Folkestone Invicta v Cray Wanderers

Pitching In Isthmian Premier – Tuesday 29th September, 2020

Folkestone Invicta                                     1

Smith 15

Cray Wanderers                                          3

Taylor 24, Allen 62, Murrell-Williamson 67

All pics:  Jon Hilliger                  

Cray Wanderers made it three wins out of three at the start of the Isthmian Premier season with a terrific display to come from behind to beat Folkestone Invicta at the impressive BuildKent Stadium.  Cray remain 2nd in the table and one of three teams along with Bowers & Pitsea and Worthing on maximum points after three games.

Cray who are now 16 games unbeaten in 2020 went behind in the 15th minute when Folkestone scored a well worked goal and David Smith was on hand to jab home Ian Draycott’s cross.  The Wands though are forever resilient and drew level nine minutes when ex-Invicta striker Joe Taylor tucked home a lovely finish under Henry Newcombe to notch his 50th goal for Cray Wanderers in 63 appearances.

Joe Taylor – 50 goals for Cray Wanderers in 63 appearances – Artwork: Ozay Booth

The second half saw Cray grab the initiative with two tremendous finishes with first, Charlie Allen putting Cray in front in the 62nd minute with a crisp low shot down the right of the area.  Then five minutes later, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, again down the right curled a superb shot high into the top left hand corner and although Invicta pushed for a goal, Cray hung on to claim an impressive road victory.

From the side which won at East Thurrock United on Saturday there were a couple of changes with Tom Phipp starting in place of Lee Lewis while Jerome Federico came in for the injured Jason Banton. Folkestone who had beaten Wingate & Finchley in the FA Cup and League in the last week were 10th going into the game with goalkeeper Henry Newcombe in for Tim Roberts and Aaron Simpson in for Scott Heard.

On a thankfully fairly mild evening on the South East Kent coast in front of a crowd of 574, the game got off to a pacey start and Cray had the first real opening when Mitchell Nelson down the right spread the play out to the left to Rhys Murrell-Williamson who fizzed his cross-shot across the goal and missed the far post.

Folkestone though were playing well and Simpson won the ball in midfield and hit a shot from 20 yards which was well fielded by Lewis Carey.  Then David Smith who made a lively start to the game saw a shot blocked.

After fifteen minutes, Folkestone took the lead when Cray lost possession and Simpson played the ball down the right to the experienced Ian Draycott whose ball across from the byline towards the near post was stabbed home by Smith for his third goal of the season.

This forced a fine response from Cray and Taylor and Federico combined to set up Tom Phipp for a shot from 25 yards which was held by Newcombe. 

Cray were beginning to look threatening and drew level in the 24th minute when good work down the right starting with Jay Leader then Freddie Parker found Murrell-Williamson who played a short pass to Taylor who turned a defender and from 13 yards rolled the ball under Newcombe to reach the 50 goal milestone for the Wands and his fifth already of this campaign.

Joe Taylor slots into the net to tie the game at 1-1

Tony Russell’s side now had their tails up and nearly took the lead a couple of minutes later when Federico and Taylor combined to set up Murrell-Williamson down the right of the area and his shot was met by a fine one handed save from Newcombe to claw the ball away.

Then a free kick out on the right from Freddie Parker was played short to Taylor who flicked an effort wide of the right post.  Then Federico down the left saw a shot blocked.

Before half time though Invicta showed they could attack with menace and Draycott found Jordan Wright down the left and he broke into the area and his cross-shot was blocked.  Then, from a free kick out on the right the ball came to Ronnie Dolan who drove a shot wide but at half time the scores were tied at 1-1.

There was a blow for Invicta at half time as Draycott went off with an injury and was replaced by Adem Ramadan.  

The second half was a lively affair and early on Taylor set up Murrell-Williamson for an effort that was blocked and then from a free kick 25 yards from goal, Parker fired over the bar.  At the other end, Ramadan down the left found Smith in the box who saw his effort blocked and came back out to Smith whose shot was blocked by Jay Leader.

For Cray, Murrell-Williamson cut in from the right and curled over the bar while for Folkestone Simpson found Ramadan who volleyed over the bar.

Cray though were biding their time to strike and on 62 minutes when ahead for the first time when Parker found Federico who burst down the left, played the ball across to Taylor who held the ball up and Parker played a pass to Charlie Allen inside the area and from 14 yards leathered the ball with power and precision past Newcombe into the bottom left corner.

Charlie Allen crashes home a superb finish to put Cray in front

The Wands now firmly had their tails up and five minutes later struck a decisive third goal when Taylor again held the ball up well for Murrell-Williamson whose effort was blocked but came back out to him and from 20 yards curled an unstoppable shot high into the top left corner of the net for his second goal of the season.

Rhys Murrell-Williamson celebrates after curling home Cray Wanderers third goal

Folkestone certainly didn’t throw the towel in and kept pushing for a break and a goal to get back in the game. Firstly a cross from the left found Wright who shot wide and then from a corner, the ball came to Ramadan and his effort was held on his line by Carey.

Still Folkestone pressed and Simpson fired over the top from the left of the area and then substitute Clark Woodcock saw a near post effort saved by Carey and then saw another curling effort held by the Wands keeper.

Cray were managing the game superbly well and almost scored a fourth near the end when Murrell-Williamson curled another fine shot which narrowly scraped the crossbar.

In the end though Cray picked up the three points against a very good side who were two points and two places behind the Wands when last season ended and will be challengers again.  The Wands though go from strength to strength and this was always going to be a test of the unbeaten run and this was a great team performance with Federico outstanding, the returning Tom Phipp impeccable in midfield, Taylor sharp as a tack up front and Charlie Allen displaying dead eye finishing while Murrell-Williamson got stronger and stronger as the game went on. Defensively Cray were getting in blocks and challenges and Lewis Carey was sound in goal.

After back to back away league wins and a trip to Potters Bar Town next Tuesday, before that Cray are at Moneyfields in the FA Cup on Saturday while Folkestone host a fascinating clash with Chatham Town. On the evidence of this game both sides will be contenders for the league this season but Cray just go from strength to strength.

Tony Russell celebrates the victory with Rhys Murrell-Williamson and Jason Banton


Folkestone Invicta:  Henry Newcombe, Josh Vincent, Jordan Wright, Finn O’Mara, Callum Davies (Capt.), Michael Everitt (Clark Woodcock, 70), Aaron Simpson, Ronnie Dolan, Ian Draycott (Adem Ramadan, H/T), David Smith, Sam Hasler:  Subs:  Tyler Sterling, Connor Collins

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Carlse, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Tom Phipp (Ben Mundele, 87), Charlie Allen, Jerome Federico (Stefan Abatan, 80), Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor: Subs:  Ehizojie Onoabagbe, Roman Hall

Referee:         Jack Fagg   

Assistants:    Richard Joss, Christopher Cannon        

Att:     574