Ryman League Division One South – 11/3/17
East Grinstead Town 4
Hogan 20 pen, Elliott 34, Gregory 58, 68
Cray Wanderers 2
Medley 65 pen, 90+2 pen
East Grinstead Town completed a league double over Cray Wanderers as the Wands disappointing league form continued making it seven games without a win for Tony Russell’s side.
The Wands were hoping with four home defeats in a row that a change of scenery might help end their winless run but after starting on the front foot were caught by two goals on the break for the home side to leave Cray two down at half time. A Dan Hogan penalty after 20 minutes gave the Wasps the lead against the run of play and grabbed a second in the 34th minute with a crisp finish from leading scorer Marcus Elliott. Cray went three goals behind just before the hour when Travis Gregory scored but Cray pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through Luke Medley with twenty five minutes still to play. Three minutes later, Gregory notched his second to thwart hopes of a Cray comeback before Medley scored his second goal, again from the penalty spot in stoppage time.
There were a couple of changes to the Cray side from the team which played Walton Casuals last Saturday. In to the team came, Paul Lorraine for the injured Danny Haynes and Zak Henry who made his first start for the Wands in place of the suspended Lea Dawson. Ben Mundele moved to a forward position to give support to Luke Medley with Nathan Fox at right back.
East Grinstead in 18th place under interim management had been beaten 0-6 at Herne Bay last Saturday and it was Cray who began the game the more threatening side with Jay Leader in particular posing problems for the home side. Firstly a left wing corner from Karl Dent was flicked by Leader towards the near post but was cleared away by Drew Cooney. Then another flick on by Leader fell to Brandon Scott but his effort was blocked.
Cray came close when a free kick from Jey Siva out on the left was floated towards goal and again Leader posed problems with a header which was claimed by keeper Chris Haigh. Then in the 18th minute, a corner from Dent was nodded on by Paul Lorraine to Nathan Fox who teed up Scott for a shot which was off target.
Two minutes later and totally unexpectedly, East Grinstead had the chance to take the lead. The ball was worked down the right to Alex Gaggin who put a ball across to Travis Gregory who was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area by Lorraine. Dan Hogan stepped up and coolly slotted the ball past Nick Blue to give the Wasps the lead.
Cray looked to come back straight away from a free kick played towards Lorraine who glanced the ball away from goal but Scott kept the move going and found Dent whose effort was deflected towards goal and was claimed by Haigh.
The Wands were caught again with another sucker punch eleven minutes before half time when a move down the left saw Hogan somehow squeeze a ball through to Marcus Elliott who had a clear sight of goal and crashed a fine shot into the net for his 23rd goal of the season.
Cray looked to get back into it before half time and began to carve out openings. Firstly, straight after the second goal, Ben Mundele found himself inside the area and his shot from six yards came off the foot of Haigh and the ball was cleared. Then from a throw in the ball was flicked on by Leader to Dent who turned a shot wide of the left post. Then after a period of pressure around the box, Scott dragged a shot wide.
The best chance of the half for Cray came four minutes before half time when Siva’s right wing corner to the far post was met by the head of Leader which came back off the angle of post and crossbar and Nathan Fox following up was unlucky to see his header from five yards go over the bar.
A minute later, Cray had a let off when again Hogan found Elliott down the left who as Blue advanced from goal took the ball round him but from a rather tight angle saw his goalbound effort cleared off the line by a combination of Lorraine and Fox.
Despite having the lion’s share of the game Cray found themselves two goals down at the break.
Half Time: 2-0
When the two teams met at Hayes Lane in December, Cray led 2-0 at half time before East Grinstead came back to win, so could the roles be reversed this afternoon.
Cray started the half brightly again and Medley fired a free kick over the bar, Then Scott took advantage of hesitancy at the back to work his way down the right and put over a fine cross to the far post where Medley couldn’t divert his header on goal.
The game was getting rather stretched and from a cross down the left the ball came to Jake McIntyre who lashed a volley over the bar for the Wasps. Cray looked to apply pressure again and Dent tested Haigh with a shot from twenty yards which the keeper got down to save.
Then from a corner won by Dent down the left, Siva’s cross to the far post was pushed away by Haigh under pressure from Lorraine out to Leader who hit a volley from seven yards over the bar.
East Grinstead were perhaps being a lot more clinical in their finishing and in the 58th minute scored a third goal when from a quick break Tom Cadman found Gregory who ran on and placed a shot wide of Blue to make it 3-0.
It looked like it was going to be one of those days where nothing would go right for Cray especially when in a scramble inside the area the ball came off Medley, hit the post and saved on the line and not over as Medley claimed.
Cray though did pull a goal back in the 65th minute when Mundele who had a good game down the left made a surging run into the area and was brought down by Cadman for a penalty. Medley stepped up to confidently score from the spot.
The Wand’s hopes though of one of their legendary comebacks this season were dashed three minutes later when Cray never really cleared their lines following a corner. The right wing cross was only partially cleared and the loose ball was despatched emphatically by Gregory down the left to make it 4-1.
This really knocked the stuffing out of Cray who battled to try and score again but Medley saw a shot deflected behind by Cooney and then Sean Roberts tried his luck from twenty five yards which Haigh saved well. Nathan Fox then shot well wide and Mundele went close again before the end.
Cray did have the last word on the day when two minutes into stoppage time, Medley was upended by McIntyre for the third penalty award of the afternoon. Again, Medley despatched the penalty well although Haigh was close to getting his hand to the shot.
In the end Cray despite having the better openings were beaten by a side who took their chances extremely well and the Wands winless run goes on. There were some good individual performances from Ben Mundele, Luke Medley and in particular, Jay Leader, captain for the day who led by example and was a constant threat. .You feel luck must surely change for them soon and perhaps just need a scruffy win to help them back on the right track.
The defeat for Cray drops them down one place to twelfth in the table one place behind next Saturday’s opponents South Park.
Cray: Nick Blue, Nathan Fox, Jey Siva (Timi Osidobu, 75), Jay Leader (Capt.), Paul Lorraine, Zak Henry, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Dane Luchford, 58), Luke Medley, Ben Mundele, Brandon Scott (Anthony Adesite, 58): Subs: Sean Law, Jai McKinlay
East Grinstead: Chris Haigh (Capt.), Tom Cadman, Malachi Robinson, Drew Cooney, Jake McIntyre, Will Thomas (Will Hoare, 9, Don Uzga, 80)), Dan Hogan, Alex Gaggin, Alex Mulrooney-Skinner (Tashi Kwayie, 75), Marcus Elliott, Travis Gregory
Referee: Craig Robson
Assistants: Derek Hughes, Sean Phillips