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Chelmsford at the double to end Cray's FA Cup run
PETER GORINGE WRITES: Cray Wanderers led at half-time but conceded two quick goals as Conference South visitors Chelmsford City made a supercharged start to the second half and ended as 2-1 winners of a hard-fought FA Cup 3rd qualifying round tie at Hayes Lane.
A low-key first half saw few chances at either end of the field as Cray of the Ryman Premier League found their higher-ranked opponents making a lack-lustre start.
Laurent Hamici hammered a low ball across the area as the Wands pressed forward, but there was no-one on hand to turn the ball home.
The lively Leigh Bremner was a constant threat to the lethargic Clarets. Shortly before the interval, Michael Power was inches from converting his superb left-wing cross.
On the stroke of half-time, the same pair combined to give Cray the lead. Bremner’s persistence got him to the bye-line. His cross was cleared only as far as Power, whose low shot was fumbled by Stuart Searle. Chris Saunders tapped home the rebound.
A supercharged start to the second half by Chelmsford turned the game on its head with the visitors immediately going onto the offensive. Within four minutes of the restart, from the third in a series of corners, Tyrone Sterling cleared Donavan Simmonds’ header off the line, only for Jamie Slabber to nod the loose ball home.
Three minutes later, Anthony Cook, whose pace and trickery was a constant threat to Cray, got free on the right. His superb cross was met by Slabber’s head at the near post and Cray’s ‘keeper, Andy Walker, could only get a hand to the ball on its way to the back of the net.
After Slabber’s quick double, the shell-shocked Wands clawed their way back into the match. Bremner broke free on the left, but his cross eluded the onrushing Hamici and Searle scrambled the ball clear. And Kenny Clark was close to netting in his own goal as he headed another dangerous ball from Bremner narrowly over the bar.
As the game became stretched in the closing stages, Chelmsford substitute Warren Whitely forced Walker into a low save while Williams Pearoux sent a curling shot wide when well-placed to score for Cray.
Stoppage time saw Slabber came close to completing his hat-trick, but Walker made a brilliant stop as he attempted to turn in Justin Miller’s right-wing cross.
Cray: Walker, Burgess, Sterling, Day, Willy, Vines (Guest 69), Power (Pearoux 57), Saunders, Bremner, Hamici, Lozano (Williams 57). Subs not used: Pooley, Parkinson, Sprosen, Darvill.
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