Enfield Town vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 1st April – Match Report

Enfield Town                                       1

Cunnington 6 mins

Cray Wanderers                                 1

Sodje 81

Pics:  Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers kept their hopes of a first ever place in the Isthmian Premier playoffs alive after a late goal from Harrison Sodje earned a hard earned point at fifth placed Enfield Town.

Cray recovered well after a strong start from Enfield Town who took the lead in the 6th minute through Adam Cunnington’s close range finish but in a game of few chances and high intensity the Wands dug in and Sodje’s second goal in consecutive games nine minutes from time gained a point which over the course of the match was a deserved outcome.

Neil Smith’s side remain sixth in the table on 64 points, four behind Enfield Town each with four games to go as the race for promotion seems to be heading to a crunch couple of games over Easter.

On a very grey afternoon but thankfully dry after recent rain had the game in doubt up to morning of the match the stakes were high and an Enfield win would have meant a seven point gap which may have been too much to bridge in the final three weeks of the season.

Cray had won four in a row in March and from the side which beat Horsham 5-3 last Saturday into the side came Shaun Rowley, Jalen Jones, Dajon Golding and David Ijaha in place of Liam Northwood, Matt Weaire, Dan Bassett and Yahaya Bamba.  Enfield had lost one of the last eight league games and were unbeaten in three and named an unchanged side from the one which drew with Hornchurch on Tuesday night.

This looked like being a tough test from the outset and after early sparring Enfield were the first to threaten in the fifth minute when ex-Wand Andre Coker got behind the Wands defence down the left but was denied by a fine save from Shaun Rowley who did well to follow up an effort from Adam Cunnington and eventually Jalen Jones had to put the ball behind for a corner.  From the corner down the right the ball was played into a crowded six yard box but Rowley was unable to claim the ball and the loose ball was turned in by Cunnington from about five yards out.

Enfield looked to press home their advantage and Lewis Taaffe fired over from outside the area before Cray looked to get a foothold in the game.

The match became rather scrappy and fragmented and there wasn’t a great deal of flow with a few stoppages thrown in for good measure.

Cray began to get more into the game and Sam Wood hit a shot over from just outside the area.  Then from a free kick out on the right Wood’s ball into the area was headed over from ten yards by Jalen Jones.

The intensity of the game led to yellow cards for Freddie Carter and James Dayton after the half hour and there were few chances up to half time.

For Enfield, Dayton fired a shot wide and a minute before the break, Coker got to the left byline and his cross-shot was saved by the feet of Rowley.  

Again before the break there were yellow cards for Dajon Golding and Lewis Knight and the Wands had a shout for a penalty when Johnville Renee seemed to fall to the ground and handle the ball but nothing was given and at half time it was looking like becoming a war of attrition.

HT:  1-0

The second half began much the same way with Enfield not getting much joy going forward due to the excellent Jones and Carter at the back.

Cray did threaten to level early on when a cross from Harrison Sodje down the left was played into the area and Tom Derry’s flicked header was held by Nathan McDonald in the Enfield goal.  Then Jephte Tanga’s ball into the area aiming for Derry was headed behind for a corner.

The Wands introduced Dan Bassett and Yahaya Bamba in the 64th minute in place of Golding and Nyren Clunis as Cray sought a goal which would keep their playoff hopes alive.

A few minutes later Destiny Oladipo came on for Wood and had been a lucky charm in recent games against Potters Bar Town and Brightlingsea Regent and certainly seemed to make a difference here too.

Enfield came close to a second goal when Chez Isaac’s cross was headed out by Carter and came to Jake Cass whose low shot was well saved by Rowley.

It was just looking like time might be running out but in the 81st minute Cray drew level when Tanga’s ball into the area front the right came to Dan Bassett whose shot was blocked by Lewis Knight but Derry kept the ball alive and set up Sodje for a shot from just outside the area which gave McDonald no chance to save and tied the game and set up a dramatic last ten minutes and stoppage time.

Cray almost went in front shortly after when Bassett down the left sent a ball over towards the near post where Oladipo reacted quickest to shoot and was blocked behind for a corner via a touch from McDonald.

Then Anthony Cook’s free kick out on the left played into the area was turned over by Knight for a corner under pressure from Freddie Carter.

Enfield did manage to exert some late pressure and Taaffe’s cross was volleyed wide by Cunnington who had a good battle up against Jones and Carter.

The final drama came in stoppage time when from a throw in down the left from Joe Payne was flicked into the box towards Cunnington whose effort was stopped by a fine one handed save from Rowley and following up James Richmond went down in the area but no penalty was given and Cray held out for a gutsy point.

In the end the game finished in a draw which was about right but perhaps overall a point was perhaps better for Enfield who maintained their four point gap with Lewes in 7th place also drawing at Margate but with four more games to go Cray will keep on going and with Enfield having to play Horsham, league leaders Bishop’s Stortford and Aveley before the end of the season the Wands will be looking to finish the season with a high starting with Corinthian Casuals on Saturday and aim to keep the pressure on to claim an historic place in the Isthmian Premier playoffs.

Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Johnville Renee, Joe Payne, James Dayton (Chez Isaac, 60), Lewis Knight, James Richmond, Lewis Taaffe (Lyle Della-Verde, 86), Sam Youngs, Jake Cass, Andre Coker (Khale De Costa, 60), Adam Cunnington: Subs:  Marcus Wyllie, Joshua Okotcha

Booked: Coker 6 mins, Dayton 36, Knight 45, Richmond 51, Della-Verde 90

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Jephte Tanga, Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter, Harrison Sodje, Sam Wood (Destiny Oladipo, 71), David Ijaha, Nyren Clunis (Yahaya Bamba, 64), Anthony Cook, Dajon Golding (Dan Bassett, 64), Tom Derry: Subs: Marcus Sablier, Rio Campbell

Booked: Carter 32, Golding 45

Referee: Thomas Hood

Assistants: George Younger, Yashar Yekta

Att: 535