Bostik League South – 10/2/2018
Cray Wanderers 2
Power 43, Scott 45
Cray Wanderers returned to the top of the Bostik South after a hard fought and gritty victory at a wet, windy and soggy Ramsgate and in doing so end a three match run without a win.
After a tight first half of few chances at either end the game came alive before the break when two minutes before half time Cray took the lead when Junior Dadson’s deflected shot was parried by keeper Jordan Carey as far as the predatory Michael Power who rifled home the rebound for his 18th league goal of the season and his 97th career goal for Cray Wanderers.
Two minutes later with practically the last kick of the half Brandon Scott scored a well worked second goal after a left wing cross was deflected into his path down the right and showing good composure squeezed home a cross shot into the bottom left corner of the net.
Ramsgate though made a game of it second half and pulled a goal back through Rory Smith’s 15 league goal of the season eight minutes after half time.
The Wands then saw skipper Lea Dawson sent off just after the hour which left Cray with ten men for quite some time but Cray held off Ramsgate’s challenge to pick up a big three points.
From last Saturday’s game with East Grinstead Town Tony Russell was able to recall Barney Williams and Mitchell Nelson to the defence after suspension in place of Matt Parsons and Joe Vines. Karl Dent also started in place of Dean Carpenter as Cray looked to return to winning ways.
Ramsgate had gone eight games without a win since beating Lewes in December but are a good footballing side with a young, prolific front three and Cray would have to work very hard to pick up three points on a foul afternoon which only football diehards could enjoy.
The first half began at a fairly fast pace on a pretty decent looking pitch despite the overnight rain and it was Cray who fashioned the first real opening of the game when Junior Dadson down the left played the ball to the near post to Michael Power who turned and fired across a cross-shot which Jordan Carey who played a couple of games for Cray earlier in the season pushed away.
Ramsgate have three players Alfie Paxman, Rory Smith and Tom Chapman with over double figures for goals this season and from a corner down the left the ball came to Chapman whose shot was deflected through to Nick Blue. This was followed soon after by Billy Munday setting up Aaron Millbank for a shot from 25 yards which went wide of the left post.
For Cray, Dadson’s cross from the left into the area was nudged back towards goal Charlie Dickens and the ball was punched away by Carey before Branson Scott could get to the ball.
Then from a left wing corner, Dent’s cross was dropped by Carey but Dawson following up was adjudged to have fouled the keeper.
The game then became a bit of a war of attrition as chances became fewer although Ramsgate thought they had taken the lead when a decent cross from the left found Smith who put the ball into the net but had strayed maybe just a touch offside and the goal was ruled out. Then Smith made a good run down the left and his cross was put behind by Mitchell Nelson for a corner.
Cray saw bookings for Dent and Dawson within seconds of each other and then had a reasonable penalty shout when Michael Freiter put over a cross from the left which found Scott who ran into the box and looked like he may have been pushed off the ball by Dickens but nothing was given.
However two minutes before half time Cray went in front when Dadson picked the ball up just over the halfway line and made a strong run to the left edge of the area and his shot was slightly deflected off Jake MacKenzie which forced Carey to make a save but the loose ball was despatched emphatically by Power from five yards for his 18th league goal of the season.
The Wands had had to work hard to take the lead but with their tails up they scored a second in the last minute of the half. There was a little bit of fortune as Dadson’s ball across to Freiter was deflected off Liam Dickson to an unmarked Scott down the right who showed great balance and poise to work his way past two players to squeeze a shot into the net to cap off a perfect end to the half for Cray.
Half Time: 0-2
The rainy weather got worse at the start of the second half but Cray took a while to get into the game second half as Ramsgate came out full of fire and put the Wands under pressure. First a free kick was played into the box to Munday but his effort was blocked.
This was followed by Cray struggling to clear their lines and Smith set up Chapman for a shot which went just wide.
In the 53rd minute, Ramsgate pulled a goal back after a rare mistake by Nelson who lost possession just outside the area and Paxman down the left bore down on goal and perhaps unselfishly layed the ball across to Smith who powered home his shot to make it 2-1.
Now it was game on and Cray needed to get back their assurance they had in the first half and Williams cross found Dawson but his header went through to Carey.
On the hour Cray came close to a third goal when Freiter’s right wing corner to the far post found Dawson who met the ball with a firm header but steered the ball just wide.
In the 61st minute, Cray’s task got that bit harder when Dawson was sent off for a slightly risky tackle in midfield on Dickson and although not malicious had already been booked and dismissed.
From this point though, Cray played as well as they did with 11 as they managed to stem the Ramsgate surge and worked extremely hard especially Power and Dadson up the front who showed their experience to hold the ball up and work their way down the left to win throw ins and corners.
Dadson down the left did well to work his way into the area and found Scott whose effort was blocked. Then Power picked the ball up on the edge of the area, turned and fired just over the bar.
Going into the final ten minutes, Cray had a bit of a let off when Paxman made a run into the area and looked to have been shoved in the back and went down but was booked for diving.
Then with just a few minutes to go Ramsgate threatened when a free kick was played from deep into the area and Chapman got in a half volley towards the near post which Blue did very well to push behind for a corner. Joe Vines was sent on for the final six minutes to help stem what could have been an aerial onslaught from Ramsgate.
Cray almost wrapped up the game with a strong run from Dadson into the area and looked destined to score his first goal for Cray but was denied by a good save from Carey’s left foot.
The Wands used up the four minutes of stoppage time very well and came away with a win which ended their mini blip of three games without a win and did so having to work extremely hard.
There were solid performances but special mentions for Power and Dadson who were superb as was Barney Williams and Zak Henry and Dean Carpenter when they came on and helped fend off a lively Ramsgate side who look a promising team perhaps for next season if they can keep their forwards.
The Wands next take on 4th placed Carshalton Athletic who didn’t play today as their top of the table clash with Lewes was called off. Cray lead Lewes by one point at the top by the Rooks have two games in hand but one of those is against Carshalton. Corinthian Casuals who Cray play in March went third and are three points behind Cray but the Wands excellent goal difference of +52 almost gives them an extra point.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Michael Freiter (Dean Carpenter, 66), Karl Dent (Zak Henry, 53), Michael Power, Junior Dadson, Brandon Scott (Joe Vines, 84): Subs: Charlie MacDonald, Ralique Lawrence
Sent Off: Dawson 61
Booked: Dawson, Dent
Ramsgate: Jordan Carey, Jake MacKenzie, Charlie Dickens, Liam Dickson (Capt.), George Crimmen, Oliver Gray, Tom Chapman, Billy Munday, Aaron Millbank, Rory Smith, Alfie Paxman: Subs: Jacob Mensah, Jack Penny, Jordan Bartlett, Connor Hendricks, Luke Watkins
Referee: Matthew Goldsmith
Assistant Referees: Andrea Timpani, Richard Joss