Post Lockdown Friendly  –  Sat 5th December, 2020 @ Flamingo Park

Cray Wanderers            2          (Murrell-Williamson 34, Parker 47)

Basildon United            3

Cray Wanderers played their first game since October 31st at a cold but at times bright Flamingo Park as Basildon United were the visitors in an entertaining friendly match. Despite Cray twice taking the lead it was the Essex side who came back to win 3-2.

The Wands were looking to get into match practice ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Uxbridge in the FA Trophy and this was a decent test against a Basildon side who made it an enjoyable contest and decent fare for the supporters who perhaps had been yearning to watch live football again after the second lockdown.

Cray began the game well but it was Basildon who had the first half opening when the no 3 shot over the top from outside the box.

The Wands though began to fashion some chances and Joe Taylor held the ball up for Charlie Allen to break into the box down the left and his shot was deflected past the right post for a corner. From the corner, the ball was met by the head of Mitchell Nelson who was unlucky to see his shot cleared off the line and following up Freddie Parker’s effort was blocked by the keeper’s hand. 

Then from a free kick out on the right, Rhys Murrell-Williamson’s initial effort came back off the wall and back to the winger whose shot was spilled by the keeper and following up Parker saw his effort blocked from 7 yards.

For Basildon, a free kick down the left from the no 11 aimed to the far post was flicked fractionally wide by the no 2 of the right post.   Then the no 10 hit a well struck shot over from 20 yards.

A lively game played at a fast pace was just lacking a goal and arrived in the 34th minute for Cray when down the left, Jason Banton broke into the area and laid the ball across to the far post to Murrell-Williamson who fired home a near post shot under the keeper to make it 1-0.

Basildon though drew level four minutes later with a rather fortuitous goal as a ball into the area for the no 11 saw Lewis Carey attempting to clear collided with Mitchell Nelson and the ball went into the net off the defender.

Before half time Cray came close to retaking the lead when Banton set up Parker who turned well outside the area and was unlucky to see his shot just go past the right hand post.

Half Time: 1-1

Basildon made a few changes at half time and had more of a youthful look whilst Cray introduced Stefan Abatan for Nelson. 

Cray got off to a flyer in the second half and two minutes in retook the lead when from a short corner, Parker found Banton who managed to find space and found Parker who from 20 yards hit a cracking strike which went past the substitute keeper into the bottom left corner for a goal his performance deserved.

The Wands now had their tails up and a minute later almost scored a third when Parker played the ball through to Taylor down the right of the area who saw his dinked effort just go over the bar.  Then Murrell-Williamson saw a shot from distance parried by the keeper.

Basildon though showed good character and drew level in the 56th minute when the no 19 who looked lively when he came on turned just outside the area and fired in a sweet strike which nestled in the bottom right corner to make it 2-2.

Substitutes, Karl Dent, making his first appearance since last season, Jerome Federico, Lee Lewis, Ben Morgan and Roman Hall came on for the last half hour.  

The no 19 then shot over a couple of minutes later while at the other end substitute, Jerome Federico was found by Taylor down the right and his stinging drive was tipped over the bar well by the keeper.

Cray looked to score again and Dent shot over and then a ball out from the keeper was intercepted by Banton who set up Dent who curled wide of the right post.

The last twenty minutes though Basildon began to threaten and the no 18 down the right saw a shot from 25 yards down the right well held by Hall and then another similar stop a minute later.

In the 72nd minute Basildon took the lead when down the right a shot from the right was pushed out by Hall and the no 12 was on hand to turn the ball into the net.

The visitors played well in the closing stages and despite some good pressure late on, Cray couldn’t force an equaliser and Basildon held on to win.

There was some confusion in the final seconds when it appeared that Joe Taylor had been sent off for an altercation with a Basildon player but the final whistle went straight after and may have been more of a sin binning rather than a dismissal.

Despite the result it was a good game to watch and with the opportunities limited to FA Trophy games in the next few weeks it was great to see supporters again even though it seemed frightfully cold for a Saturday friendly game.

Cray:    Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Mitchell Nelson, Martin Onobaghbe, Tom Carlse, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Bradley Pritchard, Charlie Allen, Jason Banton, Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor: 2nd Half subs: Stefan Abatan, Roman Hall, Ben Morgan, Karl Dent, Jerome Federico