Cray Wanderers advanced to the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2013 after a hard fought victory against Bedfont Sports at Hayes Lane.  Cray got off to an electric start and went in front after 6 minutes with Lee Lewis’s first senior goal for the club.  It looked like the Wands had a degree of comfort when Joe Taylor prodded home from close range in the 26th minute. 

However a gutsy Bedfont side stuck to their task and pulled a goal back in the 76th minute when skipper Joe Jackson headed home and a fine save from Lewis Carey to deny Didi Ndombe towards the end prevented what could have been a replay but Cray saw out the remaining minutes.

Cray were very clinical and professional in the last round against Hythe Town and looked like they were heading for the same again after coming out the traps very quickly.  In the opening minute, Cray won a corner down the left from which, the ball came to Lee Lewis who shot just wide.  This was followed by Mitchell Nelson finding Tom Carlse who fired just wide from 25 yards while shortly after, Jerome Federico’s right wing cross was flicked just past the left post by Joe Taylor.

A goal was on the cards and arrived in the sixth minute after a sharp passing move the ball was worked down the right and Federico’s ball across found Lewis who from just outside the area found space to let fly and his shot crashed past David Trivino and into the net for his first Cray Wanderers first team goal.

Shortly after Carlse fired just over once again and Joe Taylor drove an effort into the side netting while Bedfont were looking to get things going and Jayden Clarke shot over from 20 yards while the lively John Roberts made a run forward and his shot was held by Lewis Carey. 

In the 26th minute, Cray scored a second when from Freddie Parker’s right wing corner, the cross towards the far post was flicked on by Hudson towards goal and Taylor was on hand to head the ball home from about 3 yards.

Cray were looking lively going forward and almost scored a cracking third goal on the half hour when Carlse found Murphy down the left and hit a superb strike from 25 yards which thudded back off the crossbar and out to safety.

Bedfont nearly pulled one back when from a free 20 yards from goal down the left, Roberts shot at the near post was pushed out by Carey.  Shortly after, Cray almost grabbed another when Fedrico cut in from the right and drove a shot towards goal which was well held by Trivino. For Bedfont John Roberts was a handful and did well to work his way into the area and his near post shot was once again pushed away by Carey.

Before the break both sides could have scored.  Firstly, for Bedfont a neat pass by Veron Kokurinkov found Clarke inside the area but was denied by a brave block by the legs of Carey.  Then Bedfont had a let off when Taylor’s shot was only half pushed out by Trivino and following up Pritchard looked certain to score but his effort was blocked for a corner.

Early in the second half Cray almost got a third goal which would probably have sealed the tie when Federico down the left found Carlse who burst into the area and was unlucky to see his shot blocked by Trivino.  Bedfont were playing very well in the second half and Didi Ndombe found Roberts who broke into the right of the area, took the ball past Carey but the angle was tricky and his shot went into the side net.

Bedfont were playing very well in the second half and with nothing to lose were beginning to threaten a comeback and Ndombe found Roberts who broke into the right of the area, took the ball past Carey but the angle was tricky and his shot went into the side net.  For Cray, Charlie Allen volleyed wide from Ben Mundele’s cross who was making his return for Cray following re-signing from Bury.

However, Bedfont never gave up and on 76 minutes pulled a goal back.  After a corner was won down the right, Clarke’s cross was flicked into the area and Joe Jackson was on hand to steer a header into the bottom right corner from 14 yards.

The game threatened to be end to end and Andy Ali set up Jayden Clarke who shot wide from 25 yards for Bedfont while for Cray, Mundele down the right squared the ball across to Pritchard who from the edge of the six yard box saw his shot bravely blocked by Trivino. 

Bedfont though had a great chance to grab a draw when with four minutes to go, Darryl Sanders put Ndombe away down the left of the area and looked certain to score but Carey did superbly to push the ball away brilliantly and away from goal before a Bedfont player could follow up.  Finally with Cray looking to hang on Bedfont won a free kick in a good position, 25 yards outside the area and from the free kick, Ali’s shot was parried away by Carey and Cray could breathe a sigh of relief.

The Wands now take their place in the 2nd Qualifying Round and face Isthmian North Soham Town Rangers at Hayes Lane on a game to be played on Sunday 22nd September.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Mitchell Nelson, Harry Hudson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico (Ben Mundele, 65), Tom Murphy, Freddie Parker (Charlie Allen, 59), Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Tom Phipp, Charles Etumnu, Geoffrey Okonkwo, Grant Hall

Att: 225