Cray Wanderers brought their 2018 to a winning end as an 88th minute winner from Freddie Parker settled a tough contest with Sevenoaks Town at Greatness Park.  The win means Cray have an 11 point lead at the top of the Isthmian South-East going into 2019.

Cray had most of the possession and chances in the first half with Jerome Federico seeing a shot tipped onto the crossbar and Jay Leader and Tom Phipp came close with headers.  However the best chance of the half came to Sevenoaks when they were awarded a penalty five minutes before half time but Nick Blue did brilliantly to push aside Luke Coleman’s spot kick.  The second half was more of a slog and Sevenoaks were very resolute but Cray kept on going and after Mitchell Nelson’s header was pushed out by Ben Bridle-Card, substitute Freddie Parker followed up to steer the ball home and settle the game in the Wands favour.

On a rather grey but thankfully dry afternoon in the lovely scenic setting of Greatness Park, Cray began the game in slick fashion and had the first shot on goal after seven minutes when following a free kick 25 yards from goal, Karl Dent’s shot hit the wall and following up, Bradley Pritchard found Ben Mundele whose shot from 20 yards was gathered by former Wands keeper Ben Bridle-Card.  Three minutes later Cray came closest yet when Dent’s left wing corner was well delivered towards the far post and was headed wide by Jay Leader from five yards while for the home side Oliver Bennett fired wide.

On 18 minutes Cray were unlucky not to take the lead when after a strong run forward from Mundele he found Federico who took on Josh Dorling and cut into the area and from twelve yards saw a shot tipped over by Bridle-Card onto the crossbar and over for a corner.

For Sevenoaks Town, Luke Coleman fired wide from a free kick and from a swift breakaway Alec Fiddes cross from the right was turned behind by a Cray defender under pressure from Coleman.  On 33 minutes Cray came close to scoring again when Federico played the ball into the area to Dent who held the ball up well and from the edge of the six yard box played the ball across and Taylor just couldn’t turn the ball into the net. 

The home side looked like they had been presented with a great opportunity to take the lead five minutes before half time when after a move down the right the ball came to Bennett who was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area by Leader for the award of a penalty kick.  From the spot, Coleman stepped up and his shot was well hit but diving to the left Blue did excellently to push the ball away.

Before half time Cray came close again when Tom Phipp headed wide from another Dent corner kick

The second half saw Cray mostly in control but Sevenoaks stuck to their task well and there were fewer chances after the break.  Karl Dent came close twice with efforts while Leader glanced wide from a free kick.

For Sevenoaks Coleman fired over and tested Blue with a near post shot but Cray applied plenty of pressure in the final twenty minutes with Mitchell Nelson heading over from five yards from another quality Dent corner.

It looked like it wasn’t going to be Cray’s day when from a left wing corner from Pritchard with four minutes to go the ball was headed wide of the right post by the unlucky Leader.

However Cray kept on going and after an award of a free kick thirty yards from goal two minutes from time, the ball was worked down the right and Federico swung over a cross which was met emphatically by the head of Nelson which was saved well by the diving Bridle-Card pushing the ball away, Nelson helped the ball on and Parker from the edge of the six yard box placed the ball into the bottom left corner of the net and to break the deadlock.

Cray held on to a hard earned three points and a successful end to 2018 for Tony Russell’s side.  They are next in action on Sunday 6th January against in-form Three Bridges at Hayes Lane, 3pm

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Phipp, Karl Dent (Sean Roberts, 84), Joe Taylor (Freddie Parker, 80), Aaron Rhule (Daniel Uchechi, 56), Jerome Federico:  Subs: Malik Solebo, Marcus Evans

Att: 269