Cray Wanderers 2-1 Bedfont Sports
Cray Wanderers 2-1 Bedfont Sports

Cray Wanderers advanced to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2013 after a hard fought victory against Bedfont Sports at Hayes Lane. 

On a sunny afternoon, Cray got off to an electric start and went in front after 6 minutes with Lee Lewis’s first senior goal for the club.  It looked like the Wands had a degree of comfort when Joe Taylor prodded home from close range in the 26th minute.  However a gutsy Bedfont side stuck to their task and pulled a goal back in the 76th minute when skipper Joe Jackson headed home and a fine save from Lewis Carey to deny Didi Ndombe towards the end prevented what could have been a replay but Cray saw out the remaining minutes.

From the side with drew at Potters Bar in the league last Saturday there were two changes to the starting lineup.  Mitchell Nelson returned at centre-half and Tom Carlse at left back in place of Geofrey Odonkwo and Charlie Allen.  Ben Mundele made his first appearance since returning from Bury with a place on the bench.  Bedfont lie 13th in the Isthmian South-Central Division and looked a very young side, full of pace and certainly were going to give it their all in the first ever meeting between the two sides.

Cray were very clinical and professional in the last round against Hythe Town and looked like they were heading for the same again after coming out the traps very quickly.  In the opening minute, Cray won a corner down the left from which, the ball came to Lee Lewis who shot just wide. 

This was followed by Mitchell Nelson finding Tom Carlse who was looking very sharp and fired just wide from 25 yards while shortly after, Jerome Federico’s right wing cross was flicked just past the left post by Joe Taylor.

A goal was on the cards and arrived in the sixth minute after a sharp passing move the ball was worked down the right and Federico’s ball across found Lewis who from just outside the area found space to let fly and his shot crashed past David Trivino and into the net for his first Cray Wanderers first team goal.

That was just the start Cray were looking for and Bedfont were a little bit overawed in the early stages.  The Wands almost scored a second and Carlse shot over from Tom Carlse’s pass.  Slowly, Bedfont managed to get their game together and Didi Ndombe hit a shot from distance which was held by Lewis Carey.

Still Cray pushed for a second and Carlse shot over again from 25 yards while down the left, Taylor’s ball across just missed the onrushing Jerome Federico.  A corner from the right was played towards Nelson whose shot was blocked and then Harry Hudson slipped a ball through to Taylor who took the ball round the keeper but from a tight angle put the ball wide.

Bedfont were looking to get things going and Jayden Clarke shot over from 20 yards while the lively John Roberts made a run forward and his shot was held by Carey.  They received a blow though when full back Will Plumridge had to go off after conceding a corner.

This proved a key moment off the game as from the right wing corner in the 26th minute, Cray scored a second when Freddie Parker’s cross towards the far post was flicked on by Hudson towards goal and Taylor was on hand to head the ball home from about 3 yards.

Cray were looking lively going forward and almost scored a cracking third goal on the half hour when Carlse found Murphy down the left and hit a superb strike from 25 yards which thudded back off the crossbar and out to safety.

Bedfont nearly pulled one back when from a free 20 yards from goal down the left, Roberts shot at the near post was pushed out by Carey.  Shortly after, Cray almost grabbed another when Fedrico cut in from the right and drove a shot towards goal which was well held by Trivino.  Then Carlse shot just over once again as Cray looked for a goal to kill the game before half time.

To be fair to Bedfont they kept on goal and Roberts was a handful and did well to work his way into the area and his near post shot was once again pushed away by Carey.

Before the break both sides could have scored.  Firstly, for Bedfont a neat pass by Veron Kokurinkov found Clarke inside the area but was denied by a brave block by the legs of Carey.  Then Bedfont had a let off when Taylor’s shot was only half pushed out by Trivino and following up Pritchard looked certain to score but his effort was blocked for a corner.

The second half began brightly and Ndombe shot well wide for the visitors while at the other end, Cray almost got a third goal which would probably have sealed the tie when Fedrico down the left found Carlse who burst into the area and was unlucky to see his shot blocked by Trivino.

Bedfont were playing very well in the second half and with nothing to lose were beginning to threaten a comeback and Ndombe found Roberts who broke into the right of the area, took the ball past Carey but the angle was tricky and his shot went into the side net.

There were a couple of second half changes with Charlie Allen coming on for Parker while Ben Mundele made his return to the side in place of Federico.

This seemed to get Cray going again and Allen shot well wide from 30 yards and then Murphy put Taylor through with a pass and a fine tackle by Joe Jackson prevented a shot on goal.

With the game about to enter the last quarter of an hour Cray came close when Taylor and Mundele helped set up Allen for a snap volley which was deflected past for a corner.

However, Bedfont never jacked the game in and on 76 minutes pulled a goal back.  After a corner was won down the right, Clarke’s cross was flicked into the area and Jackson was on hand to steer a header into the bottom right corner from 14 yards.

The game threatened to be end to end and Andy Ali set up Clarke who shot wide from 25 yards for Bedfont as they looked to earn a replay.

Then Cray almost put the game to bed when after a near passing move, Mundele down the right squared the ball across to Pritchard who from the edge of the six yard box saw his shot bravely blocked by Trivino.  Then Mundele who made a lively return to the side saw a couple of crosses blocked.

Bedfont though had a great chance to grab a draw when with four minutes to go, Darryl Sanders put Ndombe away down the left of the area and looked certain to score but Carey did superbly to push the ball away brilliantly and away from goal before a Bedfont player could follow up.

Cray usually so calm were just beginning to get a bit edgy at the end and in deep added on time, Bedfont won a free kick in a good position, 25 yards outside the area and from the free kick, Ali’s shot was parried away by Carey.

In the end though, that was the final action and Cray despite having a tough workout made it through and can now look forward to Monday’s draw and a free week ahead of big game against Haringey Borough on Saturday.  There were some good performances, Lee Lewis got off to a great start to the game, all action and deserved a goal for his all round displays.  Tom Carlse had a superb match and was unlucky not to score, Taylor and Murphy worked hard up front while Lewis Carey made a handful of key saves and certainly a busier game than the game with Hythe in the previous round.   Bedfont played very well and for a young side can look back on a fine performance after an understandably nervy start but it is Cray that go through and can now concentrate on the Haringey Borough and Bishop’s Stortford games before the 2nd Qualifying Round while the league game with Merstham scheduled for September 21st has been re-arranged.

A word too for the match officials, who were superb today, didn’t notice them and barely a bad tackle in the game and in the end an excellent cup tie 

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Mitchell Nelson, Harry Hudson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico (Ben Mundele, 65), Tom Murphy, Freddie Parker (Charlie Allen, 59), Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Tom Phipp, Charles Etumnu, Geoffrey Okonkwo, Grant Hall

Scorers:           Lewis 6, Taylor 26

Bedfont Sports:  David Trivino, Tristan Noel, Will Plumidge (Nathan White, 25), Jordan Aghatise, Joe Jackson (Capt.), Jayden Clarke, Charlie Malin, John Roberts (Darryl Sanders, 69), Keanu Williams (Andy Ali, 60), Didi Ndombe 

Scorer:            Jackson 76

Referee:  George Bryne

Assistants:  Joseph Dann-Pye, Joshua Howard

Att:      225