Cray Wanderers reached the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy for the second time in four seasons after an impressive victory against a tough Moneyfields side who contributed much to a terrific cup tie.  The Wands will now be away to joint leaders of the National League South Braintree Town on Saturday, 25th November.

The two sides had drawn 1-1 at Moneyfields last Tuesday and the prize of Braintree away was a tantalising one for both sides.

Cray perhaps shaded the opening exchanges and Brandon Scott was denied by a block from keeper Stephen Mowthorpe and following up Michael Frieter stabbed the ball wide.  Then Michael Power cracked a superb shot against the left hand post.

This led to a Cray corner and the Wands took the lead after 15 minutes when Frieter’s cross to the far post was turned in by Mitchell Nelson from eight yards.

Moneyfields though were never out of the tie and almost levelled just after the half hour when top scorer Ryan Pennery was denied by a fine one handed save by Nick Blue who pushed the ball over the bar.  Then Blue did well to turn behind a free kick from Sam Pearce as Cray led 1-0 at the break.

The game was played in gusty conditions and the second half seemed to favour the visitors and the Hampshire side levelled after 51 minutes when Pearce played a ball forward from midfield down the right and Blue came out to clear but seemed to hesitate and Pennery took advantage and from a difficult angle out on the right lofted the ball into the net.

Cray though are a resilient side and in the 55th minute went back in front when Ben Mundele who had a terrific game for Cray down the right set up Frieter who hit a shot from which took a slight deflection which took the ball past Mowthorpe to make it 2-1.

Moneyfields almost made it 2-2 twenty minutes from time when Pennery set up Daniel Wooden inside the area who delicately clipped the ball past Blue but Nelson was able to dramatically clear off the line for a corner.

From the corner in the 71st minute, Cray broke away at great pace and Brandon Scott charged from halfway into the area and was brought down by Joe Ford for a penalty.  Michael Power dispatched the penalty with great confidence.

Despite the two goal advantage Cray were never totally comfortable and Moneyfields hit the woodwork three times in quick succession.  Firstly from another free kick on the edge of the area, Pearce’s strike came back off the right hand upright.   Then Jake Raine was denied a goal when a terrific strike thudded back off the crossbar and following up Wooden struck the post.

Cray though poured forward with great authority and confidence and Power was unlucky when he hit the post for the second time four minutes from time.  Moneyfields never totally recovered from that and following up Aaron Rhule was upended by Louie Martin for the second penalty of the night.  Power scored once again to take his tally for the season to 18 and for the competition to 7.

This was a tremendous win for Tony Russell’s side against a team which are unbeaten in the Southern League East and for which big things are expected in the coming years.  Cray can now go into Saturday’s game against Braintree high in confidence but also in the role of underdogs which could play to their advantage    

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Zak Henry (Marcus Evans, 83), Dean Carpenter, Michael Frieter, Michael Power (Freddie Parker, 88), Brandon Scott (Ralique Lawrence, 79), Aaron Rhule:  Subs: Jerome Federico, Kyron Lightfoot

Att:  139