Cray Wanderers made it a hat-trick of Sunday FA Cup wins this season to advance to the 3rd Qualifying Round for the first time since 2012-13 and made it ten goals in two matches to cap off a satisfying week in style with victory against a ten man Soham Town Rangers. 

Joe Taylor claimed the match ball with his first hat-trick for Cray with two first half goals taking his total for the season to 11, the first on 18 minutes after an electric start from the Wands.  A key moment came in the 37th minute when Erkan Okay was sent off for Soham Town for what was deemed a deliberate handball to prevent Taylor scoring and a penalty was awarded.  Keeper Josh Pope who had an outstanding game saved the penalty but Taylor followed up to knock in the rebound. 

The second half saw a feast of attacking and Harry Hudson scored his first senior goal for Cray four minutes after the break, tapping in after Taylor’s effort was saved.   Tom Murphy blasted in a superb fourth goal in the 66th minute curling in from 25 yards and fifteen minutes from time, Tom Carlse’s cross was turned in by Taylor for the hat-trick.  Soham Town kept on going and pulled back two goals in the later stages through Toby Andrews and Tom Newman but Cray had done more than enough to progress through to Monday lunchtime’s draw. 

Cray came out of the blocks very quickly and within the first 8 minutes had efforts on goal.  Karl Dent hit a half volley from 25 yards was well fielded by Josh Pope.  Then a ball forward from Lewis Carey found Joe Taylor who held the ball up well and found Murphy who from 14 yards fired in a shot which Pope, the older brother of Burnley and England goalkeeper Nick Pope did well to push aside.   This was followed by Taylor’s deflected shot being held by the keeper and also saved Murphy’s effort on the line.

After a brief respite, Cray returned to the attack and on 18 minutes had a goal to show for their enterprise.  The ball was worked down the left and Lee Lewis found Murphy who played the ball into the area to Taylor who placed the ball with precision and accuracy low into the net.

Then Cray were denied by one of many fine saves from Pope when the ball was worked down the left and Pritchard found Taylor whose ball across came to Ben Mundele who from eight yards seemed destined to score but Pope made a brilliant stop possibly with his face to keep the ball out.  On the half hour, Dent hit a shot from 25 yards which Pope saved down at the right post.

In the 37th minute it seemed Cray would score again when Mitchell Nelson ball forward found Taylor who cut into the area, took out two defenders and the keeper with a neat turn but as he shot, a prostrate Erkan Okay stuck out a hand to block the ball away and a penalty was given and a red card for the midfield player.  From the spot, Taylor’s kick was well pushed out by Pope but following up quicker than anyone else, turned the ball into the net to make it 2-0 and Soham’s now had a lot to do to save the game.

The second half saw even more quality play and in the 49th minute, Cray scored a third when Mundele found Taylor who did well to squeeze past a couple of defenders to get into the area and his effort was blocked by Pope but the ball went loose in the six yard box and Harry Hudson was on hand to score his first senior goal.

More chances came and Murphy shot over again and Carlse set up Taylor who was denied by a save from Pope’s foot.  Then Lewis fired wide from 30 yards.  Soham sought a goal to give them something to grab on to and a neat build up almost led to a goal when Matty Allan played Tom Newman down the right of the area and his near post shot was well saved and held by Lewis Carey.  Then Taylor was denied by a hat-trick by two more smart saves by the overworked Pope.

Another goal was massively overdue and came in the 66th minute when Lewis’s shot was pushed out by Pope and followed up by blocking Taylor’s shot.  The ball came out to Barney Williams who found Lewis who in turn set up Murphy who from 20 yards hit a screamer which flew past Pope and into the top left hand corner to make it 4-0.

Shortly after came another top drawer save from Pope when from a right wing corner Freddie Parker’s cross to the far post was met by a terrific header from Mitchell Nelson but his goalbound effort was pushed one handed over the bar.

In the 75th minute came the fifth goal for Cray and Taylor completed a hat-trick and made it seven consecutive games that he has scored when Mundele found Carlse down the left who then cut to the edge of the area and put over an enticing cross into the six yard box and Taylor was there to turn the ball in to the net.

Soham though despite being down to ten men and five goals down could easily have jacked it in and could have got very messy but they stuck at it and pulled a goal back in the 78th minute when a ball was played forward and nicked off Nelson into the path of Toby Andrews who found space down the right of the area to fire into the bottom left to make it 5-1.

Cray almost scored a sixth when Carey’s ball forward found Taylor who looked like he would score a fourth but was denied by a good block from Pope.  Then Pope excelled once again when Jerome Fedrico and Parker combined to set up Charles Etumnu who hit an explosive shot but Pope did well to get both hands to the ball and turn aside for a corner.

With two minutes to go, Soham grabbed a second goal when Allan found Auger and he played a fine pass through to Newman who down the left of the area did well to fire into the bottom right and it was 5-2.

The match finished with Cray advancing to the 3rd Qualifying Round and have done so in style with 12 goals in their three games played and now can travel to Haringey Borough in a tie to be played on 5th October.  

The Wands can now concentrate on keeping up their solid start to the league season with back to back home games against East Thurrock United on Saturday and then the following Wednesday against Bowers & Pitsea. After three positive and powerful performances against Haringey Borough, Bishop’s Stortford and Soham Town Rangers in the last 8 days Cray Wanderers look to have truly arrived this season and if it carries on in this vein it is going to be quite an enjoyable ride.           

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Mitchell Nelson, Harry Hudson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard (Charles Etumnu, 69), Ben Mundele, Tom Murphy (Jerome Federico, 74), Karl Dent (Freddie Parker, 55), Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Andre Coker, Geofrey Okonkwo, Charlie Allen, Grant Hall

Att:  184