Cray Wanderers moved up to 17th and out of the bottom four in the Isthmian Premier after a pre-Fireworks Night victory at Wingate & Finchley.

On a chilly but thankfully mostly dry afternoon, Cray were looking to return to winning ways in the league after three games without a win and from the team which played Ebbsfleet United in the Kent Senior Cup on Tuesday night, into the side came David Ijaha, Nyren Clunis and Alfie Evans in place of Sam Wood, Reggie Rye and Tom Penfold who has joined Hastings United.  On the bench for the Wands were new signings Antonio Dembele who joined from Harrow Borough and defender Emmanuel Kwartchey on a month loan from Leyton Orient.   

The game started in a very scrappy fashion with the home side dominating possession early on but not really creating too much with the nearest when Ahmet Biler down the left found Alkeo Bani whose shot from outside the area was blocked.

Cray began to get more into it after fifteen minutes and a free kick from Anthony Cook played towards the near post came off the chest of keeper Ben Goode for a corner.  Then, Ellis Brown down the left cut into the area but his ball across had no takers in the box.

In the 28th minute, Cray came close when from a corner down the right from Frankie Raymond the ball into the area was helped on by Alfie Evans to set up Gary Lockyer for a shot on the turn which was well held by Goode.

Three minutes later Cray took the lead when after a speedy counter attack the ball came to Brown down the right and his ball across to the near post was turned in expertly by Lockyer for his fourth goal of the season.

Despite the hard work of going in front, the lead lasted on six minutes as Wingate & Finchley levelled with their first shot on target when from a free kick to the right of the area, Ruben Carvalho curled a classy strike into the left corner of the net.

Two minutes later though the game had a flashpoint moment when after the award of a Wands free kick down the right following a coming together of players, Bani appeared to raise his hand which led to a skirmish and was shown a red card for violent conduct. 

From the free kick, Anthony Cook’s cross to the far post was volleyed over by Jack Holland.

With the man advantage, Cray began the second half on the front foot and Evans saw a shot blocked and behind for a corner.  From the corner the ball came to Jamie Mascoll who also saw a strike deflected wide of the right post for another corner.

From the corner from the right, Raymond played a one-two with Brown and after cutting into the area fired in a near post shot with precision which beat Goode and into the net.

Cray almost scored a third shortly after when Yahya Bamba was played through and finished well but the flag was raised for offside.

That was only a temporary reprieve as in the 59th minute it was 3-1 when following the award of a free kick in a central position Anthony Cook curled the ball round the wall and through the dive of Goode and into the net.

Wingate & Finchley almost pulled a goal back when Mathew Achuba set up Anointed Chukwu who fired wide of the left post.

For Cray, a cross from the left was helped on by Lockyer for Brown whose shot was on target and held by Goode.

Cray were able to see out the remaining ten minutes without too many concerns and picked up their third away league win of the season.

Cray’s league position hadn’t really been reflected in performances so with the win, the Wands can start looking onwards and upwards.  There were some fine performances especially from Raymond, Evans, Ijaha and Holland at the back and Lockyer up front was very sharp and linked up well with Brown. 

The Wands will next be at home for a double header with Tooting & Mitcham United visiting in the London Senior Cup on Wednesday night, 7.45 pm and then in the league at home to Carshalton Athletic on Saturday, 11th November, 3 pm.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Cook (Emmanuel Kwartchey, 69), David Ijaha, Jack Holland, Jamie Mascoll, Alfie Evans, Ellis Brown, Frankie Raymond, Nyren Clunis, Yahya Bamba (George Porter, 81), Gary Lockyer (Antonio Dembele, 81): Sub: Hugo Webb

Att: 125