The long awaited start to the 2017-18 Bostik League South season brought a local derby to Hayes Lane as Cray Wanderers took on Thamesmead Town.  In a game which brought former Wands boss Tommy Warrilow back for the first time as a manager,  there was a late twist as a goal three minutes into stoppage time saw the visitors take a point after Cray had looked likely to hold on to their lead.

The first half started at a frenetic pace and Cray took the lead in the 11th minute when Karl Dent finished a fine move set up by Luke Medley’s pullback.  The lead though lasted only five minutes as Thamesmead levelled when lively Tashi-Jay Kwayie struck and the game then settled down for the remainder of the half.

Cray started the second half well and Michael Frieter finished from six yards in the 51st minute from Brandon Scott’s ball across and the Wands had looked to have had a fair element of control of the game.

However, three minutes into added on time, Thamesmead grabbed a dramatic equaliser when a Leon Smith throw in down the right was flicked on and Kwayie pounced with a near post header to frustrate the Wands hopes of winning the opening game of the season for the first time since 2008-09.

The game began at a breakneck pace and Thamesmead had the first opportunities to score.  Firstly, Ryan Flack put a ball over from the right which came to Tashi-Jay Kwayie who hooked a volley wide of goal.  A couple of minutes later, Thamesmead should really have scored when O’Connor played a ball through to Kwayie who was denied by the quick thinking of Nick Blue who blocked the initial shot and following up Teniola fired into the side netting.

You sensed a goal wasn’t far away and it came in the 11th minute after a well worked move.  A corner from the right looked to have been over hit past the back post but Lea Dawson retrieved the ball down the left, fed Michael Frieter who played the ball into the area to Medley who cut the ball back to Dent who held off two defenders to place the ball past Lewis Carey.

Thamesmead though hit back five minutes later when a ball over the top from Kinch made its way to Kwayie who charged on and confidently stroked the ball into the net.

The 2nd half began much like the first with the emphasis on attack.  Thamesmead had the first attempts when Kwayie curled a shot narrowly wide from the left edge of the area.

Cray though regained the lead in the 51st minute after some fine play by Ben Mundele down the right who played the ball to Scott who ran to the byline and into the box.  His ball across was deflected into the path of Frieter who capped an impressive performance with a crisp finish from six yards.

Cray looked to grab a third which would have given breathing space and Medley beat the offside trap to escape down the right and played the ball to Dent whose shot was blocked well by Carey.  Then in the 73rd minute, Scott was denied by the legs of Carey.

Thamesmead searched for a goal too and Laurent Mendy put over a looping cross from the left which was helped on to Paul Vines who found Teniola whose overhead kick was acrobatically claimed by a diving Blue.

The Wands had looked to have done enough to win the game but three minutes into injury time Thamesmead grabbed a point when a Leon Smith throw in down the right was hurled to the near post and was flicked back to Kwayie who steered a header into the net and earned a share of the spoils.