Cray Wanderers record 15 game unbeaten start to the Isthmian South-East season came to an end against third placed Horsham on a cold and rain-lashed afternoon at Culver Road with Rob O’Toole scoring a hat-trick for the home side.  This cut Cray’s lead at the top to eight points over Hastings United and Horsham.

Despite the conditions there was a lot to admire about the football on show with Cray twice falling behind in the first half hour to two O’Toole strikes with Ben Mundele’s classy leveller in between.  The rain seemed to get worse after the break but Cray began the second half well and drew level once again when Archie Johnson struck his second goal of the season on 53 minutes.  However, O’Toole glanced home a close range header just after the hour to restore the Hornets lead.  Cray looked to level once again but eight minutes from time, Charlie Harris sealed victory for Horsham with a superb run and strike from 20 yards.

Horsham began the game well and came close a couple of times to scoring in the first quarter of an hour and did so on 19 minutes when Cray lost possession and Tyrell Richardson-Brown’s ball into the box seemed to be wind affected and O’Toole reacted quickest to latch onto the pass, take the ball round Blue and rolled the ball into the net.  

It didn’t take long though for Cray to draw level and on 24 minutes, a good ball from Jay Leader down the left wasn’t cut out and Ben Mundele went through who cut into the area and fired a crisp finish into the bottom right corner of the net to for his fifth goal of the season.

On the half hour Horsham went back in front with another ball into the area which Charlie Harris got to and Blue did well to block but following up O’Toole rifled home the rebound despite Cray appeals for a foul in the buildup.  Horsham led 2-1 at the break with the players delighted to be heading to the warm and away from the rain into the changing rooms.

Cray started the second half well and on 53 minutes Cray levelled for a second time with a well worked goal ending with Mundele finding Joe Taylor who slipped a pass through to Archie Johnson down the left who from just inside the area finished expertly drilling a shot into the bottom right corner to make it 2-2.

It just seemed that Cray were on top when on 61 minutes fell behind for a third time when down the left Harvey Sparks did well to keep the ball in play close to the touchline and his ball towards the near post was met by the head of O’Toole who glanced a header into the net to claim a hat-trick.

For Cray, Karl Dent saw a shot deflected behind but Horsham had chances to increase their lead and Richardson-Brown was denied by a good save from Blue and Harris fired just over the top. 

However, on 82 minutes Horsham did score the fourth with Harris picking up the ball in midfield, made a good run forward and rifled home a superb shot into the top left hand corner of the net to seal the win.

Cray will look to return to winning ways next Sunday as Sittingbourne are the visitors to Hayes Lane for the first of two Christmas fixtures with a trip to Sevenoaks Town on 29th December.

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Barney Williams (Capt.), Archie Johnson (Lee Lewis, 80), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Bradley Pritchard, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent, Joe Taylor, Junior Dadson (Jerome Federico, 65), Ben Mundele (Malik Solebo, 86). Subs: Malik Solebo, Marcus Evans

Att: 150