Enfield Town vs. Cray Wanderers – Match Report

Isthmian League Premier – Saturday 25th January, 2020  


Enfield Town                                                 2

Blackman 57, Bricknell 60 pen

Cray Wanderers                                            3

Allen 38, 83, Leader 90+3


Cray Wanderers continued their unbeaten start to 2020 and moved up to 3rd in the Isthmian Premier League table after a dramatic come from behind victory at fellow playoff contenders Enfield Town.  The game looked to be heading for a draw but Jay Leader’s header three minutes into injury time earned Cray the points against an Enfield side reduced to ten men for the last quarter of an hour.

In a match that promised so much before the game it certainly lived up to the star billing and Charlie Allen who started the game as the main striker in the absence of Joe Taylor, capped off a series of personal performances by putting Cray in front in the 38th minute with a superb lofted chip-shot over keeper Nathan McDonald.  Cray just had the edge for most of the game to that point but the match turned around completely in the space of three minutes as Ryan Blackman steered home in the 57th minute and three minutes later Billy Bricknell converted a penalty after Ken Charles was upended by Ben Mundele just inside the area.

The game had another twist as Enfield who had taken control of the match when in the 77th minute, Blackman was sent off for a second bookable offence.  Cray sought at least a point with the man advantage and did draw level when Allen scored his second of the game when he turned home Rhys Murrell-Willamson’s flick to make it 2-2.  Finally to cap off the match, three minutes into injury time, Bradley Pritchard’s right wing corner was met by the head of Leader who emphatically placed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net and a big three points was secured.

The two sides had played out another match classic at Hayes Lane in October which Town won 5-3 and since then both sides have been in and around the playoff places since.  Cray came into the game unbeaten in 5 games and started 5th while Enfield Town were 7th, three points behind Cray and last weekend celebrated their 1000th game as a club.

For Cray there were three changes to the side which beat Lewes last Saturday with Lee Lewis, Joel Rollinson and Bradley Pritchard coming in for Karl Dent, Jerome Federico and Joe Taylor who was unavailable awaiting a new arrival to his family.  Tom Murphy has since departed the club and joined Hythe Town.

On a grey, murky but dry afternoon Cray set off at an impressive pace and took the game to Enfield but the home side with the experience of Bricknell up front and pace out wide were always going to be a threat.

Cray after probing for an early opening had the first real attempt on goal when Rhys Murrell-Williamson who started the game impressively set up Lee Lewis who fired over the top.  Meanwhile, Ryan Blackman received his first caution of the game in the 5th minute.

Enfield though, showed their qualities and a ball played down the left found Bricknell who held off Mitchell Nelson and fired a shot just wide of the right post.

Cray then had a decent spell of pressure and from a throw in the ball came to Tom Phipp who shot over the top and then from a ball in from the left, Jay Leader hooked an effort over.  The Wands were then a little unlucky not to take the lead with a very special goal when Joel Rollinson’s cross from the right found Pritchard inside the area and his overhead kick only just cleared the crossbar.

Cray continued to play well and Murrell-Williamson set up Barney Williams who hit a well struck shot over from the edge of the area.  Then, Rollinson was unlucky when his dipping shot was tipped over the bar by Nathan McDonald.  Then from a right wing corner the ball came to Phipp on the edge of the area who hooked a shot against the angle of post and crossbar and following up Allen shot against McDonald’s legs but had been flagged offside.

Enfield looked to get forward and a Bricknell shot was deflected behind for a corner and then a cross in from the left by Joe Payne was put behind by Nelson for a corner.  Perhaps Enfield’s best opening of the half came on the half hour when Lyle Della-Verde down the right cut inside and fired in a cross-shot which Lewis Carey did well to push behind.  Meanwhile for Cray, from a free kick, Pritchard set up Rollinson who shot over.

A goal duly arrived for Cray which came in the 38th minute when Murrell-Williamson played a ball forward from just over the half way line towards Charlie Allen who beat Marc Weatherstone for pace to win the ball and from just outside the area deftly lifted the ball over McDonald and dropped into the net for his first goal for Cray Wanderers.

