Cray Wanderers created a piece of history as the Wands reached the 3rd Round or last 64 of the FA Trophy for the first time after a dramatic afternoon at Hayes Lane with one of the upset victories of the round against National South highflyers Ebbsfleet United on a penalty shoot-out. 

The Wands took the game by the scruff of the neck with two goals in three minutes late in the first half as first Jamie Yila showed a poacher’s knack to fire in after Fjord Rogers free kick was saved on 35 minutes and then shortly after plundered a second with a classy piece of finishing down the right of the area.

Ebbsfleet though showed resolve to come back in the last quarter of an hour and on 76 minutes pulled a goal back through top scorer Rakish Bingham. Then in the final minute drew level when Jack Paxman down the right won the ball and from the right byline cut the ball back to Will Wood to score and take the game to penalties. 

From here though Cray showed great bottle and scored all five penalties and Michael West missed for Ebbsfleet with the score at 3-2 and Chris Dickson scored the winning penalty to advance to the next round.

The game was dramatic from the off and Cray almost scored in the opening minute when a stray pass across the back line was pounced upon by Chris Dickson and from the right side of the penalty area fired over the bar from 14 yards.

Fjord Rogers had an outstanding, industrious game up front for the Wands and in the 8th minute showed good strength to run from his own half down the left, took on Sefa Kahraman into the area but his final shot just lacked the power to test a diving Chris Haigh.

The Fleet started to seriously threaten from the 11th minute and from a corner down the left, Michael West’s cross into a crowded penalty area was glanced goalwards by Elliott Romain and was touched onto the crossbar by Jack Turner and the rebound was blocked.

Then down the left, Ben Chapman set up Kieran Monlouis for a shot which was pushed behind for a corner. A couple of minutes later, Turner made a tremendous one handed save to deny a near post shot down the right from Monlouis.

The game then had a brief lull before it seemed Ebbsfleet had broken the deadlock in the 27th minute when a left wing cross to the far post was turned in by Will Wood but after consultation with the linesman was judged to have been handled and the goal was disallowed.

This seemed to spur Cray and the Wands came close to scoring when down the right Dickson and Rogers combined to set up Cameron Brodie down the byline and his cross shot was palmed out by Chris Haigh.  Then at the other end Chapman fired over from a free kick outside the left of the area.

In the 35th minute Cray went in front after Jamie Yila was fouled just outside the penalty area.  From the free kick Rogers shot went through the wall and was pushed out by Haigh but following up Yila was on hand to score from close range.

Three minutes later Cray went further ahead when a terrific ball from Uchechi cut through the Ebbsfleet defence down the right and Yila pounced to tuck home from 8 yards to give Cray a bit of comfort.

Before the break there were half chances at both ends, Christian N’Gessan shot well over for Ebbsfleet while at the other end, Uchechi’s shot was held by Haigh. The last chance of the half fell to Ebbsfleet as Paxman’s shot was pushed out and Romain fired over from the rebound.

In the 49th minute Ebbsfleet perhaps should have done better with a chance after West set up Wood down the left of the area but fired over the angle of post and crossbar. Then Ebbsfleet came close to pulling a goal back when Romain set up substitute Alfie Egan and his shot was well pushed behind by Turner round the left post. 

The pressure was starting to tell as Ebbsfleet substitutions gave them impetus and one of them, leading scorer Rakish Bingham began the comeback on 76 minutes with a classy finish when Egan found Tobi Adebayo-Rowling and his cut back was stroked home by Bingham into the bottom right corner from 12 yards.

Shortly after Anthony Cook shot wide but Ebbsfleet were looking more and more dangerous and from a free kick on the left edge of the area, Paxman’s shot curled round the wall and was turned round the post by Turner once again.  Then Turner did superbly to make a fine blocked save to deny Romain with a shot from Craig Tanner’s pass.

The game was heading into the final minute and Cray who for the first time were looking weary were pegged back to 2-2 when a ball down the right sought out Paxman who took on the advancing Turner and from close to the byline pulled the ball back to Wood to turn the ball in from ten yards.

Despite some late pressure Ebbsfleet couldn’t score a winner and with the game now played in very cold conditions extra-time may have been a stretch for both teams so a penalty shoot out was the right verdict to decide the game.

Cray stroked home their first three kicks with Cook, Rogers and Tom Hanfrey scoring confidently. Bingham and Paxman did for Ebbsfleet but their third penalty from Michael West went over the bar. Jai Reason and Ben Chapman scored to make it 4-3 and was then left to Chris Dickson who won this competition last season with Hornchurch to show the necessary composure to fire into the bottom left and win the game for Cray and take their place in Monday's 3rd Rd draw.


Cray Wanderers:       Jack Turner, Freddy Barton, Dean Beckwith (Capt.), Richie Danquah, Tom Hanfrey, Cameron Brodie, Jai Reason, Daniel Uchechi (Anthony Cook, 71), Jamie Yila (Kasim Aidoo, 90+3), Fjord Rogers, Chris Dickson: Subs: Adam Coombes, Danny Kedwell

Att: 366