Cray Wanderers vs. Fisher

FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round – Wednesday 23rd September, 2020

Cray Wanderers                                          3

Banton 14, 63, Parker 45

Fisher                                                             1

Coker 33

Photos credit – Jon Hilliger –

Cray Wanderers advanced to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup but certainly were made to work for the victory against a spirited and athletic Fisher side.

In a game of high quality, the Wands went in front just before the quarter hour with a superb curling strike from Jason Banton from just outside the area for his second goal in two games.

Fisher though had a good spell after the goal and struck level with a cracking strike from 25 yards from Malaki Coker which gave Lewis Carey no chance to save.  However, before the break Cray regained the lead when substitute Charlie Allen’s powerful strike was pushed out by Daniel Carpanini and following up Freddie Parker turned in the rebound on the stroke of half time.

The second half saw Fisher pushing forward to score but Cray scored a third in the 63rd minute when Freddie Parker’s ball through to Banton down the left of the area saw the winger score his second of the game squeezing a shot under the keeper to seal the game and a place in the 2nd Qualifying Round draw on Friday.

On an uncharacteristically of late wet evening under the lights at Hayes Lane, a sizable contingent of fans from Bermondsey arrived in the hope of SCEFL Premier Fisher upsetting Isthmian Premier Cray.  Indeed what the FA Cup got was a good, rollicking cup tie, something of a throwback to ties of the past and just what non-league football needs at this difficult time for the game at this level.

Cray began the game with the same starting lineup that began the match with Kingstonian on Saturday.  Fisher had defeated Little Common in the FA Vase and were unbeaten in three including the Preliminary Round victory at Tooting & Mitcham United.

The game started fairly slowly with a bit of sparring in the first ten minutes with Fisher perhaps looking to get a foothold in the game and the Wands perhaps a little slow to get going and Bradley Pritchard received an early booking for a foul.

The first opening of the game fell to Cray in the 12th minute when a magnificent through ball from Mitchell Nelson put Joe Taylor through down the right of the area but seemed to miskick his shot from 8 yards and the ball went wide of the right post.

However, two minutes later Cray went in front with a great goal worked down the left when Jason Banton played the ball out to Tom Carlse who from just outside the area laid the ball across to Banton who took on a Fisher defender, found a little space and from 17 yards curled a shot over the dive of keeper Daniel Carpanini and into the top corner of the net.

Jason Banton curls Cray into an early lead vs Fisher – Pic Jon Hilliger

Fisher looked to come back into it straight away and down the right, Julio Da Mata hit a shot which was deflected behind for a corner.

There was a blow for Cray in the 21st minute when Bradley Pritchard had to go off with a knock and was replaced by Charlie Allen who almost got off to a flyer when he got on the end of a Taylor through ball and into the area but Carpanini did well to come out and smother the ball.

Fisher though were growing in confidence and came close to levelling when Tarik Ibrahim played the ball out to Wale Odedoyn down the right and from 20 yards his cross-shot may have been going wide but Lewis Carey did well to get down to push the ball past the left post for a corner.

Then for Fisher, a ball across to Luke Thomas down the right ended with a near post shot blocked and came out to Ibrahim whose ball across just couldn’t get a touch from Malaki Coker.

In the 33rd minute, the South Londoners got back on level terms with a goal out of nothing when Coker picked the ball up in midfield, strode forward and from 25 yards arrowed in a great shot past Carey and into the bottom right corner of the net.

Three minutes later there was possibly a bit of a let off for Cray when a ball over the top to Odedoyn put him in with a chance and as Carey came out to clear was adjudged to have handled the ball and was shown a yellow card.  It has to be said in my opinion it was probably a right decision for the yellow as not definitely going to score and also so few keepers are sent off for handling outside the area these days.

Cray had perhaps not been at their most fluent best in the opening 45 minutes but on the stroke of half time regained the lead.  A patient build up saw Allen play the ball out to Banton down the left who found Lee Lewis who again found Banton who played the ball across to Allen who from 25 yards saw his well struck pushed out by Carpanini but following up Freddie Parker tucked away the rebound from 6 yards for his second goal of the season.

