Cray Wanderers remain 13 points clear at the top the Isthmian South-East after their 11th away win of the season as Karl Dent’s first half strike was enough to see Cray win at Phoenix Sports for the first time. 

Cray had plenty of the ball first half and a handful of chances and deserved to go in front with Dent’s first goal of the season just after the half hour. 

The second half was a scrappier affair but Dent was twice denied another goal by good saves from Steve Phillips while at the other end, Kenny Aileru turned the ball wide of an open goal.  Cray though were able to hold on to pick up another big three points with nine more games to go and a big match against 2nd placed Horsham at Hayes Lane next Saturday.

The Wands started well and Ben Mundele made a good run forward into midfield and he set up Archie Johnson who shot over the top from the edge of the area.

Then Dent who was having more influence as the half wore on down the right of the penalty area worked his way into the area and his effort was deflected into the side netting for a corner.  Then Junior Dadson down the left cut inside and his cross shot was pushed away well by Phillips.

On 25 minutes, Joe Taylor did well to hold the ball up on the edge of the area and was unlucky to see his shot go just wide of the left post.   Shortly after Taylor again held off three challenges inside the area, turned and his shot was gathered by Phillips.

A goal was coming and duly arrived on 32 minutes, when Mitchell Nelson's ball forward was held up by Taylor outside the area, and Dent picked up a loose ball off a Phoenix defender to find space for himself and placed a shot into the bottom left corner for a goal he has deserved for his recent fine displays.

This seemed to rouse Phoenix who broke down the right and Bird put a ball across to the far post which no-one could get to and was half cleared out to Jeff Duah-Kessie whose shot from 12 yards was met by a fine blocked save by Nick Blue.

The second half saw Bradley Pritchard down the left find Dent inside the area and his effort was deflected behind for a corner.  Cray then had a decent shout for a penalty when Pritchard down the left looked to have been bundled over by Jack Hopkins but appeals were waived away.

Then Jerome Federico cut in from the right and from the edge of the area fired in a shot which Phillips got down to save. 

The Phoenix keeper was certainly kept busy and did very well to come and make a smart save to deny Dent from Federico’s pass coming out to block from 12 yards. 

Then came a bit of a let off for Cray as a ball forward found Kenny Aileru and as Blue came out to meet him turned the ball towards goal and the ball went wide of the left post with Duah-Kessie unable to turn the ball in under pressure from a great defending from Mitchell Nelson.

Then Sean Roberts played a superb pass through to Freddie Parker down the left of the area who took the ball round Phillips but the angle was a little tight and put his shot past the left post.   This was followed by Parker testing Phillips with a low shot from Johnson’s pass.

Phoenix almost grabbed a goal as the game entered stoppage time when Duah-Kessie down the right worked his way to the byline and his ball found Kweku Ansah whose shot was well saved by Blue at the near post.  In the closing minutes Dent came close to a second when his run into the box ended with another good save from Phillips turning the ball behind.

Cray though had done enough to win with a professional performance and next Saturday take on 2nd places Horsham, the only side in the league to beat Cray at Hayes Lane which should be a great occasion.

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Archie Johnson, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.) (Sean Roberts, 69),  Bradley Pritchard, Tom Phipp, Karl Dent, Joe Taylor, Junior Dadson, Jerome Federico (Freddie Parker, 69): Subs: Daniel Uchechi, Joe Vines, Donnell Anderson

Att: 159