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Margate vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian League Premier – Wednesday 1st January, 2020  

Margate                                                        3

Daniel 49, 81 (p), Leighton 62

Cray Wanderers                                            4

Taylor 30, 48, Lewis 68, Mundele 80

Cray Wanderers began 2020 by returning to winning ways after a seven goal thriller on a murky afternoon at Margate to move back up to 6th and end a three game losing run.

Cray were looking to start on the front foot and had the better of the first half and deservedly led on the half hour when Joe Taylor netted against his former club by following up a blocked shot on the line.  The second half was non-stop action and three minutes after the break Taylor notched his second of the game turning in Joel Rollinson’s cross.  Margate though staged a spirited fightback and within a minute, Kadell Daniel broke through to pull a goal back.  Then in the 62nd minute, Jack Richards’s corner kick was headed in by Noel Leighton.

Cray though regrouped and on 68 minutes restored the lead with a superb 25 yard strike from Lee Lewis.  Ten minutes from time, Cray took a two goal lead once again as Ben Mundele down the right broke through and drove a shot into the net for his first goal of the season.  Once again though straight away Margate fought back when Daniel converted a penalty but Cray managed to see out the remaining minutes to claim the points.

The Wands were rather unfortunate to lose at home to Leatherhead on Boxing Day and from the side which started the game, there was the welcome return of Tom Phipp for the first time since early November while Mitchell Nelson also returned following illness and Tom Murphy started in place of Jerome Federico, Karl Dent. and Geofrey Okonkwo.  Margate had also been without a win since December 7th so it looked like two teams a little short of confidence but both did well to serve up an early 2020 cracker.

Cray began the game in a very positive manner, passing the ball around well and looking incisive and had the first half opening when Lee Lewis and Tom Murphy combining to set up Joe Taylor and keeper Joe Tupper saved with his legs but the linesman’s flag was raised and wouldn’t have counted.  Then from a corner down the left, the ball came out to Joel Rollinson whose driven cross-shot was deflected behind for another corner.

Margate looked to get things going and Jay Porter’s sent a left wing cross across the area which no-one could get on the end of.  Cray continued to look good going forward and following another corner, the ball eventually came out to Lee Lewis who shot over the top.

The first real near miss came for Cray when from a free kick out on the right, Bradley Pritchard’s ball towards the near post was glanced fractionally wide of the left post by the head of Phipp.  Cray now had their tails up and Lewis shot wide from just outside the area and then Phipp shot over from 30 yards.  Then down the right, Rollinson hit a shot which went into the arms of Tupper.

A goal for Cray was looking like it was coming and it arrived on the half hour after a very patient passing build up from Cray which must have included 14-15 passes.  The ball was switched from right to left and Charlie Allen did well to slip a pass through to Pritchard down the left of the area and his ball across to the far post was perfectly placed for Taylor whose initial shot was blocked on the line by Porter but following up Taylor lashed home from five yards for his 25th goal of the season.

Following the goal a shot from Lewis was held by Tupper but Margate then had their best spell of the half.  Firstly Adel Ramadan set up Kieran Monlouis down the right of the area and his shot was deflected behind for a corner. Then, perhaps Margate’s best chance of the half, again Ramadan set up Monlouis down the right who just pulled his shot wide of the left post.

Before the break, Rollinson down the right of the area hit a well struck shot which was held by a diving Tupper but Cray had played very well in the first half and deserved their lead at half time.

H/T:  0-1

The first half was entertaining but merely a starter for the main course of a dramatic second half.  With Tom Phipp feeling his way back into action, he was replaced at half time by Karl Dent.  The half started in blistering fashion and for Margate Monlouis tested Carey with a shot from 20 yards.

However, on 48 minutes Cray grabbed a second goal when down the right a superb, hard to defend against cross towards the far post was jabbed in from about three via a deflection over the line by Taylor and Cray led 2-0.

A minute later, though Margate got themselves back into the game when the tricky and skilful Kadell Daniel made a strong run forward and into the box and he drove a well hit shot past Carey and it was game on once again.

The game now became end to end with Rollinson shooting over the bar for Cray while at the other end Margate claimed a penalty in the area when Leighton went down but a free kick was given on the edge of the area,

In the 62nd minute, Margate drew level when they won a corner down the left and Jack Richards’ cross into the heart of the area was powered home by Leighton and it was now 2-2 and breathless action.

Margate now had their tails up and looked to impose some pressure of their own and Tommy Lamb set up Richards whose ball into the box was well claimed under pressure by Carey.

Cray though were able to regroup and on 68 minutes retook the lead after another good spell of passing down the left and Taylor and Murphy combined to set up Lewis who from 25 yards hit a crackerjack of a shot high into the top left corner of the net.

Margate almost hit back again straight away and Leighton inside the area saw his shot blocked by Mitchell Nelson and the ball came out to Daniel who turned the ball wide.  Then at the other end, from a free kick played short down the right Pritchard’s ball into the area was headed over by Jay Leader.

Cray were just beginning to quell the Margate fire and another good passing move down the right saw the ball come to Murphy who hit a stinging shot which was turned away superbly by the hands of Tupper.

Then in the 80th minute, Cray had daylight once again when Mundele broke down the right, into the area and showed great composure to fire under Tupper and make it 4-2 and a goal he has deserved since his return to the club,

Margate to their credit didn’t throw the towel in and a minute later were awarded something of a soft penalty when Lewis was adjudged to have fouled Richards inside the box but the initial contact looked to be outside the area.  From the spot, Daniel scored his second of the game and set up a grandstand finish.

Cray looked to end the game and Taylor set up Pritchard whose drive was held by Tupper but Margate did threaten to tie the game again but despite one or two corners and a couple of defensive clearances Cray were able to hang on and pick up a big three points for Tony Russell’s side and complete a league double over Margate.

This game was a credit to the Isthmian Premier and surely a great match for neutrals the Wands started the New Year and decade with a big and deserved three points. The Wands move up to 6th on 37 points and a point off the playoff places. Cray are next in action on Saturday at home to Wingate & Finchley, 3pm.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Charlie Allen, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Tom Phipp (Karl Dent, H/T), Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Murphy (Geofrey Okonkwo, 89), Joel Rollinson, Joe Taylor: Subs: Jerome Federico, Stefan Abatan, Joe Vines.

 Margate:        Joe Tupper, Chris Sessegnon, Jay Porter (Capt.), Jordy Robins (Tommy Lamb, 63), Dan Johnson, Liam Friend, Jack Richards, Kieran Monlouis, Noel Leighton, Kadell Daniel, Adem Ramadan (Roman Campbell, 58): Subs: Michael Abnett, Nathan Geddes, Craig Holloway.  

 Referee:          Lee Dyson

Assistants:     Piotr Zachwieja, Daniel Doyle

 Attendance – 367