Freddie Parker puts Cray back in front and celebrates with Tom Carlse – Pic. Jon Hilliger

Fisher were certainly not out of the tie and began the second half well and from corner down the right the ball came out to the impressive Jacob Katonia who shot the edge of the area into the arms of Lewis Carey.

For Cray there weren’t too many chances early on in the second half with perhaps a half chance with Rhys Murrell-Willamson finding Barney Williams but his cross-shot was overhit and went off target.  Then down the right Mitchell Nelson found Williams and his ball into the area was flicked wide of the right post by Joe Taylor.

Fisher were continuing to make a game of it and substitute Trey Small found space to hit a shot from 20 yards which was held well by a diving Carey.

It did seem though that Cray just had to up a couple of gears and a third goal would come and it did in the 63rd minute when Parker from inside his own half played a magnificent pass through to Banton down the left who broke into the area and from 12 yards blasted a shot under Carpanini for his third goal of the season.

Jason Banton scores his second of the game in the 63rd minute – pic. Jon Hilliger

Fisher though never at any time threw in the towel and almost pulled a goal back when Coker who could certainly shoot from distance cracked a shot against the right post and back out into play.

Cray did have more of a semblance of control in the last quarter of an hour and Parker’s right wing cross was looping and claimed by Carpanini and then Murrell-Williamson’s near post shot was blocked for corner.  Then Parker and Banton combined and his superb cross from down the right narrowly missed getting a touch from Taylor and went across goal.

Eleven minutes from time, Ben Mundele came on for his first action of the season for Banton who looks a match winner for Cray despite being not fully fit.  Looking for a goal that would kill of the Fisher challenge, a Parker corner was headed on by Nelson who was possibly Cray’s best player on the night towards goal and was turned in by Jay Leader but was adjudged to have fouled Carpanini.

For Fisher towards the end, a cross from Small down the right into the area was knocked wide of goal by Jack Gibbons.  Then from a corner down the right, Gibbons found Sam Fitzgerald who glanced the ball off target.

In the closing stages, Cray almost scored a fourth goal which might have been a bit harsh on Fisher when Lee Lewis found Murrell-Williamson down the right of the area and his near post shot from nine yards was turned round the post by Carpanini for a corner.

In the end though Cray had done enough to advance and were given a good and tough workout by Fisher who had played some good football and looked a very fit and athletic and have a couple of real finds in Katonia and Coker in particular.

Cray though go through to Friday’s 2nd Qualifying Round draw and means the league match with Merstham that day will be rearranged.  Although Cray were perhaps not at their very best had done enough to progress and got the job done in a game where perhaps they were expected to win and still through the lively Banton show they have a match winner in the side and has started his Cray career firing on all cylinders.  Also the appearance of Charlie Allen augurs well after injury and Parker, two goals in two matches shows a player full of confidence.

Cray now return to league action on Saturday with a trip to Essex to face East Thurrock United, kick off 3pm.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Carlse, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard  (Charlie Allen, 21), Jason Banton (Ben Mundele, 79), Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor: Subs:  Jerome Federico, Ehizojie Onoabagbe, Emanuel Oduguwa, Roman Hall

Booked:         Pritchard, Carey

Fisher:            Daniel Carpanini, Luke Thomas, Peter Ojemen, Julio Da Mata, Dylan Pauw, Sam Fitzgerald, Jamie Yila (Jack Gibbons, 77), Jacob Katonia, Wale Odedoyn, Malaki Coker (Robert Brown, 74), Tarik Ibrahim (Trey Small, 54): Subs: Michael Junior Sarpong, Josh Biddlecombe, Christian Udo, Harry Main

Booked:         Katonia     

Referee:         Craig Pullen  

Assistants:    Kennedy Kikulwe, Gavin Bailey