Cray Wanderers 0-0 Corinthian Casuals
Cray Wanderers 0-0 Corinthian Casuals

Cray Wanderers are still seeking their first league win of the 2019-20 season following a goalless draw against Corinthian Casuals at Hayes Lane. 

Both sides had made slow starts to the season and despite plenty of endeavour there were few chances in a rather tense game although Cray had a good spell in the last ten minutes and could have won the match with Bradley Pritchard, Charlie Allen and Tom Murphy going close.

Cray began the game with one point from their opening two games after the agonising late defeat to Folkestone Invicta on Wednesday night.  Corinthian Casuals had lost both their opening games 1-0 away to Haringey Borough and at home to Merstham on Tuesday night so were awaiting their first goal of the season.

For Tony Russell’s side there was one change to the starting lineup with Aaron Rhule starting in place of the injured Andre Coker. 

On a dry and sunny day compared to the unseasonal weather at start of the season, the game had the feel that one goal was going to win the match with both sides lacking confidence.

The match took a good fifteen minutes to really get going with Corinthian Casuals perhaps shading the early exchanges but there were no chances to speak of.

An early blow struck Cray when Tom Phipp went down with a possible hamstring injury while shepherding a ball behind for a goalkick and was replaced after just 10 minutes by Charles Etumnu who fitted in at the back alongside Mitchell Nelson.

The first burst of excitement took place 20 minutes in, Jerome Federico did well down the right before cutting ball into the area to Freddie Parker who drilled a low shot that was saved by the legs of keeper Dan Bracken making his 400th appearance in goal for Corinthian Casuals.

This led to a bit more excitement and Casuals threatened with Kevat Serbonij firing a shot wide of the left post from 25 yards.

Then at the other end a ball was worked from midfield up to Joe Taylor who held the ball up superbly and looked to cut inside and curled a shot over the crossbar.

On 29 minutes, Corinthian Casuals had the ball in the back of the net when Serbonij found Hamilton Antonio and his right wing cross was tapped in by Oliver Sitch but the flag was raised for offside.

Cray looked to get things going and Taylor saw a shot blocked on the edge of the area while at the other end, the lively Serbonij was unlucky to see a curling shot fly just over the top while perhaps looking to see Lewis Carey off his line.

Corinthian Casuals were awarded a free kick some 30 yards from goal and from the free kick, Coskum Ekim’s shot went straight into the arms of Carey.

Cray came close when Barney Williams found Federico down the right and his ball found Pritchard who swept the ball across and Aaron Rhule just couldn’t apply a touch.

There were a couple of near things before the break for Cray involving the impressive Lee Lewis and Parker, the latter slipped a ball through to Taylor who from just inside the area fired a shot wide of the right post.

This was followed by Corinthian Casuals going close when Antonio played a ball through to Michael Dixon who from inside the area drove a shot towards the near post and the ball was parried behind by Carey for a corner. 

The second half saw both sides looking to get forward but the final ball was lacking and the game went through something of a lull in terms of chances created.

Cray, were awarded a free kick twenty five yards from goal following a foul on Federico and Parker’s shot was deflected behind for a corner.  Then the excellent Tom Carlse and Pritchard combined to play in Taylor down the left and found Federico who drove a shot across goal and behind.

Just after the hour, Cray won a corner down the right and Parker’s cross was met at the far post by the imperious Mitchell Nelson and his ball into the box was headed away by Jack Strange but the ball came to Lee Lewis who fired a shot well wide.

Corinthian Casuals had a fair amount of the ball but their final pass was letting them down and Carey didn’t really have a great deal to do in the second half.

Just as the second half was looking like it was going to drift towards an inevitable draw the game picked up momentum with Cray having a great late spell of pressure.

Firstly, Pritchard, Tom Murphy and Taylor combined to set up Federico who found space but fired a shot wide from 20 yards.

Then perhaps the best chance of the game came when Taylor played in Charlie Allen who whipped over a fine cross into the area. Bradley Pritchard met the ball with a diving header but the ball went straight to the grateful Bracken.

Cray then won a corner down the right and Lewis’s ball into the box was headed out to Murphy who met the ball on the volley from 20 yards but his shot zipped fractionally wide of the right post. 

The Wands came fractionally close to winning the game in stoppage time, Carlse found Murphy who sent over a fine cross into the box but Allen steered his shot just wide of the right post.

Despite late Cray pressure they couldn’t get the breakthrough to win the game and the match ended as a draw.

Perhaps, the team are just not getting the rub of the green in front of goal right now and injuries to Jay Leader, Andre Coker and now Tom Phipp are also unfortunate at this early stage of the season.

Certainly not a classic by any means but there were some good performances from Cray players particularly Nelson at the back, Charles Etumnu did well coming into the game so early and Carlse, Williams and Lewis had fine games too. 

The Wands are back in action on Wednesday night against Margate at Hayes Lane.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp (Charles Etumnu, 10), Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico, Aaron Rhule (Tom Murphy, 69), Freddie Parker (Charlie Allen, 74), Joe Taylor: 

Subs:  Karl Dent, Joe Vines

Corinthian Casuals:  Dan Bracken, Juevan Spencer, Hakeem Adelakun (Mu Maan, 71), Andrew Mills, Jack Strange, Coskum Ekim, Mathias Bakare (Maxwell Oldham, 65), Hamilton Antonio, Michael Dixon, Oliver Sitch (Reyon Dillon, 72), Kevat Serbonij:

Subs: Josh Uzun, Jack Tucker

Referee:  Kane Dempster

Assistants:  Jak Hill, Billy Wood

Attendance:      207