Cray Wanderers continued their solid start to the Isthmian Premier league season with a point from an entertaining game with East Thurrock United high on quality and goalmouth incident. 

Cray, now unbeaten in 9 matches in league and cup came from behind for the second home league game in a row just after half time when Billy Crook got the final touch to turn the ball in off a post.  However, Cray showing great resolve and determination drew level fifteen minutes from time when Tom Murphy finished with style from Joe Taylor’s pass. 

On a grey, murky day the game got off to a brisk start, and perhaps the visitors just shaded the opening quarter of an hour but Cray had the first real shooting chance in the 3rd minute when Karl Dent set up Ben Mundele for a shot from shy of 25 yards which was well held by Jack Giddens, who would have an inspired afternoon.    East Thurrock had their first attempt when after a decent passing movement, Ben Marlow set up Andy Pugh for a shot on the turn which was held by Lewis Carey.

The best early chance fell to East Thurrock when Pugh was played through, into the area down the left and looked to lift the ball over Carey but the Cray keeper made a good stop to turn the ball past the post for a corner.

After this spell from East Thurrock, Cray began to get on top and were unlucky not to score in the 21st minute when Bradley Pritchard played in Tom Murphy who from just inside rolled the ball fractionally wide of the right post.

Three minutes later, Cray came closer still when from a free kick out on the right, Dent’s ball towards the back post found Mitchell Nelson who hit a smart volley which was heading into the top right corner but Giddens did very well to push the ball over the bar.   A minute later from another free kick, 25 yards out, Murphy drove a shot wide of goal.

  Then, Taylor set up Dent for a shot from outside the box which flew into the arms of Giddens.  This was followed from a corner down the left, Dent’s cross was met by the head of Harry Hudson but was well held on the line by Giddens.

The second half began with East Thurrock on the front foot and caught Cray rather cold around 40 seconds into the second half.  The ball was worked down the left and Sean Bonnet-Johnson and Frankie Merrifield combined to find Ayodeji Olukoga who sent over a ball into the box which Pugh diverted towards goal with Billy Crook on hand to turn the ball into the net in off the right post.

Far from being a set-back Cray redoubled their efforts and nearly levelled soon after when Mundele’s ball across from the right was flicked just off target by the diving Taylor.

Cray received a blow when Mitchell Nelson had to go off with an injury on the hour.  Despite this the Wands continued on the front foot and came closest yet to scoring when Tom Carlse made a terrific run down the left from the half way line into the area and found Taylor who turned and saw his shot seemingly goalbound saved well by Giddens pushing the ball out and following up, Charlie Allen lashed a shot against the top of the crossbar.

In the 66th minute Cray came close again when Barney Williams who also had a fine game set up Dent, down the right of the area but drove a shot into the side net.

The Wands did have a bit of a let off when a ball forward from Crook was met by a header back from Hudson which was a little short and Merrifield nipped in and as Carey advanced dinked a shot just wide of the right post.

A goal for Cray had to come and it did in the 75th minute when Williams played a super pass through to Taylor inside the box who unselfishly laid the ball across to Murphy who with great precision placed the ball wide of Giddens and into the bottom right corner of the net.

East Thurrock had a decent spell shortly after the goal winning a handful of corners and from one of those Crook’s ball across headed goalwards by Ben Marlow but Hudson did well to head the ball over the bar for a corner.

In the 83rd minute Cray came close to taking the lead when after a patient buildup, the ball came to Jerome Federico down the right who played the ball into the area to Pritchard whose near post shot was pushed out well by Giddens.  Cray kept on searching for the winner with East Thurrock perhaps content for a point and Dent set up Murphy for a rasping drive which narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Just as the game was entering three minutes of added time, Cray had the last chance as Allen found Taylor whose shot was deflected past the post for a corner.

There were no further goals but Cray can look back on a good performance against a tough side and stand ninth in the Isthmian Premier after 8 matches on 11 points.  Cray are in action at Hayes Lane again on Wednesday evening when Bowers & Pitsea are the visitors, 7.45pm.

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.) (Jerome Federico, 80), Tom Carlse, Mitchell Nelson (Geofrey Okonkwo, 59), Harry Hudson, Bradley Pritchard, Ben Mundele, Andre Coker (Charlie Allen, 58), Karl Dent, Tom Murphy, Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Freddie Parker, Emanuel Oduguwa

Att:  174