Cray Wanderers advanced into the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and a trip to Met Police on Saturday but only after an almighty struggle against Rusthall at the Jockey Farm Stadium.  On a hugely dramatic evening Cray seemed to be on the way with Michael Power’ early goal up to the hour mark.  However an own goal from Junior Dadson and some fine saves from home keeper Callum Christie meant the game went to extra time.

The drama didn’t end there with Cray retaking the lead with a Power penalty two minutes before the end of the first period of extra time but almost straight away Callum Gallie scored to make it 2-2 and the game went to penalties.  

Cray started the game strongly and Jerome Federico nipped in to steer a shot just wide of goal before the Wands took the lead in the 13th minute.

From their third corner of the game Dent’s excellent left wing cross into the heart of the six yard box was headed in by Michael Power from three yards for the perfect start.

Cray came close to adding to their lead throughout the first half with Bradley Pritchard shooting over from close range as did Aaron Rhule and then Tom Phipp saw a header hit the foot of a post.

Rusthall had to withstand a lot of pressure but nearly scored themselves when Sam Murray’s speculative shot drifted just wide but Cray led 1-0 at the break.

The second half was dramatic and Power headed over for Cray before Rusthall levelled with a goal out of the blue when Junior Dadson over hit a back pass which accelerated past Nick Blue and nestled in the back of the net.

Cray had chances to win the tie before extra time with Federico denied by keeper Callum Christie’s feet and Mitchell Nelson headed over in stoppage time.

Into extra time and Nelson came close again as did Pete Shaw for Rusthall who was denied by a brave block from Blue.

Cray though retook the lead two minutes before the end of the 1st period of extra-time when Power’s shot was spilled by Christie and following up Pritchard was upended by the keeper.  Power struck the penalty confidently to give Cray surely the passage to the next round.

Rusthall showed a lot of character and levelled again on the stroke of half time when a corner come to Paul Butler whose shot was turned into the net by Callum Gallie to make it 2-2.

There were no further goals in the second period of extra time so the game went to a penalty shoot-out.  There was drama at the start when Shaw fired over the top for Rusthall and then Power, Barney Williams, Pritchard and Nelson scoring for Cray and Steve Comacho, Butler and Robbie Bissett for Rusthall to make it 4-3 to Cray with Gallie taking the last kick for Rusthall which was well saved by Blue and Cray had advanced in dramatic fashion.

Cray now travel to Metropolitan Police on Saturday 8th September in the 1st Qualifying Round.   

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele (Junior Dadson, H/T), Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Phipp, Mitchell Nelson, Bradley Pritchard, Sean Roberts (Freddie Parker, 117), Karl Dent (Zak Henry, 104), Michael Power, Aaron Rhule (Malik Solebo, 65), Jerome Federico:  Subs: Jay Leader, Joe Vines      

Att: 274 

Meanwhile Cray Wanderers advanced in the FA Youth Cup on Monday night in another dramatic match beating Holmesdale 4-2 after Extra-Time  at Hayes Lane.  Twice Cray came from behind with Joe Barber scoring a hat-trick including a first half penalty and a Ronnie Payne goal two minutes into extra-time.  The Wands travel to Bridon Ropes or VCD Athletic in the 1st Qualifying Round.