Cray Wanderers advanced to the 2nd Round of the FA Trophy and a tie at National South Weston-super-Mare after a dramatic match against cup specialists Chesham United last Saturday which finished in a 3-3 draw and held their nerve to win 5-3 on penalties

After a superbly respected minute’s applause for the late Sir Bobby Charlton the game got off to a fairly sedate start for the first five minutes with Chesham passing the ball around at the back.  The Wands though had the first opening in the sixth minute when Yahya Bamba was played through down the right of the area but was denied by a fine tackle by Lesley Duru whilst looking to shoot and went through to keeper Zaki Oualah.

Cray continued on the attack and Frankie Raymond found Bamba down the right whose looping ball towards goal perhaps looking to catch out Oualah just dropped onto the roof of the net.

Then Bamba played a ball out to Anthony Cook down the right and his ball towards the far post came to Ellis Brown but his effort was half hit and through to Oualah.  This was followed by Brown being provider setting up Nyren Clunis whose backheel went past the left post.   Then Clunis fired across goal after cutting in from the left.

Cray were looking the better side and in the 18th minute deservedly went ahead when Shaun Rowley found Bamba who played the ball through to Brown down the left of the area who fired home a very tidy finish into the bottom right corner for his third goal for the Wands and second in the competition for the former FA Trophy winner.

Chesham looked to counter and Bruno Andrade looking to chip Rowley from 35 yards fired well off target.

However, in the 22nd minute it was 2-0 when Oualah was closed down by Gary Lockyer and the keeper’s attempted clearance went to Brown who unselfishly laid the ball across to Lockyer to stroke home into a virtually empty net for his second goal in successive matches.

Chesham gradually looked to work their way back into the game but Cray were defending well.  The Generals did create one good chance when down the right Avan Jones laid the ball across to the near post for Lucas Sinclair but on the stretch turned the ball wide of the right post.

Cray ended the half well and Ijaha made a run forward and set up Bamba for a shot from outside the area which fizzed through to Oualah who made a smart save.

Cray began the second half much the same as they played in the first and played on the front foot.

In the 49th minute, Bamba made a positive run forward and with options laid the ball through to Nyren Clunis down the right who fired over.

Then Bamba down the right played a fine ball across to the far post for Brown but Jones got there first to put the ball behind for a corner.

From the corner from Raymond down the right, the ball came to Jack Holland who turned the ball wide.  For Chesham, T’Sharne Gallimore set up Bruno Andrade who shot over the top.

Chesham though just before the hour made a positive change as ex-Wand Rhys Murrell-Williamson came on for Lucas Sinclair and within three minutes got Chesham back in the game when down the right he cut inside and found space to drill home a shot into the bottom left corner.

Cray still looked the better side and a combination of Raymond, Brown and Clunis set up Lockyer who turned the ball over the bar.   

Then from a corner down the left, Raymond’s cross was glanced wide by Holland. Then from a free kick in a central position, Anthony Cook fired over the wall but into the arms of Oualah.

The game was going from end to end and Chesham almost levelled when Zak Joseph and Jordan Edwards combined to find Andrade down the left of the area but Rowley did well to come and make a smart block.

Soon after in the 74th minute Chesham were back on level terms when Joseph found space just outside the box and his shot perhaps took a slight nick and wrong footed Rowley and into the net.

Neither side really wanted penalties and sought a winner in the last quarter of an hour.  Andrade shot wide of the left post for Chesham and for Cray, Bamba hit a sweet shot which was held by Oualah.

In the 81st minute, Cray went back in front when from a free kick down the right, Raymond curled  a superb free kick which flicked the right post and into the left corner of the net for his third goal of the season.

Cray looked to see out the remaining minutes and looked in control but there was a sting in the tail as the game entered its final minute when from a corner down the left, Andrade found Gallimore who set up Murrell-Williamson who curled in a shot from outside the area which hit the back of the net and made it 3-3.

The Wands pressed for a winner and from a corner down the left, Raymond’s ball into the box was glanced by Lockyer towards goal and Oualah had to palm the ball over for another corner.

In the end though the game ended all square and with no extra-time the game would be decided on a penalty shoot-out.

The penalties were taken at the Glyn Beverly Stand end and the first seven penalties were expertly taken.  Cray stepped up first with Anthony Cook scoring followed by Andrade for Chesham, then goals from Ellis Brown and Frankie Raymond for Cray and Jordan Edwards and Ricardo German for Chesham made it 3-3.  Then, Lockyer scored for Cray to make it 4-3 and for Chesham, Murrell-Williamson saw his spot kick turned aside at the right post by Rowley.   This meant Cray just needed to score with their last kick and with a confident strike Bamba placed the ball wide of Oualah and the Wands had made it through to the 2nd Round after a monumental clash.  

Overall though against a side brimming with confidence this was possibly Cray’s best performance at home this season and in a match where perhaps at the start of the match the Wands were underdogs played very well and over the ninety minutes and merited the victory.

Cray will travel to Somerset to face Weston-super-Mare in the 2nd Round on Saturday 18th November.  The Wands next league game will be on Saturday 4th November at Wingate & Finchley, 3 pm ko.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Cook, Cameron Black (Sam Wood, 84), Jack Holland, Jamie Mascoll, David Ijaha, Ellis Brown, Frankie Raymond, Nyren Clunis,

Yahya Bamba, Gary Lockyer:  Subs:  Alex MacAllister, Tom Penfold, George Brooke, Reggie Rye

Att:  171