Cray Wanderers moved back up to fourth place in the Isthmian South league table after a strong second half performance earned a victory against a Ramsgate side reduced to ten men for the last twenty minutes at Hayes Lane.    Michael Power claimed a hat-trick and his second match ball of the season taking his tally to 21 in all competitions.  Second half goals from Mitchell Nelson and Aaron Rhule helped move Cray to 37 points and four points behind second placed Corinthian Casuals.

The Wands 16 game unbeaten run came to an end at Braintree in the FA Trophy on Saturday but their league run stretched to ten games.  They began the game at a very cold Hayes Lane fairly slowly with Ramsgate having the better of the early exchanges.  The young Rams side saw an early effort from Daniel Lawrence rise just over the bar.  Then a misdirected header from Jay Leader found Rory Smith who seemed certain to score but was denied by a very good save from Nick Blue.

Chances for Cray in the first half were few with Aaron Rhule carving out an opportunity just before the 15 minute mark when he latched onto Barney Williams pass and shot just wide.  Then a Michael Frieter free kick out on the left found the head of Lea Dawson but diverted the ball just past the left post.

The game was seemingly heading for a goalless first half when a minute into stoppage time Cray won a corner down the right.  Frieter put over an excellent cross to the far post where Leader directed a powerful header towards goal and practically on the line Michael Power got the slightest touch to turn the ball into the net for his 19th goal of the season.

This was the spark Cray needed and came out in the second half on the front foot.  Cray were awarded a penalty in the 49th minute after Michael Power was upended in the box by Luke Wheatley and Power stepped up to score with supreme confidence from the spot.

Ramsgate though were lively in attack and pulled a goal back in the 51st minute when Smith took advantage of a rare mistake at the back to burst through and tucked the ball nicely under Blue to make it game on once again.

The visitors almost levelled in the 56th minute when an Alfie Paxman drive from twenty yards was blocked by Leader and the loose ball fell to Smith whose well hit shot was pushed over the top by Blue.

This was a key moment of the game as the Wands went back up the other end and in the 58th minute scored a third.  Aaron Rhule who had a tremendous second half saw a goal bound effort put behind for a corner.  From the left wing corner kick, Frieter’s ball into the heart of the penalty area was headed home by Mitchell Nelson for his third goal in four games.

Cray scored a fourth in the 63rd minute when Frieter’s free kick was pushed out by Daren Hawkes out to Brandon Scott who played the ball into the box for Rhule who turned two defenders before coolly slotting the ball into the net.

Ramsgate’s hopes were dented further two minutes later when Wheatley was sent off for a second bookable offence after bringing down Scott on the edge of the box.

The game was now effectively over as a contest and Cray scored a fifth goal five minutes from time when Jerome Federico beat the offside trap and laid the ball unselfishly across to Power who placed the ball past Hawkes from five yards to cap off a satisfying if chilly night for the Wands.

They next travel to third placed Carshalton Athletic on Saturday in what should be a mouthwatering contest.          

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader (Marcus Evans, 84), Mitchell Nelson, Lea Dawson, Dean Carpenter, Michael Frieter (Ralique Lawrence, 77) Michael Power, Aaron Rhule, Jerome Federico (Brandon Scott, 67):  Subs: Freddie Parker, Ralique Lawrence

Att: 132