Cray Wanderers advanced into the 1st Round of the FA Trophy after a resolute performance ended Needham Market’s unbeaten home record this season courtesy of Ellis Brown’s first half goal.

It was a game of few chances perhaps through two very strong defences but Cray just about edged a tight first half and led at the break when Ellis Brown converted Anthony Cook’s pass for his first Cray Wanderers goal to set up a 1st Round home tie with Chesham United on 28th October.

On a bright early October afternoon with only the slightest puff of breeze Cray were looking to build on Tuesday night’s 3-0 win at Concord Rangers and Neil Smith was able to name an unchanged starting lineup.  There was the bonus of seeing Frankie Raymond and Will Wood on the bench after missing the last few games through injury.

Needham Market, 2nd in the Southern League Premier Central had excelled at home in the early weeks of the season and defeated Peterborough Sports 3-0 on Tuesday in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round earning a trip to York City and also named an unchanged side.

On an excellent playing surface Cray began the game well and created the first real shooting chance in the 4th minute when Yahya Bamba was found by Jamie Mascoll and his shot was on target and pushed round the right post by Marcus Garnham.

The game then went through a spell of sparring but there was a blow for Cray when Gary Lockyer had to go off before the twenty minutes mark with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Frankie Raymond. 

In the 22nd minute, Needham Market threatened after a good spell of passing and Dylan Williams set up Jacob Lay for a shot from outside the area which Shaun Rowley got down well to save.

Then, three minutes later David Ijaha, who had an immense match in midfield made a strong run forward and hit a shot from twenty yards which was saved by Garnham.

This was followed by George Porter being found down the left of the area and his shot was deflected wide into the side netting for a corner.

Needham Market were passing the ball well and Williams played a pass out to Lay down the right of the area who shot over the bar.  Then Lay set up Tevan Allen for a shot that was blocked.  

In the 42nd minute came the decisive moment of the match when Porter and Cook combined to put Ellis Brown through and the former FA Trophy winner tucked a class finish past Garnham for his first Cray Wanderers goal.

Going into stoppage time Cray almost scored a second when Brown made a fine run from midfield out to the right of the area but was unlucky to see his cross-shot go just past the left post.

Then for Needham Market Kyle Hammond saw his cross-shot down the right pushed out by Rowley and following up Luke Ingram sent his header onto the roof of the net.

The second half began with some solid Needham Market pressure but often their attacks were repelled by the safe handling of Shaun Rowley and the two centre-halves Cameron Black and Jack Holland were able to soak up the pressure like a sponge.  Helped by the superb Anthoy Cook, Ijaha, Brown and Raymond Cray gave a very mature performance in a second half of few chances.

Needham Market came close before the hour when Allen’s effort was deflected across goal to Ingram who shot wide.

Cray did manage to break out and down the left Mascoll set up Bamba who curled a shot over the top from outside the box.

Needham Market won a couple of corners and one of those from Williams was headed wide by Daniel Morphew.

Cray continued to defend well and substitute Seth Chambers was denied inside the box by a fine tackle from Jack Holland and a Tommy Smith cross was headed out by Jamie Mascoll.

Going into the last few minutes, Needham Market looked to try to take the game to penalties and Chambers set up Allen for a shot blazed over.

Then down the right Ingram’s cross came to Chambers who stabbed the ball towards goal but Rowley got down to save.

This was followed by a quite remarkable clearance off the line from Black after Allen’s cross was met by a firm header from Kyle Hammond which looked to be going into the left corner by Black arched a header off the line and following up Chambers under pressure from an agile Rowley headed over the bar from a couple of yards.

The last action saw a Chambers effort blocked for a corner but Cray were able to hold on and advance into Monday’s 1st Round draw with a solid, resilient display against a good side and back to back clean sheets.

Cray next in the league are at home to league leaders Hornchurch on Sunday 15th October and go into it with more confidence on the back of two away wins.


Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Cook, Cameron Black, Jack Holland (Capt.), David Ijaha, Ellis Brown, Nyren Clunis (Sam Wood, 84), Yahya Bamba, George Porter (Will Wood, 90), Gary Lockyer (Frankie Raymond, 19):  Subs:  Lee Lewis, Reggie Rye

Att:  187