Ryman League Division One North: 24/10/15
Dereham Town 2 Morphew 72, Tuttle 90 pen
Cray Wanderers 2 Sodje 11, 90+2
Cray snatched a point from the jaws of defeat at Dereham Town as Omone Sodje’s injury time goal moved Tony Russell’s side six points clear at the top of the table. For the most part this was a fairly mundane match which Cray dominated but a dramatic last half hour saw Dereham reduced to ten men but then score twice including in the 90th minute before Sodje’s late strike.
Cray were again patched up because of injuries and had players playing out of position. There were three changes from Tuesday night with Lewis Tozer returning at the back and Leigh Bremner and Uche Ibemere starting in place of Ben Payne, Mike Frieter and Aryan Tajabkhsh.
Cray began the match on the front foot and looked the part in the opening exchanges. The Wands created the first opening in the sixth minute when good passing saw Karl Dent and Lea Dawson set up Bremner whose effort on the edge of the box was palmed away by keeper Will Viner for a corner. Shortly after Sean Roberts was presented with a shooting opportunity twenty yards out but got under his shot and the ball went over the top.
Cray got the goal their early pressure deserved in the 11th minute. From a free kick twenty five yards from goal, Grant Basey’s cross into the box was nodded into the path of Omone Sodje by a Dereham defender and Sodje’s acrobatic bicycle kick went under the legs of Viner for an excellent goal.
The Wands continued to look the better side with Bremner in particularly having a great game and had an opportunity to score with a Basey free kick but his effort from just outside the area went straight to Viner.
The match then went through a very scrappy phase during which not a lot happened. Dereham were starting to get more possession and looked a lot more threatening but save for a couple of free kicks in good positions and one or two corners, Nick Blue was fairly well protected.
Cray continued to pass the ball well as the half drew to a close and James Duckworth who was playing at right back combined well with Dent to set up Bremner but he shot wide under pressure from a defender. Dereham had a sight of goal five minutes before half time when Dion Frary hit a long range shot which went well wide.
Cray were very unlucky not score a second when a Basey corner was met by the head of the impressive Lewis Tozer and his effort on target was tipped over well by Viner.
Half Time: 0-1
Despite Cray being fairly in control of the game the concern at the break was that it was only one nil and that Dereham would get a chance eventually.
The second half began much the same as the first with Cray looking comfortable but unable to put the finishing touch to some fine approach play. For Dereham, Lewis Butcher hit a long range shot which went wide whilst Ade Osifuwa did the same for Cray from a similar position.
Cray did get the ball in the net through Ibemere but was flagged offside. The Wands then had a big let off as Dereham created their best opening of the game. Luke Tuttle played the ball down the left wing to Rhys Logan and his cross to the back post was headed over by Sam Borrer.
In the 58th minute Dereham were reduced to ten men when Aaron Kay was dismissed for a second bookable offence following a mistimed tackle and was sent off. As is often the case for the team a man short this seemed to inspire the home side who looked better with ten than they did with eleven.
The home side were once again indebted to their keeper who made a very smart save to deny Dent whose effort from the edge of the area was turned away well by Viner. Shortly after Dawson flicked the ball through to Sodje but his effort was blocked by Payton Swatman for a corner. From the corner, Osifuwa couldn’t direct his header on target and the ball went wide. For Dereham, Butcher shot wide under pressure from Tozer as the home side looked to come back.
Cray came close again to scoring when Bremner sent a great ball over to Sodje who met the ball with a fine header but once again Viner did well to push the ball away for a corner. For Dereham, Jack Frohawk shot over the top as the game entered the last twenty minutes
Dereham levelled the scores in the 72nd minute following an award of a free kick out on the left. Tuttle floated the free kick towards the back post and the ball was flicked on into a crowded penalty area and Dan Morphew reacted quickest to tuck the ball home from close range.
Cray had a chance to retake the lead when from another corner the ball came to Sodje who knocked the ball across the box and the ball fell to Dawson who shot wide of the right post.
The game was starting to spring from end to end by this stage and following another floated free kick for Dereham a fine cross shot from Ryan Crisp forced Blue to make a smart save diving to the right. Then James Cooper pulled a shot well wide for Dereham and Dane Moore did the same for Cray when slightly off balance as the game entered the final minute.
There was still plenty of drama to come and in the 90th minute Dereham were presented with a great chance to win the game when Frazer Blake-Tracy played the ball across to Tuttle who was brought down just inside the penalty area and the referee gave a penalty. Tuttle took the kick and confidently scored from the spot to seemingly give Dereham the three points.
As we have discovered this season though, this Cray team is incredibly resilient and never know when they are beaten and two minutes into stoppage time made it 2-2 as a ball towards the area was nodded by Ray Powell to Duckworth whose cross was headed powerfully home by Sodje which silenced the temporarily jubilant home supporters.
Shortly after the final whistle went and Cray in many ways were happy for the point and which to be honest would have been something of a travesty if they hadn’t got something from the game.
Cray once again had shown great character as in several other games this season to keep on going right up to the end and this could yet be a vital point come the end of the season. On another day Cray may well have been three or four nil up but for the keeper and even though the Wands were by no means full strength played a good game at a decent tempo but once again were undone by set pieces as on Tuesday night.
The games come thick and fast at this stage of the season and Cray are on their travels again this Tuesday with a trip to an in form Tilbury. Life is certainly not dull being a Cray fan at present.
Cray: Nick Blue, James Duckworth, Grant Basey, Lewis Tozer, Ade Osifuwa, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Dane Moore, 73), Onome Sodje,
Leigh Bremner, Uche Ibemere (Ray Powell, 90): Subs: Michael Frieter, Dean Carpenter, Sam Faulkner
Dereham: Will Viner, Payton Swatman, Frazer Blake-Tracy, Aaron Kay, Dion Frary, Dan Morphew, Rhys Logan (Lewis Wallace), Sam Borrer (Capt.),
Jack Frohawk (Ryan Crisp, 64), Luke Tuttle, Lewis Butcher (James Cooper, 71)
Sent Off: Kay 58
Booked: Tuttle, Borrer, Morphew