Cray Wanderers continue to power ahead at the top of the Isthmian South-East as the league leaders moved 16 points clear at the top after a highly polished victory against 2nd placed Horsham at Hayes Lane. 

A goal in each half, firstly a fine finish from Junior Dadson on 25 minutes from Jerome Federico’s cross broke the deadlock and after Karl Dent was upended in the box, Joe Taylor converted from the spot on 57 minutes to make it 2-0.  Horsham’s hopes were hampered when Dan Pearse was sent off on 66 minutes for a foul on Federico and Cray were able to see out the game and pick up another three points and for Nick Blue to keep his 13th clean sheet of the season.

Horsham are the only side so far this season to beat Cray in the league and with the match pitting the teams in 1st and 2nd place it had the feel of a title decider.

The Wands got off to a good start to the game with Ben Mundele making a tremendous run from the edge of his own box and made a strong run forward to just outside the penalty area and hit a well struck shot towards goal which was pushed away well by Josh Pelling in the Horsham goal in the 3rd minute.

It then became an intriguing cat and mouse for a short while but it was Horsham who almost went in front when good work down the right by Lee Harding ended with a ball into the box to Rob O’Toole who teed himself up for a shot from 10 yards but was denied by a fine save by Nick Blue with his feet.

This proved to be a key stop as on 25 minutes Cray took the lead when Bradley Pritchard found Jerome Federico who was becoming more and more an influence in the game sped down the right past two defenders into the area and his ball across to the far post was unselfishly left by Joe Taylor and fell to Junior Dadson who with some style fired into the net from 8 yards for his 11th goal of the season.

Cray began the second half strongly and on 57 minutes had the chance to put daylight between the sides when after a neat passing move with Federico and Pritchard finding Leader who played the ball out to Johnson down the left whose ball into the box fell to Dent who looked to find space for a shot but was brought down by Joe Shelley and a penalty kick was given.  From the spot, Taylor finished calmly to put Cray 2-0 up and was just reward for a positive start to the half.

Horsham’s hopes of a recovery were hampered on 66 minutes when Federico was fouled about 25 yards from goal by Dan Pearse and was shown a straight red card.

Horsham to their credit kept on going and almost pulled a goal back when Kieran Lavery’s ball out to the left to Harvey Sparks ended with a well struck shot from the edge of the area which was well held by Blue.

Cray though were able to comfortably see out the remaining minutes and Dadson saw a couple of efforts saved by Pelling and fired over, Leader saw a header cleared off the line and Archie Johnson shot just wide.

Cray Wanderers deserved to win the game and next travel to 4th placed Hastings United on Saturday looking to complete a double over Hastings and probably need just three more wins to seal promotion to the Isthmian Premier.

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Archie Johnson, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Bradley Pritchard, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Freddie Parker, 77), Joe Taylor, Junior Dadson, Jerome Federico (Tom Carlse, 70): Subs: Daniel Uchechi, Donnell Anderson, Joe Vines

Att: 209