Cray Wanderers vs AFC Wimbledon Academy – 18/7/21

Cray Wanderers               4              (Balarabe 36, 45 , 45+2, Allen 63)

AFC Wimbledon               2

Cray Wanderers continued their solid start to pre-season with victory against an AFC Wimbledon XI at Hayes Lane. On a blistering hot afternoon, there was a lot of good young talent in both sides on show as well as some wise heads in the Cray team and it made for an enjoyable encounter.

The star of the first half show for Cray was Sadik Balarabe who scored a hat-trick in just over ten minutes before half time to add to the goal he scored at Hollands & Blair in midweek. His first came on 36 minutes, turning in Jamie Yila’s cross and then after AFC Wimbledon had drawn level restored the lead on the stroke of half time and there was still time in the added on time for a water break to convert a penalty after Yila was brought down.  In the 63rd minute it was 4-1 for Cray when Danny Kedwell who had a half hour run out against one of his former clubs played a cross in from the left and Charlie Allen stole in to score. The Dons who finished the game strongly pulled a goal back from a direct free kick with twelve minutes to play.

The game began at a fluid pace but the heat of the afternoon meant both teams took it a bit steady in the first half hour or so with the game springing to life in the last ten minutes.

The Dons team were young and enthusiastic and won four corners in the opening few minutes but chances were few for the visitors. The first real shot of the game came to Cray in the 17th minute with Cameron Brodie firing wide from distance.  Then down the right of the area Jamie Yila worked an opening and his near post shot was blocked by a defender.

The deadlock was broken in the 36th minute and was well worked with Yila this time switching to the left breaking into the box with speed and laid the ball across where Sadik Balarabe was on hand to score clinically from 12 yards.                  

It was close to being 2-0 moments later when out of nothing Anthony Cook down the right found space and hit a crashing shot which thudded off the left post and back out into play.

A couple of minutes later in the 43rd minute, AFC Wimbledon levelled when the no 67, who had a fine game throughout broke through the centre of midfield and twenty five yards from goal hit a powerful shot which gave Jack Turner no chance to save in the Wands goal.

There was parity though for only a couple of minutes as on the stroke of half-time Cray went back in front this time after Brodie won a tackle and played the ball down the right of the area to Balarabe who smashed home a shot at the near post.

In added on time at the end of the half, Cray were given the opportunity to score again when Yila was upended in the area and Balarabe completed his hat-trick from the spot.

Half Time:  3-1

The second half was equally lively and straight away Anis Nuur showed his qualities as a sub on the left but cutting inside and hitting a swerving shot which the Dons keeper did well to turn behind for a corner.  From the corner , Nuur’s cross was glanced off target by Balarabe.

The game went from end to end for a spell and the no 67 again threatened with a shot which was held by Turner and then was presented with the ball and his shot was pushed away well by Turner.

On the hour, Cray made a few changes including Danny Kedwell coming on and within a couple of minutes had an assist to his name when out on the left whipped in a cross with a lot of bend which the keeper couldn’t get too and Charlie Allen was on hand to tap the ball into the net for perhaps three yards out.

 Cray continued to look threatening and Max Gayle combined with Nuur down the left and hit a shot wide of goal.  For AFC Wimbledon, the no 58 hit a stinging shot which Turner, another former Dons player pushed over the top.

On 78 minutes, AFC Wimbeldon pulled a goal back when the no 27 who had a fine game for the visitors from a direct free kick just outside the area fired in a shot which perhaps took a deflection and into the net for 4-2.

There were other chances to add to the scoresheet and a fine ball across from Abdul Saccoh down the left aimed to the far post was flicked over the top by Allen.  Then Kedwell found Nuur down the left and his shot was turned away by the keeper.  The last action saw the no 67 for Wimbledon work an opening but his shot crashed into the back of the Glyn Beverley Stand.

In the end though Cray Wanderers had done enough to win the game and this is still early days in pre-season and there will be plenty more football to be played before the big kick off on 14th August .       

Cray Wanderers:              Jack Turner, Harvey Brand, Dean Beckwith, Ejiro Okosieme, Trialist, Jamie Yila, Lee Lewis, Cameron Brodie, Andy Drury, Anthony Cook, Sadik Balarabe.  Subs: Anis Nuur , Charlie Allen, Danny Kedwell, Abdul Saccoh, Martin Onoabagbe , Max Gayle, Emmanuel Oduguwa

Referee:  First half: Ian Bentley:  Second Half: Val Anekwe

Assistant: Kennedy Kikulwe