Bostik League South – 23/12/2017
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers remain unbeaten in 16 league matches and stay second in the Bostik South table after a hard fought draw against Molesey at Walton Road.
Cray had the better of an entertaining first half and went ahead with Mitchell Nelson’s fourth goal of the season a minute before half time getting on the end of Michael Freiter’s left wing free kick.
The second half saw opportunities at both ends but Cray couldn’t put the game to bed and Molesey levelled two minutes from time when Ato Okai’s right wing corner was turned in by substitute Ronald Sobowale and despite late pressure from Cray the game finished in a 1-1 draw.
There were a few changes from the side beaten by Charlton in the Kent Senior Cup as several first team regulars were rested in that game and Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Lea Dawson, Michael Freiter, Michael Power and Brandon Scott returned with Aaron Rhule unavailable through injury. Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Mitchell Nelson and Jerome Federico kept their places from Wednesday.
It seemed unusual to see Cray play a game on grass and on quite a claggy pitch this was always going to be a tougher game than the league positions suggested.
Cray began well and in the first couple of minutes created a shooting opportunity when Brandon Scott down the right switched a ball out to the left to Jerome Federico who cut inside and hit a shot which home keeper Liam Allen got down to save.
The first big chance of the game though fell to Molesey when tricky Anthony Kozakis worked his way down the left and into the area and laid the ball back to Reis Stanislaus who steered his shot wide of goal much to Cray’s relief.
From a free kick way out on the right, Michael Freiter’s ball to the back of the penalty area was glanced off target by Jay Leader.
For Molesey, Ato Okai played the ball into Stansialus but Ben Mundele did hat to put the ball behind for a corner from which Craig Lewington’s ball into the area was claimed by Nick Blue. Then Kozakis out on the left swung a ball towards goal which hit the back of the crossbar.
Cray were a little unlucky not to score when Freiter played a ball through to Michael Power in the box whose shot was saved well by Allen but the flag had been raised for offside.
Then Cray were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area on the right after Dean Carpenter was brought down. From the free kick Freiter curled the ball round the wall but was claimed at the second attempt by Allen.
Molesey gave away quite a few free kicks first half and from another one conceded 30 yards out on the right Freiters ball into the box found Leader who gut under his header under pressure from a defender and the ball went wide.
The remainder of the first half saw Cray in control of the game but found Molesey hard to break down. Freiter down the right put a great ball into the box which was missed by Power and went across goal to Federico but his ball back into the area was deflected to Allen. Then great skill by Scott down the right saw a ball played to the near post which Allen had to palm away and Carpenter’s ball back into the area found Power whose headed went straight into the keepers hands.
Before half time Cray came closest yet when a fine ball out from the back by Nelson found Federico down the left who ran towards goal and as Allen came out took the ball past the keeper but the angle was very awkward and his shot towards goal was put behind by Ryan David for a corner.
From the corner, Freiter’s ball to the near post was deflected across goal and behind for another corner by Lewington under pressure from Nelson. This time from the right the ball to the back post found Nelson whose header was blocked by Allen and following up Nelson’s shot was blocked by Dre Grobler.
A goal was coming for Cray and it did so just as the half entered its final minute. From a free kick way out on the left Freiter’s ball into the box was excellent and Nelson timed his run perfectly to steal in and turn the ball into the net for a lead that Cray had deserved for their persistence and patience.
Half Time: 0-1
The second half began the way the first ended with Cray threatening from a set play. Again Freiter’s delivery this time out on the right was perfect to the head of Nelson who rose to play the ball to Power who turned his shot just wide of the left post.
A second goal then would have given Cray a nice cushion for the rest of the half but Molesey were still in the game and nearly levelled when Ashby Charles made a good run forward down the left and played the ball through to Kozakis who seemed certain to score but was denied by a great block by Blue and behind for a corner.
The game was becoming more open and Cray were unlucky when Scott made a great run from out on the right and to the edge of the area and his shot was pushed round the post by Allen.
Molesey came close with twenty minutes of the second half gone when Okai who was coming more and more into the game burst forward down the right into the area and laid the ball across to Kozakis who guided the ball towards goal but Lea Dawson cleared the ball off the line.
For Cray Federico curled a shot just wide of the right post from inside the area. Then with twenty minutes to go Zak Henry won the ball to set up Carpenter who hit a shot from 25 yards which went just over the top of the crossbar and at first view looked like Allen had fingertipped it over.
Molesey substitute Ronald Sobowale was a handful when he came on and almost scored straightaway when inside the area he was about to shoot but was denied by a fine block by Leader.
With the game heading for the last few minutes Cray still led but hadn’t been able to get the second goal needed and from a free kick 25 yards out, Power hit a shot just wide. Then Barney Williams who had a great game down the left fired over the bar.
Then with a couple of minutes left Molesey won a corner down the right. Okai who put over a couple of good corners, did so again with a ball across the area and Sobowale found space to turn the ball over the line and to make it level once again.
Cray who before that goal had started to look lethargic went back on the attack again in an attempt to regain the lead. From a free kick lofted in by Nelson the ball came to Dawson but was unlucky to see his header go over the bar. Then Dawson flicked a ball in to Power who hooked an effort wide on the volley and just before the final whistle Power got on the end of a flick on from Dawson and Leader to steer a header wide of goal as Allen came out to challenge.
In the end the game finished in a 1-1 draw which is some ways felt like two points dropped as Cray had the lead and a fair level of control of the game in the first half. The second half were not able to get the second goal to give them daylight and Molesey were always in the game and for their stickability and commitment perhaps warranted a draw at the end of the day.
Cray stay in second place in the very tight race at the top level on 48 points with Corinthian Casuals and Carshalton Athletic and three behind Lewes with one game in hand. Cray are next in Festive action on Boxing Day when they face Shoreham at Hayes Lane for the very first time.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Dean Carpenter, Michael Freiter (Zak Henry, 69), Michael Power, Jerome Federico, Brandon Scott (Ralique Lawrence, 86): Subs: Freddie Parker, Marcus Evans, Joe Vines
Molesey: Liam Allen, Ryan David, Ashby Charles, Craig Lewington (Capt.), Antonio Simeone, Taylor Roles, Josh Andrew, Dre Grobler (Ross Chalke, 61), Reis Stanislaus (Ronald Sobowale, 72), Anthony Kozakis (Tayo Oyebola, 83), Ato Okai: Subs: Jordan Smith
Referee: John Pike
Assistant Referees: Andrew Connor, John Brown