Ryman League Division One South – 25/3/17
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers returned to winning ways after eight games without a win after a solid and professional display defeated Whyteleafe at Church Road.
The Wands shaded the early stages and took the lead through Lee Prescott’s fine 25 yard strike in the 21st minute and after that defended stoically and solidly to record a win that was well deserved. In a game of surprisingly few chances the Wands took the one that really counted and produced a victory much in keeping with many of last season’s away displays.
Cray took to the field on a very bright and mild late March afternoon in the beautiful wooded setting of Whyteleafe looking to pick up their first win since 8th February. From the side beaten at home to South Park last Saturday, there were a couple of changes to the starting lineup. Skipper, Lea Dawson returned from suspension whilst Lee Prescott and Brandon Scott came in for Zak Henry, Nathan Fox and Dane Luchford. Jay Leader and Danny Haynes were absent through injury. There were four members of the Cray Wanderers U21 side on the bench with Henry, Sean Law, Tyrone Guthrie and Ken Charles along with Anthony Adesite giving perhaps a look to the future of the club.
Before the match a minute silence for those that lost their lives in the terrorist atrocity in Westminster on Wednesday was impeccably observed.
The Wands took the game to the home side in the early stages but couldn’t really forge a serious opening but did win an early corner after a strong charge forward from Paul Lorraine.
The first attempt on goal came for Whyteleafe when from a free kick twenty five yards out, Sam Clayton curled a shot around the wall but was comfortably claimed by Nick Blue.
The Wands had a chance when from a free kick way out on the right, Lee Prescott’s floated ball towards the far post was met by the head of Lea Dawson but couldn’t divert his header on goal.
In the 21st minute and completely out of nothing, Cray took the lead. Andrew Musungu was dispossessed by Prescott who strode on, cut inside and fired in a shot from twenty five yards which was too hot for home keeper Ben Bridle-Card to hold and flew into the net of the net.
It had been a while since Cray took the lead in a game (away to Chipstead on 25th February) and had to soak up a bit of pressure from Whyteleafe as the rest of the half progressed.
The nearest they came to scoring though came when Musungu down the left laid the ball across to Daniel Ajakaiye whose close range effort was blocked by a defender.
This was followed by a half volley from Ajakaiye which was well off target and then was foiled inside the box by a superb tackle by the immaculate Lorraine.
The last half chance of the half for the home side came in five minutes of added on time when Clayton and Ajakaiye combined to see an effort blocked and the ball came to Olumide Oluwatimilehin whose effort was fielded by Blue.
Half Time: 0-1.
Perhaps the best thing to say about the second half was the sight of the very strong sunshine but Cray with perhaps a look to obtain that elusive win produced a very good defensive display with Lorraine and Jai McKinlay outstanding whilst youngsters Ben Mundele and Timi Osidobu produced mature displays beyond their years to keep the home side at bay.
Early in the second half, Musungu got to the left touchline and put a cross into the box which was cleared away and this set the tone for the rearguard action to follow.
The Wands didn’t create many openings although Dent who was another stellar performer put over a cross from the right which no-one could get on the end of. For Whyteleafe Musungu saw an effort blocked and then hit a shot which Blue comfortably held.
Perhaps Cray’s best opening of the half came when Scott and Luke Medley combined to set up Dent who flicked a cross-shot towards goal which just drifted wide.
The best chance for Whytleafe of the afternoon came twenty minutes from the end when from a free kick out on the right the ball came to Scott Day who couldn’t get the ball under control but the ball came out to Clayton who drove a shot wide of the left post.
The Wands midfield was in good form with Dawson and Sean Roberts excelling and the whole team were very disciplined in the closing stages and despite Whyteleafe dominating possession created no real chances of note.
Cray perhaps conscious of the long run without a win it was understandable if they were a little nervous in attack but managed to comfortably see out the victory. Tyrone Guthrie came on towards the end of stoppage time to make his Wands first team debut.
Although this was by no means the most dramatic game of the season it was important for the team to get back on track and there were many fine individual performances amongst a strong team effort. It was reminiscent of the second half at Hastings United back in January when Cray led at the break and soaked up pressure to win.
Cray now can look to end the season with more confidence and have two home games in the next week against Herne Bay and then against title chasing Dorking Wanderers on Saturday.
Cray: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Timi Osidobu, Jai McKinlay, Paul Lorraine, Lea Dawson (Capt), Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Tyrone Guthrie, 90+4), Luke Medley, Lee Prescott, Brandon Scott (Anthony Adesite, 77) : Subs: Zak Henry, Ken Charles, Sean Law,
Whyteleafe: Ben Bridle-Card, Liam Collins, Andrew Musungu, Tyler Brown, Jamahl Howlett-Mundle, Terrell Forbes (Capt.), Kelvin Ogboe (Lanre Azeez, 64), Bentley Graham (Olumide Oluwatimilehin, 35), Daniel Ajakaiye, Scott Day, Sam Clayton (Stephen Hodge, 88)
Referee: Neil West
Assistants: Paul Agboola, Ronald Albert