Cray Wanderers created a piece of club history as Neil Smith’s side confirmed an Isthmian Premier playoff place for the first time as a point gained at Haringey Borough means the Wands will visit Hornchurch on Wednesday 26th April, 7.45 pm in the Semi-Final. The winners will face Canvey Island or Aveley in the final on Monday 1st May.

Cray began the day in 5th place on 73 points and unbeaten in eight games, two clear of 6th placed Lewes but with a better goal difference of +4.  Lewes did their bit of the bargain winning 3-1 at playoff bound Canvey Island while Cray who led two nil after 37 minutes through goals from Dan Bassett and Tom Derry drew 2-2 following a Haringey Borough comeback but did enough to claim the final playoff place.

A bright afternoon interspersed with occasional grey skies saw a strong Cray Wanderers travelling support swell a decent final day of the season crowd in North London with free entry for all fans a great incentive.

The first half began fairly even but Cray made the first signal of intent by taking the lead after 12 minutes.  The ball was worked patiently down the right and Jephte Tanga exchanged passes with Nyren Clunis to break into the area and turned past Scott Mitchell to lay the ball across to Tom Derry who was denied by a smart save from Max Ovenden. However, following up an unmarked Dan Bassett was on hand to score.

Haringey looked to bounce back and Georgios Aresti set up Olu Durojaiye who curled a shot just over the top from outside the box.  Then following a free kick ex-Wand Erald Desa and Matthew Young combined down the right and Bassett did well to get a tackle in to concede a corner.

The Wands had to make an early change when Freddie Carter had to go off with a knock and was replaced by Anthony Cook.

For Cray, Dajon Golding set up Nyren Clunis for a shot that was blocked as the game seemed to go by at a brisk pace.

In the 37th minute Cray looked to have put daylight between the teams with a second goal.  From a free kick down the right of the area, Sam Wood’s ball into the box was met by an emphatic header from Tom Derry for his twelfth goal of the season.

This led to a strong effort from Haringey in the closing minutes of the half.  Firstly, O’Donoghue found space to hit a shot over the bar.  Then, a fine strke from Aresti required a fine stop form Shaun Rowley who turned the ball round for a corner.

In the 44th minute, Haringey scored the goal they were threatening with a clever finish from Matthew Young down the right who fired in a cross-shot which found its way into the net to make it 2-1.

There was still time for a chance for both sides during six minutes added on time with Haringey almost levelling when Desa volleyed wide of the left post from a decent position.  At the other end, Bassett cut inside from the left but his shot was gathered by Ovenden.

News was coming through at half time that Lewes were leading 1-0 at Canvey Island so the Wands were still slightly in the box seat going into the second half.

Haringey had a chance almost straight away to level when Desa was played in down the right but shot wide despite Derry being down with a knock.  Cray then brought on Yahaya Bambe for Dajon Golding as Cray were looking to take the sting out of the game.

However, they didn’t have to wait long to level with a quality strike from substitute Jorge Djassi-Sambu who found space to the right of the area to smash a shot into the top left corner to make it 2-2.

Cray threatened when Bamba down the left set up Clunis for a shot that was blocked.

The game at Canvey Island suddenly became 3-1 to Lewes which meant added pressure on Cray and Haringey, still posing a threat came close again when Young down saw an effort pushed out by Rowley.

For Cray from a free kick, Bamba found Sam Wood who fired over from distance.  Then, Cook broke forward and saw his attempted lob held by Ovenden.

Haringey continued to look lively and certainly came out of the game with a lot of credit, looked the more likely near the end and Young came closest with a shot across goal late on.  Despite some late pressure there were no further goals and Cray saw out the four minutes of injury time to secure the point they needed and with no more goals at Canvey Island for Lewes, Cray stayed the course over 42 games to earn a crack at promotion to the National South for the first time via the playoffs.

The Wands will now head to Hornchurch who finished second in the table and beat Cray twice during the season but league games will now turn to one off cup ties and the playoffs are a lottery and the Wands now have a ticket for at least two more historic games.  


Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Jephte Tanga, Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter (Anthony Cook, 21), Sam Wood, David Ijaha, Nyren Clunis, Dajon Golding (Yahaya Bamba, 56), Danny Bassett, Tom Derry (Destiny Oladipo, 84):  Subs:  Marcus Sablier, Rio Campbell.

Att:  805


Att: 805