Hastings United vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Monday 28th August, 3 pm
Hastings United 3
Rodari 41, Akinwande 64 pen,
Cray Wanderers 0
Cray Wanderers poor start to the season continued as Hastings United inflicted a fifth defeat to begin the campaign for the first time since 1999-2000 and remain one of three clubs yet to register a point this season.
The Wands sporting a classy new slate grey away strip came close twice to scoring in quick succession early in the game through Frankie Raymond and Cameron Thompson but chances overall were few and far between and it was Hastings who took the lead four minutes before half time with their first effort on goal scored by Davide Rodari.
The second half though saw Hastings well on top and made it two nil from the penalty spot after Cameron Black was adjudged to have handled a John Ufuah shot. Before the penalty kick was taken, Yahya Bamba was sent off for two quick fire bookable offences, for looking to delay the taking of the spot kick and then for dissent. From there, Femi Akinwande stroked home the spot kick.
The game was pretty much done and dusted from here and Hastings added a third eight minutes from time when Ufuah turned a Rodari cross goalwards but maybe took a nick off Black and into the net to complete in the end a comfortable victory for in-form Hastings who moved up to 6th in the table and unbeaten after five games.
Cray were looking to bounce back from the 0-2 defeat at Enfield on Saturday where there were some positives despite the loss in the display. Injuries to Jack Holland and Anthony Cook, plus Nyren Clunis and David Ijaha unavailable meant a shuffling off the pack and into the side came Lee Lewis making his return to the club after featuring for Kingstonian against the Wands last season for Archy Taylor with also, Rio Campbell, Tom Penfold and Tom Derry coming into the side. With just one goal in the previous four games the Wands were looking for a bit more punch up front.
Hastings had beaten Concord Rangers, 3-0 on Saturday also at home and made one change to their starting lineup with Jason Fregene coming in for JJ Walker and look to have a very settled, compact side who are hard to score against.
The home side began positively and in the 3rd minute came close when John Ufuah cut inside from the right but hooked his looping shot away from the left post and wide. Then Bailey Akehurst down the left put over a cross which had no takers in the box.
Cray though came close to scoring twice within a minute when in the 11th minute, good work by Bamba down the right saw the ball helped across for Frankie Raymond who hit a stinging shot which was superbly pushed away by Charlie Grainger and once again this season Cray have come up against a keeper in good form.
Then seconds later Bamba became the provider again this time for Cameron Thompson down the right of the box and perhaps should have done better than fire over the bar from 12 yards.
The match went into a bit of a lull with Davide Rodari booked for a challenge on Raymond before the half hour but otherwise the game was passing without much incident with both teams defending stoutly to prevent chances.
However, four minutes before half-time Hastings went ahead when good work by Femi Akinwande down the right saw him cut into the area and his cross was cleared out to Rodari who made no mistake almost on the penalty spot to smash the ball into the net.
Aside from a free kick from Raymond out on the left which aimed towards Black at the far post and drifted away there wasn’t too much activity at all during the second half for Grainger to deal with.
Hastings almost scored a second when Ufuah’s snapshot was well held by Rowley and were beginning to take more of a grip of the game without creating too many opportunities with perhaps the best falling for Akinwande set up by Dominic Vose for a shot that was well blocked.
In the 62nd minute, Hastings were awarded a penalty which was perhaps a touch harsh when Ufuah’s well struck shot was adjudged to have struck the hand of Cameron Black and a penalty kick was awarded.
Before the spot kick, Bamba was shown a yellow card for looking to approach Rowley in the Wands goal thereby delaying the penalty which was deemed worthy of a booking. Then a minute later was shown a second yellow for dissent and Cray were now in disarray especially when Akinwande stroked home the spot kick.
From here, Mason Saunders-Henry and Sam Wood were brought on in the last twenty minutes looking to get Cray back into the game but never really looked like scoring.
In the end and probably in keeping with what was a rather scrappy affair, Hastings added a third eight minutes from time when Rodari was the provider down the right and his ball across was diverted towards goal by Ufuah but looked to have taken a deflection off Black and into the net for one for the dubious goals panel.
Thankfully, Hastings seemed to be content with what they had and made three substitutions to close the game and without perhaps playing at their best had done enough to claim the points and look like being a side who will be in contention this season purely as they lose and concede goals so seldom.
For Cray, the loss of the likes of George Porter, Anthony Cook and Jack Holland through injury has been unfortunate but in the business end of the pitch have found it hard to create and take chances and you could see the heads drop somewhat when the first goal went in as at Enfield Town on Saturday.
The Wands remain 20th in the table with only Concord Rangers and Potters Bar Town below them and now go into an FA Cup break on Saturday looking to get a win to get the season moving and instill a jolt of confidence to the side which last season was never a problem at any stage. The season is still young and lots of time to turn things around but at the moment a combination of injuries and a lack of incision up front is meaning a shortage of confidence and a dampening of the enthusiasm held at the start of August.
Charlie Grainger, Sam Akoye, Bailey Akehurst, Jason Fregane, Craig Stone, Adam Lovett,
Davide Rodari (Freddie Legg, 82), Dominic Vose, Femi Akinwande (Tayo Oyebola, 82), John Ufuah (Knory Scott, 82), Tyler Christian-Law: Subs: Jamal Lubanga, Kian Moynes
Booked: Rodari 27
Shaun Rowley, Lee Lewis, Tom Penfold, Cameron Black, Jamie Mascoll, Will Wood,
Frankie Raymond (Sam Wood, 77), Rio Campbell, Yahya Bamba, Cameron Thompson, Tom Derry (Mason Saunders-Henry, 71): Subs: Archy Taylor, Reggie Rye, Tom King
Sent Off: Bamba 64 (2 cautions)
Booked: Bamba 62, Black 63, Wood 89
Referee: Reece Pinchback
Assistants: Dominic Barrow, Oliver Westgate
Att: 1, 088