Bostik League South – 1/1/2018
Greenwich Borough 0
Cray Wanderers 0
Cray Wanderers began 2018 by grabbing a very useful point following a tough goalless draw at Greenwich Borough. The draw extended Cray’s unbeaten league run to 19 games and keeps Cray in second place, two points behind leaders Lewes and two ahead of third placed Corinthian Casuals.
On a mixture of sunny, grey overcast and at the end wet start to the year it was the home side who had much the better of the first half after a good start by Cray with Nick Blue excelling to make three superb saves to keep the score at 0-0 at the interval. The Wands were unfortunate to lose Aaron Rhule, five minutes before half time through injury and also Michael Freiter came off at half time as the gruelling Christmas/New Year schedule began to take its toll.
In the second half Cray were much more in control of things with Karl Dent pulling the strings and from his free kick, the ball came to Lea Dawson who headed against the post with the keeper beaten and then saw an effort blocked on the line as Cray just couldn’t force their way through.
In the end both defences who are immensely strong did enough to hold out but in the end two tired teams fought out a draw that was about right on reflection.
Tony Russell had the luxury of naming an unchanged side for the third game in a row and had picked up seven points from their Christmas games. Gary Alexander’s Greenwich Borough side have been one of the form teams in the Bostik South and had won four in a row and unbeaten in eight and won 2-1 at Ramsgate on Saturday, coming from behind to do so.
Cray began positively and Aaron Rhule won an early corner which from Michael Freiter’s kick the ball was punched away well by George Kamourasi. Greenwich though felt they had a shout for a penalty following a challenge on the lively Jack Barham but nothing was given.
The Wands thought they had taken the lead after 12 minutes when the referee allowed an advantage after Ben Mundele was brought down by Kaka Dembele, the ball broke to Brandon Scott down the right who played an accurate ball across where Rhule stabbed the ball into the net but must have just strayed ahead of the defender as was flagged offside.
Cray then had a chance to go ahead when Jay Leader hit a shot from 30 yards which was deflected off Callum McGeehan into the path of Lea Dawson inside the area who cleverly fed the ball back to Michael Power whose shot was deflected over the bar for a corner.
Greenwich though attacked with good pace and intelligence and almost took the lead when Sam Corne found Travis Gregory down the right of the area and his shot to the near post was blocked by Blue.
Then for Cray from a throw in Zak Henry found Power down the right of the area but his shot was comfortably gathered at the right post by Kamurasi. This was followed by an effort from Nathan Paul for Greenwich was blocked.
Greenwich though came closest yet when Tom Beere saw a close range shot very well saved by the diving Nick Blue who did even better to save from the follow up from Chinedu McKenzie. The loose ball came back to Beere whose goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Leader.
Cray were struggling at this stage to get anything going at all in attack and McKenzie headed over as Greenwich continued to dominate.
There was a blow for Cray five minutes before the break when Rhule pulled up chasing a ball forward and had to leave the field to be replaced by Jerome Federico. He seemed to be in quite serious pain but hopefully he will soon be on the mend.
Before half time Greenwich were denied once again the brilliance of Blue when Bradley Pritchard set up Corne for a shot from the edge of the box which looked to heading for the bottom left corner but for an excellent one handed diving save.
Cray were very much the happier to go in at half time at 0-0 as Borough were beginning to turn the screw.
Half Time: 0-0
The second half saw Karl Dent introduced for Freiter who picked up a knock before the break.
Greenwich again started well and this time down the right the very lively Barham cut inside to fire in a shot that was deflected behind for a corner.
Then Pritchard set up Gregory who half hit a shot from 20 yards which was gathered well by Blue.
Around the hour mark, Cray came the closest to breaking through second half when from a free kick 25 yards out on the left, Dent swung in a kick which was met by Dawson who got the merest glance to the ball which beat Kamurasi but came back off the right post, keeping the ball alive, Power played the ball back to Scott who from the edge of the area drove a shot which was deflected over for a corner.
Then good work by the increasingly influential Scott who had been well shackled by Dembele for much of the game who at the second attempt worked his way down the right to close to the by line where he played the ball across but was slightly behind Power and couldn’t get a strong enough connection to divert the ball on goal and Federico couldn’t get a touch to keep the move going.
Greenwich were still looking good going forward but Cray were enjoying their best spell of the game came close again through Dawson. From a corner down the left, the ball from Dent was pushed out by Kamurasi under pressure from the Cray skipper and Power nudged the ball back towards Dawson and the ball was blocked almost on the line by the big Greenwich keeper as Cray couldn’t force the ball over the line.
The home side had one or two moments inside the Wands penalty area where Cray had to defend stoutly but it was noticeable in the last ten minutes or so that both teams had looked rather tired and a 0-0 draw seemed quite inevitable but for something dramatic and in the end a draw was the right outcome with both defences in great form. Four games in nine days had really drained both teams but at the start of the game many of our supporters would have taken a draw along with Lewes’ defeat at Horsham meaning they gained a point on the leaders with a game in hand.
Cray are next in action after a short respite on Sunday in another crunch clash with Walton Casuals at Hayes Lane which promises to be another close game.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Zak Henry, Michael Freiter (Karl Dent, H/T), Michael Power (Freddie Parker, 78), Aaron Rhule (Jerome Federico, 41), Brandon Scott: Subs: Dean Carpenter, Marcus Evans
Booked: Henry, Williams
Greenwich Borough: George Kamurasi, Nathan Paul, Kaka Dembele, Mark Phillips (Capt.), Callum McGeehan, Travis Gregory, Tom Beere, Bradley Pritchard, Sam Corne, Chinedu McKenzie, Jack Barham: Subs: Cameron Reardon, Ali Fuseini, Femi Ogunbiyi
Booked: Dembele, Beere, Pritchard
Referee: Isaac Searle
Assistant Referees: Steven Perry, Jamie MacLeod