Sevenoaks Town v Cray Wanderers Match Report – Bostik League South-East – Saturday 29th December, 2018
Sevenoaks Town 0
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers brought their 2018 to a winning end as an 88th minute winner from Freddie Parker settled a tough contest with Sevenoaks Town at Greatness Park. The win means Cray have an 11 point lead at the top of the Bostik South-East going into 2019.
Cray had most of the possession and chances in the first half with Jerome Federico seeing a shot tipped onto the crossbar and Jay Leader and Tom Phipp came close with headers. However the best chance of the half came to Sevenoaks when they were awarded a penalty five minutes before half time but Nick Blue did brilliantly to push aside Luke Coleman’s spot kick. The second half was more of a slog and Sevenoaks were very resolute but Cray kept on going and after Mitchell Nelson’s header was pushed out by Ben Bridle-Card, substitute Freddie Parker followed up to steer the ball home and settle the game in the Wands favour.
Cray were looking to build on Sunday’s victory against Sittingbourne while Sevenoaks were by all accounts unlucky to lose to Hastings United on Boxing Day. From the side which started against Sittingbourne, into the side came Aaron Rhule for his first start since September for the injured Junior Dadson and Tom Phipp returned from suspension in place of Sean Roberts. Also a newcomer to the side was Daniel Uchechi, signed on Saturday morning from Hampton & Richmond Borough who started on the bench while Archie Johnson was ruled out by injury.
On a rather grey but thankfully dry afternoon in the lovely scenic setting of Greatness Park, Cray began the game in slick fashion with Jerome Federico to the fore and from Joe Taylor’s lay off made his way down the right and put over a good cross which was headed away by Sam Crabb under pressure from Aaron Rhule.
The Wands had the first shot on goal after seven minutes when following a free kick 25 yards from goal, Karl Dent’s shot hit the wall and following up, Bradley Pritchard found Ben Mundele whose shot from 20 yards was gathered by former Wands keeper Ben Bridle-Card. Three minutes later Cray came closest yet when Dent’s left wing corner was well delivered towards the far post and was headed wide by Jay Leader from five yards.
Sevenoaks Town were neat and tidy in possession and posed a threat of their own and from a free kick out on the right, Ryan Fowler’s ball into the area was headed out by Mitchell Nelson and following up Oliver Bennett drove a shot wide of the left post.
On 18 minutes Cray were unlucky not to take the lead when after a strong run forward from Mundele he found Federico who took on Josh Dorling and cut into the area and from twelve yards saw a shot tipped over by Bridle-Card onto the crossbar and over for a corner.
Sevenoaks were presented with a free kick opportunity in a decent position centrally 20 yards from goal and Luke Coleman curled the ball around the wall and just wide of the right post while for Cray a Dent free kick out on the right into the area was palmed behind by Bridle-Card.
From that corner, Sevenoaks had a positive breakaway and William Johnson-Cole switched the ball from the left out to the right to Alec Fiddes whose ball across found Coleman who saw his effort deflected behind by a Cray defender for a corner.
On 33 minutes Cray came close to scoring again when Federico played the ball into the area to Dent who held the ball up well and from the edge of the six yard box played the ball across and Taylor just couldn’t turn the ball into the net. Then a few minutes later Taylor tested Bridle-Card with a shot from the edge of the area which the keeper did well to claim at the second attempt,
The home side looked like they had been presented with a great opportunity to take the lead five minutes before half time when after a move down the right the ball came to Bennett who was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area by Leader for the award of a penalty kick. From the spot, Coleman stepped up and his shot was well hit but diving to the left Blue did excellently to push the ball away.
Before half time Cray almost went ahead when first Taylor’s shot was deflected behind for a corner from which Dent’s right wing cross was headed wide by the impressive Phipp but at the break despite a lot of positive play from both sides the scoreline was blank.
Half Time: 0-0
The second half began with the Wands again on top but was perhaps more of a scrappier affair than the first. The best early half chance came with another jinking run down the right from Federico and his ball across was floating towards the far post but just drifted away before Rhule could get on the end of it.
Shortly after Rhule was replaced by debutant Daniel Uchechi who looked very lively on his introduction to the game and early on set up Dent for a shot which went over the top.
Sevenoaks were defending very stoutly and were not giving much away at the back but going forward Blue had to be very alert to come and claim the ball from Johnson-Cole. Then Fiddes found Coleman who fired a shot over the bar.
Cray threatened again from a free kick 30 yards out on the right from which Dent’s ball into the box was glanced wide of the left post by Leader. This was followed by Taylor setting up Dent whose shot from outside the box was safely claimed by Bridle-Card.
Sevenoaks were still holding firm but the pressure from Cray was beginning to increase going into the final stages and from another fine Dent corner kick from the left, the ball was headed over from five yards by Nelson.
Freddie Parker was introduced to the fray for the final ten minutes for the hardworking Taylor but it looked like the game was beginning to look like a goalless draw although Sevenoaks were looking a little out on their feet.
It looked like it wasn’t going to be Cray’s day when from a left wing corner from Pritchard with four minutes to go the ball was headed wide of the right post by the unlucky Leader.
However Cray kept on going and after an award of a free kick thirty yards from goal two minutes from time, the ball was worked down the right and Federico who had a quieter second half produced one more piece of magic and swung over a cross which was met emphatically by the head of Nelson which was saved well by the diving Bridle-Card pushing the ball away, Nelson helped the ball on and Parker from the edge of the six yard box placed the ball into the bottom left corner of the net and to break the deadlock.
With three minutes of injury time Cray were able to see out the remaining minutes and a big three points to make it eight wins out of nine on the road this season. Sevenoaks had worked extremely hard and are a tough side to break down as Hastings found out on Boxing Day and Mickey Collins’ side look to have enough about them to be safe this season but Cray are a durable side who keep on going and no-one could deny that Cray had shaded the game particularly second half.
Cray are next in action on Sunday 6th January against one of the in-form sides of the Bostik South-East, Three Bridges who like Sevenoaks were promoted last season and will be another good test of Tony Russell’s side who have bounced back well from the defeat at Horsham a fortnight ago and look ahead to the New Year celebrations in fine fettle.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Phipp, Karl Dent (Sean Roberts, 84), Joe Taylor (Freddie Parker, 80), Aaron Rhule (Daniel Uchechi, 56), Jerome Federico: Subs: Malik Solebo, Marcus Evans
Sevenoaks Town: Ben Bridle-Card, Sam Crabb, Josh Durling, Ryan Fowler, Jack Miles (Mikey Dalton, 84), Thomas Ripley, William Johnson-Cole, Alec Fiddes, Luke Coleman (Sidney Sollis, 73), Oliver Bennett, Ainsley Everett (Frankie Sawyer, 62): Subs: Kenny Pogue, Osman Proni
Booked: Fiddes, Sollis
Referee: Joseph Stokes
Assistants: Simon Cutler, Joseph McKay