Bostik League South – 4/11/17
South Park 0
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers moved up to fourth in the Bostik South League table and stretched their unbeaten record to 12 games with a deserved if closely fought encounter with South Park at King Georges Field.
Cray, in the second of four consecutive away matches struck the decisive moment of the game in the 13th minute when Michael Frieter was on the end of a Jerome Federico cross for his second goal of the season.
Cray had an element of control of the game and Mitchell Nelson saw a goal disallowed for a foul from another Federico cross. The Wands though did have an element of fortune in the 41st minute when South Park were awarded a penalty and Kieran Lavery hit the spot kick well over the bar. Cray had a couple of other chances to score and generally were tight at the back as in previous games and the home side who stayed in the game well didn’t really create a worthwhile chance.
Tony Russell was able to name an unchanged side to the one which beat Grays in the FA Trophy on Wednesday night and on a damp autumnal afternoon put in another strong display and maybe just couldn’t the extra goals to confirm their superiority.
Malcolm Porter’s South Park side began the game marginally the better and had the first shooting opportunities first through Nathan Ayling who fired well over the bar. Then Kieran Lavery on the edge of the area saw a low effort claimed by Nick Blue.
Then with Cray’s first serious attack they took the lead in the 13th minute when the ball was worked down the right to Federico who cut inside and put over a cross to the far post where Michael Frieter reacted quickest to head into the net from six yards past keeper Callum Thomas.
The pace and skill of Federico was one of the main features of the first half and gave Dean Lovegrove a difficult time and from a short free kick played again out on the right he put over another excellent cross to the far post which was met by Mitchell Nelson and the ball hit the back of the net but was disallowed for a slight push on a defender.
Then Nelson showed his defensive qualities at the other end with a good block inside the area to deny Chris Smith’s shot.
Also Frieter was having a good game and from a free kick out on the left he played a ball into the area which was cleared out as far as Barney Williams who drove a first time shot wide of the left post.
For South Park, Lavery set up Lovegrove for a shot which went over the top and then for Cray another fine delivery from a free kick from Frieter found Jay Leader who glanced a header wide of goal.
Cray then had a real let off four minutes before half time when South Park were awarded a penalty. Lovegrove swept a ball out to James McElligott out on the right and his ball into the box wasn’t’ sufficiently gathered by Blue and following up the loose ball, Lavery was brought down inside the area for a fairly obvious penalty award. After a fair wait to take the kick, Lavery normally so reliable from the spot perhaps slipped and sent his spot kick high over the bar.
The Wands almost grabbed a second before half time when from a thrown in down the left, the ball came to Michael Power who had a fine first half and turned two defenders and pulled a shot fractionally wide of the right post and Cray went in at half time one goal to the good.
Half Time: 0-1
The second half seemed to last an eternity if you were a Wands fan as Cray totally dominated the half but unlike at Grays couldn’t quite get a second goal to give them the comfort they needed.
They did come close to scoring a second when from a Frieter right wing corner, the ball to the far post found Jay Leader whose powerful header was well saved by the foot of Thomas.
Then a good cross down the right from Nelson was turned behind for a corner by Adam Pullin before Power could get to the ball.
This was followed by Zak Henry setting up Federico who made a good burst in from the right and fired in a shot which went straight into the arms of Thomas. Then another dangerous Federico cross was put behind for a corner.
The match was very quick paced but aside from a Jack Mazzone shot which was safely gathered by Blue chances for the home side were few and far between.
For Cray, Frieter hit a free kick from thirty yards which went wide of goal and then from a corner down the left, Brandon Scott’s ball across was flicked wide by a back header from Power.
The final shooting chance for Cray came from a free kick just outside the area to the left which Power curled over the wall but was safely gathered by Thomas who was by far the busier keeper in the second half.
South Park though did try to rally before the end and Mazonne hit a cross shot which was deflected behind for a corner in stoppage time. Cray were able to clear the corner and see out the game.
This was a particularly impressive win for Cray against a side that will more than likely feature in the playoff race throughout the season and had the hallmarks of a promotion winning side, tough durable win away from home in damp conditions and restricted the home side to few chances. Once again Jay Leader was in great form in defence and is a real threat from set pieces, Zak Henry continues to grow into a fine midfield player and shows great composure. Federico had a great game as did Frieter and Power whilst defensively the whole back four were assured.
Cray next travel to the south coast to take on Hastings United on Tuesday night looking to continue their good run and after today sit six points behind leaders Lewes and one behind Greenwich Borough and Corinthian Casuals on 30 points.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lea Dawson (Capt,), Zak Henry, Michael Frieter (Dean Carpenter, 78), Michael Power, Ralique Lawrence (Brandon Scott, 68), Jerome Federico: Subs: Freddie Parker, Karl Dent, Marcus Evans.
South Park: Callum Thomas, James McElligott, Dean Lovegrove, Adam Pullin, Luke Elliott (Dylan Merchant, 52), Jake Gill, Tom Windsor, Nathan Ayling (Jack Mazzone, 70) Kieran Lavery (Capt.), Chris Smith, Dan Moody: Subs: Ben Senior, Dan Stone
Referee: Mr. A. Bennett
Assistant Referees: Mr G Hodgkinson, Mr. S. Parkinson