Cray Wanderers gained their first victory of the 2019-20 Isthmian Premier season and their first in the top flight since March 2014 with victory over Margate at Hayes Lane.  Cray were impressive in the first half and led through a Freddie Parker strike on the half hour and a Joe Taylor penalty five minutes later after Bradley Pritchard was upended in the box.

Margate were a different side after the break and reduced the arrears seven minutes after the restart through Noel Leighton close range header.  Cray though regrouped and restored the two goal advantage in the 73rd minute with Parker scoring his second from Lee Lewis’ cross.  A nervy final few minutes were in store when Dan Johnson pulled a goal back for Margate in stoppage time but Cray held on to the win which moves them up to 8th in the league table albeit having played a game more than the other leading clubs.      

The Wands started with two points from the opening three points and the feeling was with the injuries and perhaps no luck in front of goal that surely the tide would turn in Tony Russell’s sides favour before long.

There was an early blow for Cray though when Coker picked up an early knock and was replaced after just six minutes by Aaron Rhule.

The first real chance of the game fell to Cray in the 8th minute when a ball was played forward to Joe Taylor down the right of the area and held the ball up, took on a defender and from just outside the area fired a shot wide of the right post.  Then after a patient buildup, the ball was worked down the left and Jerome Federico found Rhule who drove in a shot which was held at the near post by keeper Jon Miles.

Margate were tidy in possession and in the 17th minute fashioned their first real opening when Kudas Oyenuga found Adem Ramadan down the left who rode a couple of challenges and found himself inside the penalty area and saw his shot go wide of the left post.  

A goal was looking on the cards and duly arrived on the half hour following a steady spell of possession the ball was worked down the right and Federico and Barney Williams combined to find Bradley Pritchard, His ball across into the area found Taylor who set up Freddie Parker, who took a couple of touches to find space to shoot and from 10 yards placed a shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net for his first goal of the season.

Five minutes later, Cray had the chance to put some daylight between the sides when again down the right, the excellent Lee Lewis found Williams who laid the ball across to Pritchard who was tripped before he could shoot by Noel Leighton and a penalty kick was awarded.  From the spot, Taylor expertly placed the ball into the bottom right also getting off the mark for the season.

There was a key moment just after the restart when the dangerous Oyenuga from the edge of the box hit a wickedly swerving shot which was brilliantly pushed round the left post by Carey.

Margate though looked a different side after the break and pulled a goal back when down the left, Oyenuga again involved found Ramadan who whipped over an inviting cross where Leighton was on hand to guide the ball past Carey and make it game on once again.

Margate threatened when Carey’s kick out went as far as Oyenuga who from 25 yards fired a shot back towards goal but thankfully straight to the keeper. 

It looked like the Wands had weathered any Margate storm and after 73 minutes grabbed a third goal with a goal well-crafted with youth very much to the fore.   Barney Williams made a run forward and found Parker, then Pritchard who slipped a pass to Lewis who broke down the right and laid a superb, inviting cross which was despatched emphatically by Parker from 12 yards to make it 3-1.

Cray were now back in the ascendancy and Tom Murphy found Pritchard who hit a well struck shot from distance which was fielded by Miles.  Then Cray almost scored another terrific goal when Lewis burst forward and found Parker who from the edge of the D and seeking a hat-trick curled in a shot which was excellently pushed behind by Miles for a corner.

The game looked to be done and dusted but Margate showed plenty of character and Jay Saunders’ side made it a nervy finish for Cray when in the first minute of three added on minutes scored a second goal when following a corner down the left, Ramadan drifted into the area and his shot was blocked by a combination of defender and goalkeeper and the ball fell loose to Dan Johnson who made no mistake from 10 yards.

However, there wasn’t sufficient time to complete a turnaround and Cray Wanderers saw out the game to pick up well merited win and register their first win in the Isthmian Premier since a 2-1 win at Billericay Town in March 2014. 

Now Cray can take a brief break from league action on Sunday and meet Hythe Town in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup for their third derby game of the season.


Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse (Charlie Allen, H/T), Mitchell Nelson, Harry Hudson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico, Andre Coker (Aaron Rhule 6, Tom Murphy, 56), Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Charles Etumnu, Geofrey Okonkwo


Att:     242