Lewes vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 12th August – Match Report
Photos: Ozay Booth
Cray Wanderers 0
Cray Wanderers opened the 2023-24 Isthmian Premier season with defeat at Lewes as Chris Whelpdale’s goal on the half hour proved decisive in a game where both goalkeepers made good saves.
Opening day wins have been rare for Cray in recent seasons and for the trip to Sussex manager Neil Smith gave Wands league debuts to Archy Taylor, Mason Saunders-Henry, Cameron Black and Jack Holland with George Porter and Frankie Raymond missing through suspension. Lewes were a new look side and there were 10 new players in their starting lineup from last season.
In a match which perhaps didn’t reach any great heights Cray started the game brightly and Yahya Bamba’s left wing cross was punched away well by Rooks’ keeper Nathan Harvey and were knocking the ball around well. Sam Wood saw a free kick hit the defensive wall but didn’t really create a telling chance in this spell.
Lewes looked just that more threatening and Chris Whelpdale saw a shot blocked and following a throw-in, lively left winger Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala cut inside and saw a shot deflected past the right post for a corner.
Then Lumbombo-Kalala cut to the left by line and his ball across was turned behind by Shaun Rowley for a corner.
Out of nothing though Cray almost went in front after great control from Mason Saunders-Henry from a ball out from the back saw him almost catch Harvey out with a shot which hit the crossbar from twenty yards. For Lewes, Jake Elliott’s cross was glanced wide of the right post by Arthur Penney.
The decisive moment of the game came in the 30th minute when Kieran Murtagh found Tommy Wood down the right and he lifted the ball over Rowley into the six yard box for ex-Gillingham midfielder Whelpdale to score.
Before half time, the game picked up a little bit of pace and Bamba’s cross from the right was well claimed by Harvey under pressure from Tom Derry. Then Bamba found a bit of space down the right of the area but drove his shot into the side netting.
Right on half time Lumbombo-Kalala hit a sweetly struck shot which was well pushed out by Rowley with the last action of the half.
The second half saw Lewes come out the more threatening and had a positive first fifteen minutes to the half with Elliott’s cross from the right falling to Whelpdale but Rowley did well to make a reflex save.
Then from a free kick from Harvey Hughes the ball came to Tommy Wood whose low shot was turned aside by Rowley.
Anthony Cook was introduced into the fray before the hour and made an impact with a run from the left and saw his shot smothered by Harvey.
Lewes though remained the more potent side and came close to making it 2-0 with Elliott forcing Rowley to parry his cross and came to Ryan Gondoh whose shot was cleared almost off the line and Lumbombo-Kalala fired wide from the rebound.
Cray had their best spell of the half in the last twenty minutes and from a corner down the right from Sam Wood played towards the far post the ball came to Saunders-Henry whose effort was deflected over. Then Cook and Nyren Clunis saw efforts blocked.
Then from a free kick from Wood down the left the cross was superb to the far post and substitute Cameron Thompson was unlucky to his stabbed shot turned away superbly by Harvey in perhaps Cray’s best chance of the game. This was followed by a corner from Wood being flicked wide by Jack Holland.
Both teams were resolute at the back and especially for the home side and repelled this Cray spell and before the end Lumbombo-Kalala shot wide and Whelpdale headed wide from a Gondoh cross.
The last half chance for Cray fell to Wood who fired well over from distance and in the end it just looked like being one of those days and Lewes held on to win which over the ninety minutes was about right on chances created.
However in this league games come thick and fast and the Wands face Horsham at Hayes Lane on Wednesday in a match traditionally a high scoring affair.
Nathan Harvey, Jake Elliott, Harvey Hughes, Ronnie Vint, Arthur Penney, Alfie Egan, Keiran Murtagh (Archie Tamplin, 75), Tommy Wood, Ryan Gondoh (Will Salmon, 90), Chris Whelpdale, Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala
Booked: Murtagh 23, Tamplin 78
Shaun Rowley, Archy Taylor, Cameron Black, Jack Holland, Jamie Mascoll, Sam Wood,
David Ijaha (Anthony Cook, 57), Mason Saunders-Henry (Rio Campbell, 76), Nyren Clunis, Tom Derry (Cameron Thompson, 70), Yahya Bamba:
Subs: Reggie Rye, Tom Penfold
Booked: Derry 40, Black 41, Mascoll 63
Referee: Steven Goldup
Assistants: Harry Wood, Richard Joffile