BetVictor Isthmian Premier – Tuesday 22nd October, 2019  

Horsham                                                        1

Dawson 35

Cray Wanderers                                            1

Leader 37


Cray Wanderers remain unbeaten on their travels away from home in the Isthmian Premier Division this season with a well earned and merited point from a competitive and lively match at Horsham.

After a quiet start to the game the match sprung into life around the half hour mark and for the third successive away game Cray fell behind when ex-Wands skipper Lea Dawson steered a header into the net in the 35th minute to give 2nd placed Horsham the lead.  However, two minutes later Cray levelled when Jay Leader also scored with a header to restore parity.  The second half saw Horsham impressive at the start but Cray weathered the storm and could have won it at the end with Joe Taylor and Bradley Pritchard going close to scoring.

Cray were looking to make it 3 away wins in a week but this was always going to be a tough test as the two sides promoted from the Isthmian South-East battled it out at the impressive Camping World Community Stadium on a fairly chilly evening.

From the side which won at Lewes on Saturday into the side came Tom Murphy in place of Karl Dent while Tom Phipp started for Barney Williams.  Horsham have settled nicely in their new ground and in the league and all the ingredients were there for a competitive and fascinating clash.

The game began with a fair bit of sparring with Cray perhaps just edging the match and had the first shooting opportunity when from a free kick 25 yards out, Tom Murphy fired over the bar.

Shortly after Cray had a half chance when Tom Phipp hit a shot from distance which was deflected behind for a corner.

At this stage Horsham weren’t getting any change out of Mitchell Nelson and Jay Leader at the back and Lewis Carey was well protected in the Cray goal.

Cray put a nice move together which ended with Murphy’s cross falling to Bradley Pritchard whose shot inside the area was blocked.

Horsham looked to work an opening down the right and Zack Newton inside the area saw his effort blocked.

From the 25th minute the game just began to develop a little bit of edge with Murphy and Alex Kelly booked and became a little bit spikey for a short while.

Chances had been few and far between in the first half hour but in the 35th minute, Horsham took the lead.  From a free kick out on the right close to the touchline, Charlie Harris whipped over a fine cross towards the far post where Dawson rose above Phipp to place a header wide of Carey and into the bottom left corner.

However, this Cray side are resilient and tenacious and once again as at Merstham and Lewes responded by drawing level two minutes later.  Tom Carlse won a corner down the left and Murphy’s cross was headed across goal by Nelson who got above keeper George Bentley to Jay Leader who glanced his header into the net for his second goal of the season.

Before the break the intensity levels rose again and the game was getting a bit fractious and Dawson was booked for a strong tackle on Pritchard and Charlie Allen was also booked alongside Rob O’Toole for Horsham.  Also on half time Cray made strong appeals for a penalty for handball from Carlse’s cross possibly came off a defender’s arm but nothing was given.  Half time was probably the best thing for the game to allow the teams just to recover.

Half Time:  1-1

The second half began with Horsham starting much the stronger in terms of attacking and from a free kick Harris’ s shot was deflected behind for a corner.

Then Horsham had a good chance to take the lead when Harris found Newton who down the right of the area curled a shot just wide of the left post.

Two more cautions followed by Harris and Nelson and for Horsham from a free kick possibly 30 yards from goal, Harris stepped up and his shot was well pushed over by Carey.

Horsham continued to have the better of the exchanges and O’Toole saw a shot from distance deflected through to Carey.

Cray brought on Jerome Federico and Barney Williams to perhaps stem the tide of the game and this did seem to work as Cray were able to spring forward and began to take the game to Horsham in the closing quarter of an hour.

In the 75th minute Cray came close to going in front when a ball was played forward from midfield through to Joe Taylor who hadn’t had much change out of the Horsham defence but worked hard and found himself who advanced on goal and fired a shot fractionally wide of the left post.

Then Murphy’s left wing cross was looping towards the far post but just drifted over before Taylor could apply a touch.  The Wands then won a corner down the left and Murphy’s ball into the area was headed off target b Nelson.

Cray almost took the lead after some neat play saw Taylor find Federico down the right and his ball across was flicked wide of the left post from 12 yards by Pritchard.

In the last few minutes Horsham sought a winner and top scorer Chris Smith had a half chance with a shot which went over the top.  Then a left wing cross by Harvey Sparks was turned wide of the right post by Newton.

The game entered four minutes of injury time and perhaps the last opportunity fell to Horsham when Bentley ball over the top found Newton who broke into the area but  fired wide and the game finished in a 1-1 draw which was probably about right on the balance of the match  and a game bristling with competitive spirit although never a dirty game despite the eight booking and two well matched sides gave it their all.

The teams now break for the FA Trophy on Saturday with Cray at Maldon & Tiptree while Horsham visit Haringey Borough.  The two sides meet again on the 1st February and on this evidence both sides could well be still in contention come that stage of the season.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele (Barney Williams, 68), Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Charlie Allen, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Phipp, Tom Murphy (Lee Lewis, 89), Andre Coker (Jerome Federico, 68), Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Karl Dent, Geofrey Okonkwo

Booked:  Murphy, Allen, Nelson, Pritchard

Horsham:       George Bentley, JJ O’Sullivan, Harvey Sparks, Alex Kelly, Joe Shelley, Dylan Merchant (Capt.), Rob O’Toole (Lee Harding, 74), Lea Dawson, Chris Smith (Harry Mills, 87), Charlie Harris (Jack Brivio, 82), Zack Newton

Booked:          Kelly, Dawson, O’Toole, Harris    

Referee:  Alex Mathieson     

Assistants:  Luke Chapman, Shawn Barclay  

Attendance – 481