East Grinstead Town 0-2 Cray Wanderers
East Grinstead Town 0-2 Cray Wanderers

Cray Wanderers made it four wins in a row and moved ten points clear at the top of the Bostik South-East after a very professional performance at East Grinstead Town which saw two second half goals from Joe Taylor and Freddie Parker made it nine wins out of ten games away from home and break the fifty point barrier.

The Wands had the better openings of a scoreless first half with Parker, Taylor and Archie Johnson all coming close to scoring before the break.  Cray went in front on 51 minutes when from a swift break, Johnson’s fine run and pass found Taylor who finished coolly for his second goal for Cray.  From another Johnson’s assist, this time a inswinging left wing cross the ball was deflected into the path of Parker who lashed home his seventh league goal of the season.

Cray were looking to keep up the momentum following the dramatic injury time victory against Three Bridges last Sunday and from the side which started that game into the side came match winner Archie Johnson for Jerome Federico and Freddie Parker in place of Aaron Rhule.

East Grinstead Town would prove to be a tough obstacle to break down and on a chilly afternoon Cray would have to work very hard to come back with another three points.

The home side began well and almost got in down the left and Marcus Elliott’s ball into the box was cleared away by Mitchell Nelson.  Then Dane Pearse and Mitchell Chapman combined to set up top scorer Greg Cundle who shot wide of the left post from 20 yards.

Cray though with Parker and Taylor up front were looking good going forward and from a move which started from Ben Mundele down the right, the ball switched to Barney Williams down the left who found Karl Dent who set up Parker for a first time shot which was saved by the chest of keeper Brannon Daly.

The Wands had a shout for a penalty when Taylor went down inside the area under a challenge from Drew Cooney but appeals were waived away.

Then down the left, Dent’s ball across was palmed behind by Daly and from the corner Dent’s cross was flicked wide of goal by Nelson.  From another Dent corner down the left, Nelson’s flick on into the six yard box was deflected into the path of Jay Leader who got his boot to the ball from four yards but Daly was able to push the ball away and came to Tom Phipp who shot over.

The game became a bit scrappy for a spell but Cray were playing well and came close again when Bradley Pritchard and Dent combined to put in Taylor down the left of the area and his near post shot was blocked by Cooney for a corner.

Cray ended the half strongly and perhaps the best move of the game, Parker down the right got away into the area and put over a cross which was helped on by Taylor to Johnson who from eight yards hit a first time shot which Daly did superbly to push round for a corner.

This was followed by Dent hitting a first time volley from Cooney’s header away from just outside the area which was gathered by Daly and then Pritchard did well to put Taylor through down the left of the area but pulled his shot just wide of the right post.

Cray had certainly done enough to be leading at the break while East Grinstead were defending very solidly but as it was the teams went in at the break at nil-nil

Half Time:  0-0

The temperature at the start of the second half seemed to dip rather and the half began quietly but it was Cray who after 51 minutes broke the deadlock with a high quality breakaway.

From an East Grinstead attack down the left hand side Johnson just outside the penalty area picked the ball up, ran forward and played a superb ball across to the right to Taylor just outside the area who held off Ryan Johnson and from 12 yards stroked the ball expertly wide of Daly into the bottom left corner of the net.

Moments later Cray came close again when a free kick out on the right was floated towards Taylor who helped the ball on to Nelson whose overhead kick went just wide of goal.

East Grinstead looked to draw level and from a corner down the left the ball was played into the area and cleared out Cooney who hit a shot which was deflected behind for a another corner.

Cray were still playing well and down the right Parker made a run across and found Taylor whose shot was nicked over the top by a defender for a corner.

On 63 minutes, Cray made it 2-0 with another well worked goal from a throw in down the left and Williams found Johnson whose cross was knocked off the head of Ryan Johnson towards Parker from 12 yards who seemed to dummy the ball with his left foot to find space and with his right smashed home a great finish into the net.

From here to be honest there wasn’t a great deal of incident as the Wands were able to withstand any pressure from East Grinstead and there was some very good game management from Cray.

Cray almost grabbed a third in stoppage time when Dent played a good ball through to Malik Solebo who hit a shot which seemed to go under Daly towards the goal but was able to recover to claim the ball on the line.

The Wands once again had to show their mettle and resolve to gain the three points against durable opponents who battled hard in defence but Cray played some fine football and defensively were very sound and gave very little away to the home side.  Tom Phipp bore the brunt of one or two pretty robust challenges throughout the game but had an excellent match as did Johnson, Pritchard and Leader and Nelson who were rocklike at the back. Taylor and Parker did well upfront and had a goal apiece to show for their afternoon’s endeavours.

With Hastings drawing at Phoenix Sports, Cray’s lead at the top stretched to ten points but no-one is getting carried away at this early stage of the season and there are so many difficult games to come including next week at home to VCD Athletic so much more sweat and hard graft to come.

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Barney Williams (Capt.), Archie Johnson, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Phipp, Karl Dent, Joe Taylor (Malik Solebo, 87), Freddie Parker, Ben Mundele:  Subs:  Jerome Federico, Dan Uchechi, Marcus Evans, Joe Vines

 Booked:          Pritchard

 East Grinstead Town:  Brannon Daly, Callum Emptage (Capt.) (Jack Bray, 65), Mitchell Chapman, Dan Pearse, Drew Cooney, Ryan Johnson, Matt Day (Ollie Boulding, 65), Jordan Johnson, George Landais (Dean Gunner, 65). Greg Cundle, Marcus Elliott: Subs:  Freddie Yao, Leo Mazzone   


Booked:          Chapman       


Referee:          Alex Bradley

Assistants:      Lloyd Higgins, David Ellis                 



Att:      125