Cray Wanderers remain 10 points clear at the top of the Isthmian South-East but went down to only their third league defeat of the season as in-form Whitstable Town kept their run going with a 1-0 victory at a sunny Belmont Ground.  In a game of very few chances and with two good defences it was one moment of clinical finishing from Harry Stannard in the 69th minute for the home side which separated the teams.

On a warm afternoon in the pleasant and serene Belmont Ground the game perhaps unusually for a Wands game this season was a fairly lacklustre affair with Cray having the lions share of possession and did most of the pressing but they were held at bay by a resolute Oystermen side who were unbeaten in four games and well marshalled at the back by John Walker and Thomas Bryant. 

Perhaps the best chance of the game for Cray came after 15 minutes when after Tom Carlse was fouled on the left edge of the penalty area, Karl Dent’s ball into the box to the back post was met by Mitchell Nelson who got above Connor Sanders but headed over from four yards.

Then down the right, Junior Dadson did well to set up Tom Phipp inside the area but couldn’t get a firm connection to the ball and the chance went away.  Carlse fired over the top and a Dent corner from the left had to be clawed away by keeper Dan Eason.  Then Cray had a shout for a penalty when Ben Mundele appeared to be tripped just inside the penalty area but a free kick was given.

The game picked up in momentum before half time and after some rare hesitation at the back, Whitstable almost took the lead when Harry Stannard broke through but fired over the top.  This was followed by a decent shot from Ricky Freeman which was well held by Nick Blue.

Shortly before half time, Phipp and Sean Roberts combined to set up Joe Taylor for a shot from just inside the area which was well fielded by Eason.

There were few opportunities in the second half but Archie Johnson did well down the left to get a cross over close to the byline which was headed out by Taylor Fisher and came to Dent who turned and fired over from just inside the area.

Then for the home side Freeman and Stannard combined to find Miles Cornwell down the right of the penalty area and his cross shot was deflected behind for a corner.  For Cray following a throw in down the right the ball came to Mundele who curled a shot over from the edge of the area.

Just when it was looking like it was going to be heading for a goalless draw, Whitstable took the lead on 69 minutes when Cornwell made a run from midfield and slipped a ball through to Stannard down the left of the penalty area and tucked home a tidy finish from 14 yards.

Cray looked to respond soon after and Carlse set up Phipp who from 20 yards shot just over the crossbar.  However despite a fair bit of possession and pressure Whitstable held on fairly comfortably to make it four wins out of five and make Cray have to wait that bit longer to confirm promotion. 

Cray Wanderers without a win in three games lead the league table by 10 points from Hastings United and Horsham who have played one game more. Ashford United in 4th place are 11 points behind and face Cray at Hayes Lane in two weeks time.  The Wands are next in action on Sunday, 7th April at home to Greenwich Borough, 3pm.

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Tom Phipp, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Joe Vines, 85), Joe Taylor, Freddie Parker (Archie Johnson, H/T), Junior Dadson (Jordan Clarke, 60): Subs: Jerome Federico, Charles Etumnu

Att: 225