Cray Wanderers marked their return to the Isthmian Premier by picking up a deserved point after a highly competitive and entertaining goalless draw at Kingstonian.

Despite at times the difficult, gusty conditions both sides set out in a positive manner looking to make the breakthrough with both goalkeepers in superb form and the two defences well drilled meant despite plenty of endeavours the scoresheet remained blank at the finish.  Lewis Carey on his league debut for Cray Wanderers made three key saves during the match including a top drawer stop to deny Dan Bennett’s close range header while at the other end Rob Tolfrey excelled to keep out Karl Dent’s curling goal-bound cross-shot.

Cray arrived at King George’s Field confident at doing well but were without three key players in the starting lineup with Jay Leader, Bradley Pritchard and Charlie Allen unavailable.  There were Cray Wanderers league debuts for Lewis Carey and wide players Tom Murphy and Andre Coker. 

The windy conditions meant the game perhaps was never going to be the high scoring affair expected but two good sides didn’t lack for trying.  Kingstonian shaded the early exchanges and Dan Bennett blasted a free kick well over.  Then the first real opening game fell to the K’s in the 7th minute when the lively Louie Theophanous latched onto Reece Hall’s pass and turned a shot just past the left post.

The first shooting chance for Cray came when the superb Tom Carlse down the left found Coker whose ball across came to Murphy who curled a shot fractionally wide of the left post.  Then Cray were unlucky when Taylor latched onto a ball forward from midfield and from just inside the area lofted the ball just over the crossbar.

From here Kingstonian perhaps shaded the rest of the first half and came close to scoring when Theophanous’ run forward ended with him being brought down just on the edge of the penalty area by Mitchell Nelson.  From the free kick, Bennett hit the ball over the top.

Defensively, Cray were excellent during this spell but were nearly breeched when Jerry Puemo found Theophanous whose shot was well saved by Carey with his legs and as the ball came out Bennett lifted the ball towards goal where Barney Williams perhaps hindered by the breeze hooked the ball across the six yard box and Fabio Saraiva couldn’t get enough of a connection to his volley and the ball went wide.

The second half saw the conditions get considerably windier and for the first ten minutes of the second half neither side could really get the ball under sufficient control and the game understandably perhaps became somewhat scrappy.

Around the hour mark though the game picked up again with a lively few minutes of action.  First for Cray, Lee Lewis found Karl Dent who played the ball out to Coker down the left, nipped into the area and put over a cross towards the far post where Murphy was unlucky to see his header go just wide of the left post.

Then after 62 minutes, Simon Cooper played a ball forward to Theophanous who held the ball up well against Nelson and from inside the area saw his shot pushed away brilliantly by Carey.

Straight up the other end Dent out on the right hoisted a viciously dipping cross-shot towards goal perhaps wind assisted but Tolfrey did superbly to get a hand to the ball to push the ball out.  Then Dent tested Tolfrey with a shot from 25 yards and Phipp set up Taylor who curled a shot just past the left post. 

In the 73rd minute came a key moment when Saraiva’s ball into the box was met by a close range header from Bennett which seemed to be goal bound but for a brilliant one handed stop by Carey pushing the ball over the top.

The last quarter of an hour saw a real competitive edge to the game but both defences were proving even harder to break down and the game ended in a draw which on reflection was the right outcome with Cray deserving a point Cray deserved to gain a point with a mature performance. 

Now Cray head to Hayes Lane for the next three league games starting against Folkestone Invicta who began with a 2-0 win against Worthing on Wednesday night, 7.45pm before taking on Corinthian Casuals on Saturday.                               

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp, Lee Lewis, Karl Dent, Freddie Parker, Tom Murphy (Aaron Rhule 67), Andre Coker, Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Jerome Federico, Charles Etumnu, Joe Vines, Grant Hall



Att: 277