Bostik League South – 21/4/18
Walton Casuals 5
Josh Kelly 4, 12, 14, 83, Bamba 18
Cray Wanderers 2
Freiter 3, Dawson 8
Cray Wanderers final away league game of the Bostik South season ended in defeat as Walton Casuals put an end to Cray’s seven game unbeaten run after a devastating opening 20 minutes which saw six goals and a hat-trick for Josh Kelly. Cray Wanderers who finished the game with ten men drop one place down to fourth in the table whilst Walton who were seventh at the start of play moved back into the top 6 with the win.
After a quite remarkable opening to the game Cray led twice in the first eight minutes, taking the lead after 3 minutes when Michael Freiter tapped in from Ben Mundele’s cross. The lead lasted barely a minute when Kelly scored his first with a clinical strike before Lea Dawson put Cray back in front touching in Aaron Rhule’s free kick.
Walton got back into it again after 12 minutes after a hotly disputed penalty from Harry Mills was very well saved by Nick Blue but following up Kelly made it 2-2. Two minutes later, Walton scored again through Kelly and after 18 minutes it was 4-2 when Youssef Bamba crashed home a shot before the game quietened down.
The second half saw Cray attempt a comeback and Charlie MacDonald was unlucky to see his fine shot come back off the underside of the crossbar but eight minutes from time, Kelly scored his fourth of the game with a clever volley. The Wands hopes were further dashed when Mitchell Nelson was sent off for violent conduct four minutes from time.
There were two changes to Tony Russell’s side which won 8-0 against South Park last Saturday with Barney Williams out with injury so Zak Henry came in and Junior Dadson started in place of Brandon Scott.
Walton who beat Cray 5-1 when the two sides met in January 2017 are a very pacey side but it was Cray who began the quicker here taking the lead after just three minutes. Some great play down the right by Ben Mundele saw a driven cross to the near post diverted into the net by Michael Freiter from six yards and the game was set up to be a classic.
A minute later Walton levelled when Cray got unusually sloppy and down the right, Josh Kelly broke through to drive home a curling shot which gave Nick Blue no chance to save.
Four minutes later, Cray were back in front when from a free kick close to the left touchline, Freiter put a super ball across to the near post which was left by Charlie MacDonald and Lea Dawson was on hand to score for the second straight game.
Cray almost scored again straight after when MacDonald got away down the right and his ball across just missed the onrushing Freiter and the ball went across goal.
The whirlwind start to the game continued as in the 12th minute Walton had a chance to level after a very soft penalty award after Youssef Bamba was adjudged to have been barged over in the penalty area by Zak Henry. The penalty kick was taken by Harry Mills whose saw his effort brilliantly pushed out by Blue but Kelly showing good predatory instincts was first to react and fired home the rebound.
In the 14th minute and with barely time to draw breath, Walton went in front for the first time as Dominic Ogun made a run down the left and his ball across was despatched first time by Kelly for a very early hat-trick.
Then for Cray Junior Dadson tested Denzel Gerrar with a shot from the right but Cray were in a bit of state of disarray and in the 18th minute, Walton scored a fourth goal worked down the left by Tyrell Richardson-Brown and his cross was crashed home by Bamba who scored twice when the two sides met at Hayes Lane in January.
Cray really needed to batten down the hatches as this stage and Brandon Scott came on for Kyron Farrell who was filling at left back and Mundele moved across with Dadson at right back and this did help stem the tide somewhat although it should really have been 5-2 when Sonny Black’s cross was fired over by Lartey Sarpong from close range.
The Wands looked to get back into it and Freiter fired just over the bar from a free kick twenty five yards from goal and then from another free kick the ball came to MacDonald down the left byline and his effort came back off the left post.
Before the break Sarpong shot wide and Black did also as the game steadied a little but the Wands went in at halftime two goals behind.
Half Time: 4-2
The interval saw Karl Dent introduced into the game in place of Freiter and Walton began well once again when Kelly got away down the right and saw his effort well saved by Blue.
Cray threatened when Dent down the right found MacDonald just outside the area and his effort was well held by Gerrar.
Then out of nothing, MacDonald picked up the ball down the left, cut inside and from the edge of the penalty area cracked a shot which hit the underside of the bar and out into play and following up Scott couldn’t get a connection and Gerrar picked up the ball.
Chances were still being created by Walton and down the left the ball came to Sarpong who once again shot over from close range.
Cray were unlucky again when from a Dent corner down the right the ball to the far post was met by the head of Dawson who was playing with an arm injury but Gerrar managed to get down well to push the ball away. Then Rhule put over a cross from the left to the near post but Max Hustwick who had a good game for the hosts got to the ball just before MacDonald to put the ball behind for a corner.
The Wands kept going without having much luck in front of goal. A free kick from Dent out on the left was put into the box and MacDonald just couldn’t get to the ball. Then a good run from the back by Dadson who was set up Scott hit a shot which Gerrar had to get down to save.
Perhaps Cray’s last opportunity came with ten minutes to go when Mundele set up Rhule down the left and just pulled his shot across goal. Walton returned to the attack and Black and Alex Kelly combined to set up Josh Kelly who curled a shot just over the bar.
That was a temporary let off as seven minutes from time Kelly scored his fourth and possibly best goal of the game when from a fine left wing cross he picked the ball up on the right of the penalty area and curled his shot into the top left hand corner of the net to make it 5-2.
Blue did well to save from Kelly once again but any chance of Cray getting back in the game were dashed four minutes from time when following a fairly innocuous foul in midfield a tussle led to Mitchell Nelson receiving a straight red card for violent conduct and so would miss the remaining games of the season.
Walton saw the game out with some substitutions including that of four goal Kelly and Casuals had now got themselves back into the playoffs with their second straight win. They do attack with a lot of pace and to be fair to them no team has given Cray a real beating like this all season and although the Wands started well in the first ten minutes no could argue with the quality of Walton’s finishing especially early on.
Cray went down one place to fourth after Greenwich Borough grabbed a late point at home to Hastings United and remain on 86 points but their goal difference is a whopping +62 which gives them a cushion for at least finishing in the playoffs. The Wands finish their league fixtures next Saturday at home to Guernsey and there are a number of permutations and possibilities for a number of clubs leading up to the end of the season.
It was certainly a dramatic way to end Cray’s away games this season and it was just one of those days. Thankfully all is not lost and still so much to play for.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Mitchell Nelson, Jay Leader, Zak Henry, Lea Dawson (Capt.), Michael Freiter (Karl Dent, H/T, Marcus Evans, 90)), Kyron Farrell (Brandon Scott, 22), Charlie MacDonald, Aaron Rhule, Junior Dadson: Subs: Michael Power, Joe Vines
Sent Off: Nelson 86
Walton Casuals: Denzel Gerrar, Harry Mills, Dominic Ogun, Alex Kelly, Joe Hicks (Capt.), Max Hustwick, Tyrell Richardson-Brown (Calegero Scanella, 90), Sonny Black (Bailey Tanner, 88), Josh Kelly (Sean McCormack 87), Lartey Sarpong, Youssef Bamba: Subs: Chris Smith
Referee: Steven Hughes
Assistant Referees: Anthony Andrews, Alexander Bradley