Merstham vs. Cray Wanderers – BetVictor Isthmian Premier – Tuesday 15th October, 2019  

Merstham                                                      1

Monga 4

Cray Wanderers                                            2

Taylor 18, Pritchard 57

Pics kindly provided by Jon Hilliger

Cray Wanderers returned to winning ways after two consecutive defeats with a strong and determined display to come from behind to win at Merstham and at the same time remain unbeaten away from home in the Isthmian Premier.

Cray who had lost to Haringey Borough in the FA Cup and then on Saturday were beaten in an eight goal thriller to Enfield Town got off to a bad start at the Whisky Bible Stadium when Yannick Monga took advantage of a swift breakaway to give Merstham the lead after just four minutes.   Cray though were looking dangerous going forward and drew level on 18 minutes when Joe Taylor crashed home his 14th goal of the season turning the ball home from Karl Dent’s cross.

The second half was more of a scrappier affair but Cray began the half on the front foot and went in front in the 57th minute when Bradley Pritchard found space from Taylor’s pass inside the area and coolly slotted home his second goal of the season.  From here Cray were able to soak up any Merstham pressure and could have grabbed a third goal to make things a bit more easier but hung on to move up to ninth place in the league table.

Despite the 3-5 defeat to Enfield Town on Saturday Cray played extremely well and on another day and a bit more luck could have salvaged something from the game.  From that side there was two changes to the starting lineup with Barney Williams returning from suspension in place of Tom Phipp while Karl Dent came in for Jerome Federico.  Merstham were looking to end a run of three successive league defeats and on a damp but fairly mild night the scene was set for another entertaining game.

The match got off to a blistering start and Cray began well but in the fourth minute and with their first attack Merstham took the lead.  From a Cray attack, Merstham broke out and top scorer Omar Folkes broke down the right and his ball across was flicked out by Ellis Brown to the back post where Yannick Monga pounced to drive home a well struck shot past Lewis Carey.

Cray looked to hit back straight away and Tom Carlse lashed a shot well wide and then Ben Mundele inside the area saw a shot blocked.

The first real Wands chance came in the 12th minute when Bradley Pritchard played in Mundele down the right of the area but was denied by an excellent save from Matte Pierson who blocked the ball with his chest and the ball went behind for a corner.

Shortly after, Folkes when found by the very quick Brown curled a shot over as the game was going from end to end.  Then from a free kick 20 yards from goal, Dent’s shot was deflected behind for a corner from which Mitchell Nelson’s header was claimed by Pierson.

Merstham came close to going two nil up when from a free kick 25 yards from goal, ex-Cray Wanderers full back Peter Wedgeworth stepped up to rifle in a shot which Carey did superbly to push the ball over for a corner.  From the corner the ball came to Monga inside the area but Carey parried the ball on the line.  Finally in a good spell of Merstham pressure Folkes inside the area turned and shot which was claimed by Carey.

Cray were able to weather that storm and in the 18th minute drew level when the ball was worked down the right and Dent who had begun in impressive fashion broke into the area and squared the ball across to Joe Taylor who made no mistake from 12 yards for his 14th goal of the season.

After that electric start to the match, the game perhaps settled down for the remainder of the half but there were one or two opportunities for both teams.

Firstly for Merstham, Frankie Hession-Harris made a run forward and saw his shot held by Carey.  Then at the other end Cray were unlucky when Taylor found Andre Coker down the left who played in Pritchard who looked to have taken the ball round the advancing Pierson but squared the ball across and no-one could get on the end of the cross.

Then for Merstham, Folkes inside the area swung to connect with a cross but Carey was able to gather the shot.

From here Cray perhaps dominated the remainder of the half.  Firstly Taylor curled a shot over from Mundele’s pass and then Coker saw a shot deflected through to Pierson. This was followed from a right wing corner, Dent’s ball to the far post was volleyed over by Charlie Allen.

In the last action of the first half, Wedgeworth saw a free kick down the left driven across goal and no-one could apply a touch.  Then, Barney Williams played Dent into the box but his near post shot lacked power and was safely gathered by Pierson.

Half Time:  1-1

Where the first half was for the most part action packed, the second was perhaps more of attritional affair with Cray having the better of the match and a semblance of control.

Cray came close to taking the lead early on when Jay Leader who had an excellent game at the back alongside the always imperious Nelson found Williams down the right who played in Taylor who drove in a shot at the near post which was pushed behind well by Pierson.

Merstham’ best opportunity perhaps of the second half came when down the right, Brown combined with Monga to play the ball across to Wedgeworth up from the back who fired over.

It was looking like the next goal would be key to deciding the game and in the 57th minute Cray took the lead when down the right Taylor did well to win the ball and play in a fine pass to Pritchard who found space to trap the ball and fire past Pierson for a superb and calm piece of finishing.

Cray looked to add a third and Coker won a corner down the left from which Dent’s cross was nodded over by Leader.

From here Cray began to get a hold of the game and although Merstham applied pressure and had possession the defence held strong and Carey was well protected for the most part.  The Wands cleverly were able to manage the last fifteen minutes and Tom Murphy and Lee Lewis were introduced from the bench to add freshness and Cray solidly with Allen, Pritchard and Taylor working hard to win the ball and could take the sting out of the game.

There was one possible bit of late drama when Merstham won a free kick in a decent position one the edge of the area but Wedgeworth blazed his shot over the bar and Cray could see out the game to pick up an excellent three points.

This was a win similar to many from last season with great spells of Cray attacking coupled with stout and strong defending and in the end the three points were well deserved but Merstham have a lot of pace and quality in their side and Frank Wilson’s side should have enough not to get back to winning ways soon.

Cray next head to bogey side Lewes on Saturday looking to win against the Rooks in the league for the first time but can go into the match with confidence.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Charlie Allen, Bradley Pritchard, Karl Dent (Lee Lewis, 82), Ben Mundele (Tom Murphy, 77), Andre Coker, Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Jerome Federico, Freddie Parker, Geofrey Okonkwo


Booked:          Dent, Pritchard


Merstham:     Matte Pierson, Liam Smith (Chris Madu, 66), Peter Wedgeworth (Capt.), EJ Mensah, Sinn’Kaye Christie, James Richmond, Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis (Great Evans, 74), Frankie Hession-Harris, Omar Folkes, Ellis Brown (Marco Sousa-Pina, 79), Yannick Monga: Subs: Vincent Follea, Matt Rapson


Booked:          Mensah, Ten-Grotenhuis, Sousa-Pina



Referee:  Gerry Heron           

Assistants:  Andrew Senior, Nick Blogg


Attendance – 147