Worthing v Cray Wanderers – Velocity League Cup – Saturday 21st December, 2019
Jelley 29, Pearce 43, Chalaye 67
Cray Wanderers 2
Pritchard 49, Dent 84
Cray Wanderers cup interest for the 2019-20 season came to an end after an entertaining cup tie saw the Wands edged out by Worthing in the 1st Knockout round of the Isthmian League Cup.
On a wet and sloshy afternoon interspersed with occasional sunshine Worthing just about edged a fairly even first half for the most part and scored two goals to lead at the break through Dylan Jelley just before the half hour and two minutes before the break Oliver Pearce pounced to score from close range. Cray who lost Tom Carlse to a toe injury in the first half fought back well after the break and Bradley Pritchard coolly slotted four minutes into the second half to make it game on once again. Worthing substitute, Thomas Chalaye drilled home a third goal in the 67th minute to give the Rebels a two goal advantage once again. Cray though never give up and Karl Dent’s free kick came back off a post and six minutes from the end Dent took advantage of a defensive error to make it 3-2 but Cray couldn’t score again to force a penalty shoot-out.
The Wands were looking to restore some confidence after last Saturday’s 2-7 defeat not so far away at Bognor Regis Town and a mostly full strength side went to Worthing in Cray’s first Isthmian League Cup tie since 2014. From the team which started at Bognor, into the side came Ben Mundele, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico and Tom Murphy in place of Charlie Allen, Geofrey Okonkwo, the rested Joe Taylor and Andre Coker who has since joined Bromley.
It was evident that this would be a tough match against a Worthing side in good form and went joint top of the Isthmian Premier on Tuesday night after beating Enfield Town and were able to juggle their side around a bit with scorers that night, Ricky Aguiar and Reece Myles-Meekums on the bench. They did look a team high on confidence but Cray certainly played their part in a good cup tie despite the wet conditions.
The first fifteen minutes saw some enjoyable sparring but Worthing created the first real opening of the game in the 8th minute when Joe Clarke was played in down the right of the area but dragged his shot wide of the right post. Cray were looking tidy going forward with Tom Murphy playing the lone striker role but the midfield were busy and industrious and Cray had their first shooting chance when Joel Rollinson was off target with a shot on the edge of the penalty area. Then from a free kick from 25 yards, Lee Lewis’ shot went over the bar.
In the 29th minute though, the deadlock was broken and Worthing took the lead when from a free kick out on the right, Ollie Pearce’s ball into the box towards the far post was nodded on by Aarran Racine to find Dylan Jelley who drilled a shot past Lewis Carey from the edge of the six yard box.
Worthing has a better spell after that and Alex Parsons shot over and Pearce’s cross shot was well claimed by Carey. There was a blow for Cray however when Tom Carlse had to go off with a toe injury in the 33rd minute with Joe Taylor introduced into the game.
Cray looked to get back on terms before the break but the nearest they came was when down the left Mundele and Dent combined to set up Murphy who fired wide of goal.
Two minutes before half-time Worthing scored a second goal when from a quick free kick from Darren Budd released Jasper Pattenden who broke down the left, cut into the area and played the ball across to the far post towards Pearce who claimed the goal but did appear to be turned in by Ben Mundele on the line.
Half Time: 2-0
The second half began with Cray taking the game to Worthing and looking to get back into it as quickly as possible. Four minutes after the break, Cray pulled a goal back to give the scoreline a more realistic look when Danny Barker was dispossessed by Bradley Pritchard and following up Jerome Federico feigned to shoot but instead played a disguised pass through to Pritchard who stroked the ball home from 12 yards to make it an exciting second half.
There were certainly more opportunities in the second half and for Worthing, Pearce cut inside from the left and hit a shot off target. Meanwhile at the other end Federico found space down the right but over hit his cross and the ball sailed over. Then, Cray almost levelled when Mundele’s ball across found Pritchard who slightly further out than his goal hit a shot on target which was held by Carl Rushworth. This was followed by a Tom Murphy effort being deflected behind for a corner.
Worthing had their moments too and following a free kick out on the right of the area, Pearce’s ball was deflected out to Fin Stevens who shot wide and then Parsons saw a well struck shot blocked and put behind for a corner.
In the 67th minute, Worthing restored their two goal advantage with a well crafted goal when Budd down the right played a fine ball through to Clarke who cut into the area and laid a pass across to substitute Thomas Chalaye who got to the ball ahead of Mitchell Nelson to steer the ball into the net and make it 3-1.
It looked like that would end the contest but Cray kept plugging away and were unlucky not to pull a goal back when they were awarded a free kick, in a central position just outside the area. From the free kick, Dent curled the ball round the wall but thudded back off the left post and following up Murphy shot was saved by the legs of Rushworth.
Worthing nearly grabbed a fourth when down the left, Tutt found Pattenden and his ball across was headed wide by Chalaye.
With ten minutes to go, two youngsters were given their first team debuts for Cray, in Archie Daniels and Chris Al Hassan and a great moment for these first year U18s players.
This added more impetus to Cray’s play and six minutes from time, indecision at the back by Racine led to him being dispossessed on the edge of the area by Dent who with the bare minimum of fuss fired the ball into the net and gave Cray hope once again.
For Worthing, they tried to finish the game and Chalaye shot over the bar and Callum Kealy’s shot was held by Carey.
The last really good opportunity of the game though fell to Cray when Dent and Rollinson combined to set up Joe Taylor down the left of the area but his shot on goal was saved by Rushworth and the last chance to take the game to penalties was gone.
However, Cray contributed much to what at first appeared to be a low key cup tie but certainly there was plenty to entertain the impressive pre-Christmas crowd and whet the appetite for the league game between the sides on February 8th. Worthing won the tie and will now be at home to Whyteleafe in the last 16 in January.
Cray meanwhile certainly were looking to restore their pride following last Saturday and came out of the game with credit and can now look forward to returning to league action on Boxing Day and the visit of an in-form and hard to beat Leatherhead to Hayes Lane.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele (Archie Daniels, 80), Tom Carlse (Joe Taylor, 33), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Karl Dent, Jerome Federico (Geofrey Okonkwo, 64), Joel Rollinson, Tom Murphy (Chris Al Hassan, 81): Subs: Joe Vines
Booked: Nelson, Pritchard
Worthing: Carl Rushworth, Fin Stevens, Cameron Tutt, Darren Budd, Aarran Racine, Dylan Jelley, Alex Parsons, Danny Barker (Thomas Chalaye, 58), Joe Clarke, Oliver Pearce (Callum Kealy, 71), Jasper Pattenden: Subs: Alfie Young, Ricky Aguiar, Reece Myles-Meekums
Referee: Rob Ablitt
Assistants: Nigel Baker, Dan Batchelor
Attendance – 380