Cray Wanderers moved up to 6th place in the Isthmian Premier league table after a hard fought victory at bottom of the table Brightlingsea Regent in a game where both sides finished with ten men.  

After Regent's Jeremiah Anderson was sent off after the hour for a second yellow card, Cray left it late to break the deadlock with the winner coming in the 82nd minute courtesy of Destiny Oladipo's close range finish. 

In stoppage time the Wands keeper Shaun Rowley was sent off for handling outside his area but Neil Smith's side were able to hang on.

Cray had begun March with back to back wins against Bowers & Pitsea and Potters Bar Town and the game began with Cray edging possession and created the first opening of the match in the sixth minute when down the left Yahaya Bamba broke into the area but fired over at the near post and then Tom Derry saw an effort deflected behind for a corner. 

Brightlingsea doggedly hung in the game with Cray unable to break them down and the game became a scrappy affair encapsulated by a booking for Bamba and Regent’s Charlie Durling in the 28th minute for a touch of grappling.  Shortly after Jeremiah Anderson received a yellow card as the game became a little tetchy which probably suited the home side.

The game picked up in the last ten minutes of the half.  Firstly, Durling tested Shaun Rowley with a low shot from outside the box which was well held.

Then David Ijaha found Tom Derry who turned and fired in a shot which perhaps lacked great power which was saved by Charlie Turner.  Then a good pass from midfield found Derry down the right of the area who was just taken too wide by Turner and his short ball across was turned wide by Bamba.

The last chance of the half came to Cray in added on time when down the left Dan Bassett cut into the area but drove a cross-shot wide of the right post.

The second half began in a similar stop-start fashion and for the Wands Anthony Cook blazed a shot well wide of goal.

Chances remained at a premium and Destiny Oladipo and Marcus Sablier were introduced off the bench to try and open up the game for Cray.

In the 62nd minute Brightlingsea who had looked pretty secure at the back were reduced to ten men when Anderson picked up a second yellow card for a sturdy challenge on Harrison Sodje.

Cray looked to up the tempo and Nyren Clunis was denied a shooting chance by a fine tackle by Jake Thompson and following up Sam Wood saw a well struck drive blocked.

Despite being down to ten men Regent looked more dangerous a man down and came close when substitute Suleyman Zehdu hit a crisp shot which was well pushed out by Rowley.  Then shortly after George Russell down the right curled a shot just wide of the left post.

Cray came closest yet to scoring when from a free kick down the left, Sam Wood’s ball into the six yard box was headed wide of the right post by Jalen Jones.

The game looked to be continuing on to a scrappy finish until the 82nd minute when the deadlock was broken.  The Wands won a corner down the right and Wood’s ball across was helped on by Matt Weaire and via a Regent defender the ball came to Oladipo who casually placed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net for his second goal in two appearances.

Cray with the man advantage looked to take control of the game and Oladipo set up Wood for a shot well wide of goal.

The Wands looked to be coasting to a win but there was late drama in added on time when a back pass was handled outside the area by Rowley before a forward could get to the ball and was shown a red card.

With Anthony Cook in goal from the free kick awarded, Zuhdu’s effort was blocked by the wall and came to Tevan Allen whose drive was deflected behind for a corner.  From the corner down the right to the far post from Allen the ball was headed over by Zack Littlejohn and the final whistle sounded shortly after. 

Cray although not at their best won the match to move up to 6th on 60 points, three points behind Enfield Town in 5th place.  Hornchurch lead the table on 73 points three ahead of Bishop’s Stortford and Aveley with Canvey Island in 4th place on 65 points and Enfield Town on 63 points. 

Cray meanwhile are still very much in with a chance for promotion from the Isthmian Premier for the first time and next Saturday entertain 8th placed Horsham in a key game in the playoff race as the season nears its final month.    


Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Cook, Matt Weaire, Jalen Jones, Harrison Sodje, David Ijaha, Sam Wood, Nyren Clunis, Yahaya Bamba (Dajon Golding, 74), Dan Bassett (Marcus Sablier, 58), Tom Derry (Destiny Oladipo, 57):  Subs:  Rio Campbell, Jephte Tanga.

Att:  202