With many thanks to Cray Wanderers fan and Non-League Chronicles Charlie Bradford for the two match reports
Cray Wanderers 0-3 FC United of Manchester
2022 Bulls Cup – Second Semi Final
Saturday 16th July 2022, 5.30 PM @ Springfield Stadium
After the excitement of the hosts taking on Hasthag United in the first semi final came the moment I had been waiting for – my local Cray Wanderers FC playing a game overseas! The game was against FC United of Manchester of the Northern Premier League Premier Division and an all step 3 matchup. I mean Jersey’s extremely nice but I was kind of hoping for a Cray Wanderers pre season tour game in the Maracana but I guess you can’t win them all…!
FC United had brought a fair few fans with them as evidenced by Jim McLean and I’s exploits on Friday night on our little late night pub crawl! Indeed FC United took approximately 700 fans to Rimini for a recent tournament (at least a team from Manchester can win trophies in Europe!) so goodness knows how many had followed them to Jersey for the weekend but a large number it is fair to say…!
FC United started the brighter of the two sides and after Tom Murray volleyed over from the edge of the box, they took the lead after 19 minutes when Max McCarthy brought down a ball over the top and kept his nerve one on one to find the back of the net.
Sam Wood was influential in Cray’s reply, firstly having a pile driver from 30 yards flash narrowly wide of the right hand post before producing a delicious cross from the left which Anthony Cook headed wide of the right hand post. Cook did the same again a minute later in Cray’s best chances of the half.
Cray started the second half the brighter of the two teams when Danny Bassett fired at FC United goalkeeper Lauercombe from the edge of the box before Billy Crook took aim and find the right side netting.
FC United however responded well and after Jack Anderson forced Cray goalkeeper Shaun Rowley into a good stop with his legs, they doubled their lead in the 60th minute when a lethal strike from the edge of the box by Max McCarthy flew into the top right hand corner.
After Anthony Cook and Billy Crook both had efforts on goal for Cray, they conceded a third in the 73rd minute when Regan Linney was played through on goal only for Shaun Rowley to come up with a smart stop for a corner, with that resultant corner headed home by Curtis James.
Despite their best efforts, Cray could not get themselves on the scoresheet and their closest opportunity came a minute from time when a cross from the right was headed against the crossbar by Anthony Adesite from point blank range.
MOTM: Max McCarthy (FC United of Manchester) for his brace.
Hashtag United 3-2 Cray Wanderers
Bulls Cup 2022 – Third Placed Playoff
Sunday 17th July 2022, 12 Noon @ Springfield Stadium
After a funny night out with the Cray boys and Jim McLean on the booze, it was time to wake my aching head and get back to Springfield Stadium to watch Cray Wanderers in the third placed playoff against Hashtag United in a step 3 versus step 4 matchup, hoping Cray would perform better than they did against FC United of Manchester the previous day.
On another hot afternoon, Hashtag took the lead after just six minutes when Joni Vukaj had a miss hit shot from the edge of the box which looped over Cray goalkeeper Jacob Russell and into the back of the net.
If that goal was a fluke then his and Hashtag’s second was certainly meant when a mis placed Cray header was pounced upon by Vukaj as he slotted the ball away, falling over the advertising hoardings in his celebration.
Cray Wanderers then did conjure up a couple of opportunities themselves when Chris Dickson hit the right side netting from a shot around 12 yards out before a rasping drive by Sam Wood finished over the top.
After Jacob Russell was forced into a magnificent save to deny Hashtag’s Toby Aromolaran, the former Love Island contestant made amends with a volley from the edge of the box which Russell got finger tips to but could not keep out.
With the scoreline as it was, the second half was understandably a little bit flat, with Hashtag conjuring up the best initial chances when Vukaj struck over the bar from close range before Jermaine Francis struck a free kick straight at Russell.
Cray finally got their first goal of the tournament four minutes from time when Chris Dickson was taken out by Hashtag substitute goalkeeper Carlos Simeon for a spot kick which Anthony Cook struck dow the middle – cue the relief!
It got even better for Cray when they pulled it back to 3-2 in the fourth minute of stoppage time when a terrific delivery from a wide free kick by Sam Wood was met by an equally impressive header by Chris Dickson.
It was too little to late however for the Wands but a top quality weekend regardless and that Saturday night will go down as one of the great nights with Cray!