 The frenetic pace continued and Bricknell saw an effort blocked by Carey as Enfield looked to get straight back into the game.

Cray though almost added a second when from a free kick just outside the area to the right, Murrell-Williamson curled the ball round the wall and McDonald at his near post had to turn the ball behind.

Then Allen almost scored his second when he won another race with Weatherstone to latch onto a through ball and managed to take the ball round McDonald but with the angle tightening squeezed a shot just across and wide of the left post.

H/T: 0-1

The only down side of the first half was a slight knock for Tom Phipp and was replaced by Karl Dent at half time.

The game continued to swing from end to end and Enfield won a couple of early corners but Murrell-Williamson almost added to Cray’s lead when down the left, held off a defender to work an opening but shot wide.  Then Murrell-Williamson down the left found Dent who ran to the byline and his ball across was blocked by the legs of McDonald for a corner.  From the corner, the ball came to Leader but hooked an effort over.

Enfield were beginning to exert a bit more pressure and Della-Verde fired in a shot from 20 yards which was held by Carey.

Then in the 57th minute, Enfield drew level with a well taken goal as the ball was worked down the right to Della-Verde and his ball across found Blackman who steered his shot wide of Carey and into the bottom left to make it 1-1.

The game then turned round completely on the hour when Ken Charles was adjudged to have been tripped just inside the area by Ben Mundele and a penalty was awarded.  From the spot, Bricknell stroked home the spot-kick and Enfield were now ahead.

Another key substitution for Cray came with twenty minutes to go when Palace Francis came on for his league debut and certainly made a big impression and helped swing the game back Cray’s way.

Enfield almost scored a third when Bricknell came close to scoring again when Della-Verde again down the right combined with Bricknell who from just outside the area curled a shot over.  Then from a free kick, Della-Verde’s ball into the box was turned behind by Nelson for a corner.

However, in the 77th minute, Blackman was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Francis in midfield and was dismissed and Cray had a man advantage for the remainder of the game.

This Cray team fight on to the bitter end and In the 83rd minute, the Wands drew level when a free kick out on the left was played towards Francis who flicked a header towards Murrell-Williamson who in turn hooked the ball towards Allen who showed great composure to fire into the net from 12 yards and it was now 2-2.

Cray won a couple of late corners but it looked like the game was going to end in a draw but there was another twist to the captivating plot to follow.

In the third minute of injury time, Cray won a corner down the right and from the corner, Pritchard’s ball across was perfectly placed towards the back of the area when Leader stole in to place a fine header which flew past McDonald and Cray for the second away game in a row had won the match with a late goal showing their character.

Cray held out for the remaining minutes and Cray picked up a big three points against a fellow contender and now puts Tony Russell’s side 3rd in the table and four points behind 2nd placed Folkestone Invicta.  Cray now embark on a tough February which sees matches against Horsham, Worthing, Kingstonian, Folkestone Invicta and East Thurrock United with Horsham coming up on Saturday and sees 3rd take on 4th in the table.

There were plenty of positives to come from the game but perhaps the performance of Allen deserves mention as the lone front man but the two wide players Rollinson and Murrell-Williamson had good games and the midfield was excellent while the defence were for the most part rock solid during the match against a very good and purposeful Enfield Town side who are still very much a live playoff contender at this stage of the season.  Cray though are in confident mood at the start of the decade and go into February full of optimism.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele (Aaron Rhule, 80), Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp (Karl Dent, H/T), Lee Lewis (Palace Francis, 70), Bradley Pritchard, Joel Rollinson, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Charlie Allen:  Subs: Jerome Federico, Geofrey Okonkwo

Booked:          Dent

 Enfield Town:    Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas, Marc Weatherstone (Capt.), Josh Urquhart, Lyle Della-Verde (Junior Mubiayi, 78), Ryan Blackman, Billy Bricknell (Sam Hatton, 88), Sam Youngs, Ken Charles (Glenn Wilson, 80):  Subs:  Kezie Ibe, Samson Esan

Sent Off:         Blackman 77

Booked:          Blackman, Della-Verde        


Referee:          Daniel Simpson        

Assistants:     John Perry, Matthew Ball

 Attendance – 303