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Bishop’s Stortford 3-1 Cray Wanderers
Bishop’s Stortford 3-1 Cray Wanderers

On a nervy and tense afternoon Cray Wanderers maintained their Isthmian League Premier Division status despite losing 3-1 to an impressive Bishop’s Stortford side who secured second place and home advantage in the play offs with their win.     

With the wind whipping across the pitch, conditions made things difficult for both sides, but after a lively start from The Wands it was the home side who created the first real chances.

Billy Cracknell heading over a free kick, before 17 year old keeper Nathan Boamah made two good saves to deny Ollie Peters and Darren Foxley.

Cray came back into things with Chris Dickson shooting wide from a Jamile Yila knock down and then turning Sam Wood free kick over the bar.

The Blues backed by their excellent support then had another strong spell of pressure and this time it paid off when Jonny Giles received the ball 20 yards out and drilled a powerful low effort into the corner of the net for 1-0 on 21 minutes.

Giles forced another save from Boamah before The Wands battled back and drew level on 32 minutes when Cook’s corner from the left was turned over the line by Yila to equalise.

Stortford kept pressing from there though with Foxley powering down the left to cross for Giles who shot over from just inside the area. Jedd Smith headed wide from another dangerous corner over for The Wands, but it was the home side who dominated the latter stages of the first half.

Ben Marlow & Peters firing over before they re-took the lead in stoppage time when Giles’ cross from the right was headed home by Foxley with a deft flick over Boamah and into the net just under the bar. 

Going into the break Cray looked in real relegation trouble with East Thurrock winning at home to Horsham and Kings Langley in front at Salisbury.   

The second half saw Cray start well again with a series of corners, but it was The Blues who further extended their lead on 50 minutes when Giles hit a superb long range effort that crashed into the back of the net giving Boamah no chance and making it 3-1.

Dickson had a shot saved by Jack Giddens as the game opened up and Boamah made a great save low down at his near post to deny Foxley at the other end.

On the hour Neil Smith made all three substitutions and switched from 5-3-2 to 4-4-2, which gave The Wands a more solid look in the central areas. Cook, now pushed into midfield, was crudely brought down by Ryan Henshaw as he broke down the right and the home team captain was booked.

The Wands battled & scrapped for every ball in midfield and occasionally Yila managed to break free and win some corners down the right, but the final ball just wasn’t falling for Cray around the box.

Luca Albon shot wide across goal from the edge of the area, but chances were few and far between. Deep into five minutes injury time Archie Jones’ free kick was headed wide by James Baker as the home side looked to cap a solid performance with another goal, but in the end they had already done enough to make sure of second place. 

The final whistle sounded with all Cray eyes on the result at The Rookery and East Thurrock’s defeat to Horsham meant that The Wands had avoided relegation courtesy of goal difference over Leatherhead!

Stortford: Giddens, Edwards, Jones, Robbins, Henshaw, Giles (Banton 62), Marlow (Allum 67), Foxley, Charles (Baker 67), Peters, Cracknell.

Subs Not Used: Thomas, Harris.     

Cray: Boamah, Aidoo, Danquah (Willams 65), Kaiser, Hanfrey, Cook, Yila, Wood, J Smith (Reid 65), Dickson, Kader (Albon 65).

Subs Not Used: Filip, Joe Smith. 

Goals; BSFC – Giles 21 & 50 mins, Foxley 45mins. CWFC – Yila 32mins. 

HT 2-1 FT 3-1 

Att: 558 

Referee: Steve Smith