Cray Wanderers moved into the playoff places in the Isthmian Premier for the first time this season after a clinical display of finishing helped defeat a ten man Cheshunt side and make it five unbeaten in the league.

The match was dedicated to the memory of club legend Dave Jackson who passed away on Friday and Joe Taylor claimed his second hat-trick of the season with all three goals coming in an eight minute spell in the second half. 

The game began with a bang with loanee debutant Joel Rollinson firing Cray in front after just 38 seconds but six minutes later, Ryan Moss levelled from the spot for Cheshunt.  However, Cheshunt’s hopes were dealt a blow when Giuseppe Re was sent off after 22 minutes for a late challenge on Barney Williams and were up against it for the rest of the game.  Lee Lewis who produced another mature and composed display in midfield produced two cracking strikes from distance in the 40th and 54th minutes to give Cray comfort in the game.  Taylor stepped up with a classy three goal blast between the 59th-67th minutes to ultimately seal the game and to take Cray up to fifth place on 25 points.

On another grey and eventually very wet afternoon Cray were looking to continue the momentum of last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Worthing at Hayes Lane and began brightly. After just 38 seconds Cray were in front when after some neat passing, Joe Taylor after a one-two played in Rollinson down the right of the area and from just inside the box stroked the ball past keeper Harry Girling for the best possible start.

Cheshunt though fought back and in the 7th minute were back on level terms when Bobbt Mills down the left cut into the area and was clipped by Mitchell Nelson and a penalty kick was given.  From the spot, Ryan Moss stroked the ball into the net.

In the 22nd minute though Cheshunt were reduced to ten men when Giuseppe Re caught Barney Williams down by the right touchline with a slightly mistimed challenge and meant a large chunk of the game was to be spent a man short.

This gave Cray more impetus and Dent shot over the top and then Pritchard found Williams down the right and his ball into the box found Joe Taylor who fired a shot just wide of the right post. 

However, a goal was looking on the cards and five minutes before half time it came and was well worth waiting for as Lee Lewis who was having a storming game in midfield broke forward with the ball and finding space from 25 yards hit a well struck shot which swerved past Girling and into the net for his second goal of the season.

Cray began the second half in full flow and straight away could have scored a third when Rollinson down the right laid the ball across and Pritchard shot over the top from the edge of the area. 

In the 54th minute Cray won a corner down the right and Pritchard’s ball in was only half cleared out of the area and Lewis won the ball and from 30 yards hit an unstoppable shot which gave Girling no chance and the Wands had the comfort of a 3-1 lead.

Five minutes later and the game was to all intents and purposes over when after another superb passing move, the ball came to Mundele who slipped an excellent pass through to Taylor down the right of the area and finished confidently placing the ball in the bottom left corner of the net.

Cray now had their tails up and Cheshunt were looking a little bedraggled and Leader played an excellent ball into the area to Rollinson who flicked the ball up and attempted an audacious lob which was gathered by Girling. 

In the 65th minute, Cray scored their fifth goal when Dent and Taylor switched the ball out to Rollinson down the right and his ball across was swept into the net by the increasingly deadly Taylor.

Two minutes later, Cray went even further in front when Cheshunt lost possession in midfield and Pritchard’s ball split the defence and Taylor burst into the area and tucked the ball home from 12 yards for his nineteenth of the season and capped off a remarkable eight minutes for the Cray Wanderers no 9.

The rest of the game would now be comfortable for Cray with Cheshunt looking to restore some pride for the remainder of the half and the Wands almost made it 7-1 when Andre Coker found Lewis who also looking for a hat-trick saw a shot pushed out by Girling but Charlie Allen following up turned the ball into the net but was ruled out for offside.

With the game long since won Cray were able to see out the remainder of the game with few alarms and what could have been a tough, hard fought encounter ended in a comfortable three points and kept up the momentum which had been building over the last few games.

Cray now have three successive away games in the league with a trip to North London to face Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday night followed by a visit to Brightlingsea on Saturday and then Carshalton Athletic in three weeks time.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Barney Williams, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard (Charlie Allen, 67), Karl Dent (Charles Etumnu, 86), Ben Mundele (Andre Coker, 76), Joel Rollinson, Joe Taylor:  Subs:  Geofrey Okonkwo, Grant Hall

Att: 162