Cray Wanderers went into the hat for the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round draw but had to settle for a replay after a dramatic late comeback from Ramsgate means a trip to Southwood Road on Wednesday night for the right to face Plymouth Parkway or Frome Town at home.

On a muggy day which saw an early afternoon downpour the scene was set for a competitive cup tie between two sides who each scored five against Isthmian Premier league leaders Chatham Town in the last couple of weeks and came into the game high in confidence.

For Cray there was one change to the starting lineup to the one which won 5-1 at Chatham Town last Saturday with Yahya Bamba returning following suspension in place of the cup-tied Gary Lockyer.  

Ramsgate began in lively fashion and came close to scoring in the 2nd minute when Taylor down the right saw his cross helped on and came to Alfie Paxman who curled a shot over the bar.

Cray began to exert pressure and from a free kick down the left of the area, Frankie Raymond’s cross was glanced wide of the right post by Yahya Bamba while for Ramsgate, Michael West shot well over.

Cray had the best early chance in the 9th minute when down the right Nyren Clunis’ cross to the far post was glanced across by Bamba and inside the six yard box George Porter’s header was claimed by keeper Tom Hadler.

The Wands had a half chance for Porter in the 21st minute when found by Lee Lewis down the right and drove his cross-shot across goal.  Then from a corner down the left, Clunis’ ball into the box came out to Tom Penfold who hit a volley which went well off target.

However in the 27th minute Ramsgate had the best chance of the half when Taylor found Benni Bioletti whose ball across from the right found Michael West in the area but steered his shot wide of the left post.  Then Alfie Paxman hooked a shot wide of the left post.

Cray began to exert some good pressure and Ijaha and Porter combined to set up Clunis who hit a fine shot but just cleared the bar and then Cameron Thompson lifted a shot over the bar.

After a ten minute lull the game picked up again before half time and Taylor set up Lee Martin who fired over before David Ijaha shot well over.  Then down the right of the area Lewis tried to squeeze in a shot at the near post but was well gathered by Tom Hadler but at the break there was all to play for

The second half began in lively fashion with Taylor getting through down the left but was denied by a fine save by Shaun Rowley’s legs while at the other end Clunis set up Lewis who shot wide.

Both sides were probing for a breakthrough and Cray came close when Lewis’ cross was headed wide by Porter. It was Cray who went in front in the 59th minute after Bamba won a corner down the left.  From the corner from Clunis the ball was played to Porter who flicked the ball across and Will Wood’s header forward was turned in the net by the head of Bamba from about 5 yards.

Cray now had their tails up and from another Clunis left wing corner the ball came to Cameron Black whose header was tipped over by Hadler.  From the corner, Raymond was set up for a shot over the top.

Ellis Brown who won the FA Trophy with Hornchurch in 2021 came on for his Wands debut for Thompson in the 63rd minute and six minutes later set up Clunis for a fine goal which his performance deserved with a crisp strike down the right to make it three goals in the last three games

Sam Wood and Anthony Cook added experience with appearances late on off the bench and Brown combined with Porter who played the ball through to the midfielder but Hadler did well to come and claim the ball.

Ramsgate were still in the game despite the two goal deficit and added late pressure and pulled a goal back in the 86th minute through a bit of a soft award for a penalty when Taylor went down under a challenge from Penfold who got up to comfortably converted from the spot.

Ramsgate still had plenty of time to score again and did in the 90th minute after Jack Paxman’s effort was deflected behind for a corner.  From the right wing corner from Alfie Paxman was played into the box and Taylor stole away from his marker to place a fine header into the net to make it 2-2.  

There despite six minutes of added on time neither team could force a winner and will now have to play again on Wednesday night.  It was certainly a dramatic tie and good entertainment value for the fans and promises to be another in the replay.                                                                                                                                                    

Cray Wanderers:

Shaun Rowley, Lee Lewis, Cameron Black, Tom Penfold, Will Wood, David Ijaha (Sam Wood, 76), Frankie Raymond (Anthony Cook, 81), Nyren Clunis, Yahya Bamba, Cameron Thompson (Ellis Brown, 63), George Porter:  Subs:  Archy Taylor, Jamie Mascoll, Jack Holland, Reggie Rye

Att: 258