Potts whose shot was blocked by Sean Law and his follow up shot was also blocked by McKinlay.
For Cray Kurz played a ball out to Theo Whyte who returned the ball to Kurz who hit a rasping shot from twenty five yards that Bowles had to push over the top.
Around the 25 minute mark Hornchurch started to get more on top and forced a few corners. The a decent three man move saw the ball come to Frankie Holland whose right wing cross found George O’Connor whose header was well held by Law.
Three minutes later though, Hornchurch took the lead. From a throw in down the left the ball found it’s way into the penalty area and Holland struck a tidy finish wide of Law and into the net from ten yards.
Hornchurch did begin to boss the game but two minutes before half time, Cray levelled. A good spell of Cray passing down the saw Haynes find Sean Roberts who from fully twenty five yards let fly with a tremendous shot which flew past Bowles giving him no chance.
Half Time: 1-1
The second half started very even with both sides looking good going forward. Cray best opening early on came to Whyte who hit a dipping shot from long range which only narrowly went past the right post.
For Hornchurch McKenzie fired well over before for Cray the lively Kurz who saw a shot blocked and the follow up he turned wide.
Hornchurch had a very good chance to score when from a corner down the left the ball came to Barry but from a good possession headed the ball wide of goal.
Then the visitors came close again when from a free kick the ball eventually fell to Holland whose shot at the near post was deflected for a corner. From the corner, Barry nodded wide again while for Cray, Whyte saw a shot just go over the crossbar.
Cray had the best chance of the half to take the lead in the 73rd minute when McDonagh playing down the left sent over a tremendous cross which the keeper pushed out and following up, Jayden Mitchell-Brown could only knock the ball over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
Two minutes later, Hornchurch re-took the lead when Cray were pressured at the back to give the ball away and McKenzie ran into the box and found Ellie Fanga who had the task of tapping the ball into the net.
Both sides had chances to score after that. For Hornchurch, O’Connor curled a shot wide whilst Lee Prescott tested Bowles with a low drive.
It looked like Cray’s last chance had gone when Mason Simms sent over a fine cross which Kurz headed fractionally wide.
However, in the last seconds of the game, Cray got a break they probably deserved when another cross by Simms was delivered with accuracy into the area and Will King under pressure could only turn the ball into his own net.
The final whistle went almost instantly after and Cray were able to restore some pride after their difficult start to the season and can be proud of their efforts against another good side.
For their next match the Wands next Monday travel to North London to face Haringey Borough.
Cray: Sean Law, Taylor McDonagh, Theo Whyte, Lee Prescott, Charlie Horbacki (Connor Phelps), Jai McKinlay, Sean Roberts (Merrick Simms), Jayden Mitchell-Brown, Mason Simms, Danny Haynes (Abdul Wahab), Erwin Kurz: Subs: Theo Newton, Shane Pelou.
Hornchurch: Joe Bowles, Alfie Walker, Montel McKenzie, Luke Bolton, Will Barry, Will King, Frankie Holland, Sam Dickens, George O’Connor, Joe Shanahan, Harry Potts (Ellie Fanga)