Whyteleafe vs Cray Wanderers – Bostik League South-East – Tuesday 5th February, 2019
Wilson 90+5 pen
Cray Wanderers 3
Roberts 5, Taylor 21, 41
Pics: Kindly provided by Jon Hilliger
Cray Wanderers produced another outstanding performance on their travels as three first half goals and a strong defensive performance saw Cray remain 13 points clear at the top after victory at a wet and soggy Whyteleafe.
The Wands were looking to build on the momentum of the 6-0 win against Herne Bay on Saturday and took the game to Whyteleafe from the start and went in front on 5 minutes courtesy of Sean Roberts’ header from a Jerome Federico cross. Cray continued to pour forward and on 21 minutes doubled their lead when Joe Taylor converted from Roberts’s superb pass. The Wands dominance of the first half continued up to the break and on 41 minutes Taylor scored his second when he netted from close range from Tom Phipp’s layoff.
The second half couldn’t quite live up to the thrills of the first but there was still much to admire about the Cray performance and they managed the game expertly until the dying moments of stoppage time when Bradley Wilson scored a consolation goal from the penalty spot
From the side so impressive in sweeping aside Herne Bay, there were two changes with Sean Roberts and Joe Taylor coming in for Karl Dent and Freddie Parker. Whyteleafe had been without a game at the weekend but are a good footballing side and this was going to be a real test for Tony Russell’s side especially on a grim and murky night with raining falling throughout the game.
Cray came out of the traps very quickly and made a strong start and Ben Mundele tested keeper Tyler McCarthy with a shot that was well held. Then shortly after Bradley Pritchard from the edge of the area that was again saved by McCarthy.
In the fifth minute, Cray took the lead with a fine goal worked down the right and Jerome Federico who was in superb form in the first half sent over a cross into the area to the back post where Sean Roberts met the ball with a firm header which went in off the right post for his second goal of the season.
Cray continued to impress going forward and following a free kick Archie Johnson played the ball out to Federico who in turn found Tom Phipp whose ball into the box got a touch from Taylor but was held by McCarthy.
Then after fifteen minutes, Federico again was provider with a good ball across to Taylor who steered the ball just wide of the left post. This was followed by Phipp firing over from a free kick.
A second goal was looking increasingly likely for Cray and it duly arrived on 21 minutes when finding space down the left Roberts’ played a terrific ball into the box to Taylor who applied a clinical finish sweeping the ball into the bottom left corner.
Cray almost scored again when Federico’s was pushed onto the head of Taylor by McCarthy but following up Taylor’s shot was blocked by ex-Wand Helge Orome. Taylor then became provider as he set up Pritchard for a shot which was pushed behind well by McCarthy. The keeper then made another good stop this time to deny Archie Johnson who reacted quickest following a corner and his stinging drive was parried away. Then from a corner out on the left, Pritchard’s inswinger was deflected onto the post and out by a Whyteleafe defender.
Whyteleafe then gradually were able to stem the tide as Cray took a breather but couldn’t get much change out of Mitchell Nelson and Jay Leader at the back and Nick Blue was well protected against a good footballing side.
Before the break, from a free kick out on the right the ball came to Taylor inside the area and his near post shot was pushed behind by McCarthy.
From the corner in the 41st minute, Cray scored a third when Pritchard found Federico with a short pass and played the ball across to the edge of the six yard box to Phipp who found Taylor who turned the ball in from four yards to cap off a perfect first half for Cray.
Half Time: 0-3
It would have been expecting too much for the second half to carry on as the first and Whyteleafe came into the game more after the restart but there was still plenty to admire about the way Cray were playing, very steadily and were managing the game perfectly. Again aside from one or two corner kicks and some crosses into the box that had to be cleared, there weren’t too many scares for the Wands.
Cray still created one or two chances with a free kick out on the right, Pritchard’s cross to the far post was headed over by Nelson. Then Taylor down the right of the area, seeking a hat-trick saw his near post shot saved well by the feet of McCarthy.
This was followed by Federico down right finding Pritchard who hit a shot which was deflected over for a corner.
Still Cray sought a fourth goal and from another corner this time from Karl Dent, his right wing cross came to Daniel Uchehci who hit a snap shot from 20 yards which was well saved once again by McCarthy pushing the ball out.
Whyteleafe hadn’t had too many chances but almost got a ball back when Joshua Malcolm picked up the ball and ran towards goal and his effort on goal was blocked away by Nelson.
The rain continued to fall as the game was drifting towards the end but Cray came close again when from a free kick centrally, Dent’s shot was deflected over for a corner. Then Dent dispossessed Daniel Hogan 20 yards from goal and his shot went just over the crossbar.
With the game deep into stoppage time, Bradley Wilson worked his way down the right to the byline and won a corner. From the right wing corner, the referee spotted a push possibly from Nelson on Kelvin Ogboe and a penalty kick was given. From the spot, Wilson scored a consolation goal which was basically the last kick of the game. The last three goals conceded by Cray have all been from penalties.
Cray had been particularly impressive this evening perhaps the best performance of the season and maybe any season, perhaps eclipsing the 3-1 win at Ashford United in September which was such a great result.
With Ashford United winning at Sittingbourne, Cray remain 13 points clear at the top with 61 points and have won 19 of their 24 games. Whyteleafe will cause teams lots of problems in the remaining weeks and shouldn’t be counted out of playoff contention.
Cray for their part next take on a very tough Guernsey side who played well when the two sides met in St Peter Port in November but another game the Wands will surely relish with just 12 games of the season left to go.
Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Archie Johnson, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Sean Roberts, Tom Phipp (Karl Dent, 69), Bradley Pritchard, Joe Taylor (Freddie Parker, 79), Junior Dadson (Daniel Uchechi, 60): Subs: Marcus Evans, Joe Vines
Whyteleafe: Tyler McCarthy, Bryan Akongo (Daniel Hogan, 58), Matthew O’Donoghue, Zahui Orome (Jamie McGeoghegan, 71), Ricardo Thompson, Corey Holder, Bradley Wilson, Bentley Graham, Lauris Chin (Joshua Malcolm, 67), Valentino Carpene, Kelvin Ogboe: Subs: Junior Aikhionbare, Marvin Armstrong
Referee: Graeme Ions
Assistants: Luke Chapman, Carl Smith