Cray Wanderers made it two away wins to start 2020 as a first ever visit to Bowers & Pitsea saw a come from behind victory.  Second half goals from Joe Taylor in the 64th minute and a last minute debut strike from Rhys Murrell-Williamson completed a comeback after Bradley Warner gave Bowers a 32nd minute lead from the penalty spot. This completed a league double for last season’s Isthmian South-East Champions vs the North Champions.

The Wands who won at Margate on New Year’s Day and then drew at home to Wingate & Finchley last Saturday unveiled a very recent new signing with winger, Rhys Murrell-Williamson arriving from Braintree Town and certainly made his mark on the game.

Both teams had been in decent form and this was a hard fought game with two contrasting styles of play but always engaging with Cray showing good resolve and determination to turn the game around after the home side had the better of the opening 45 minutes.

From the start on a grey and breezy afternoon this was always going to be a tough assignment for Cray but the Wands started well and had a fair amount of the ball but the home defence held firm.  Cray were a bit unfortunate though not to take the lead when a free kick out on the right from Bradley Pritchard was hoisted into the box and Mitchell Nelson rose up with Lewis Manor who got a touch to turn the ball into his own net but was disallowed for a foul by Nelson.

The best early chance of the game though fell to Bowers & Pitsea when a ball from out on the left from Tom Stephen found Bradley Warner who from just inside the area seemed to scuff his shot and Lewis Carey was able to save.  Then an effort from distance from Warner was deflected through to Carey.  Cray then had a half opening when the ball came to Joel Rollinson who from 25yards saw his well struck shot which forced Chafer to get down to save.

For Bowers & Pitsea, Warner was a real threat in the first half and the focal point of the home side’s attack and in the 32nd minute opened the scoring when he worked his way down the left of the area, and was adjudged to have been brought down by Nelson for the award of a penalty which was a touch soft but it was good, clever play by Warner in the buildup.  From the spot, Warner stroked home his 15th goal of the season.

Bowers & Pitsea had their tails up then and shortly after, a cross into the box was punched away by Carey and came to Warner who fired over the bar.

Cray were finding chances harder to come by although from a throw in down the left, Tom Murphy’s ball came to Barney Williams who fired a shot over the angle of post and crossbar.  The last opportunity of the half came to Bowers & Pitsea with James Thomas’s strike being held by Carey.

At the start of the second half Bowers & Pitsea were still playing well and another strike from Warner from just outside the area was well claimed by Carey.  Then Bowers had a good chance when a fine ball out on the right from Manor found substitute Quentin Monville who broke into the area and flashed a shot just across goal and wide.

Cray though were beginning to up their game and Rollinson won the ball in midfield and found Tom Phipp who hit a shot from 25 yards which flashed wide of the left post.

Then in the 64th minute Cray drew level with another terrific piece of finishing from Taylor who hadn’t had many chances in the game but received a fine pass from Rollinson from the right touchline and from the edge of the six yard box lifted the ball into the bottom left corner for his 27th goal of the season.

A couple of minutes later, Cray almost went in front when again down the right, Rollinson from just inside the box hit a fierce shot which was met by a terrific save from Chafer at his near post.

The game was now developing into a fine contest after the rather attritional first half and Bowers had a great chance to get back in front when Warner dispossessed Nelson and broke forward and seemed certain to score but was denied by a superb diving save from Carey to keep the scores all tied.

Cray ended the game the stronger and almost went in front when Nelson’s ball forward found Taylor who hit a sweet volley which went just over from 14 yards. Then from a corner down the right, Pritchard’s ball to the far post was headed wide by Nelson under pressure from Callum Healy.

It was looking like it might be a draw but with a minute to go with a superb individual goal from Murrell-Willamson who won the ball in midfield and burst down the left and from the edge of the area hooked a clinically taken shot wide of Chafer and into the bottom right corner of the net.

Cray were able to see out the remaining minutes and pick up a big three points which keeps Tony Russell's side in 6th place in the Isthmian Premier on 41 points, level with 5th placed Hornchurch who Cray meet on Wednesday night at Hayes Lane, 7.45pm.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Tom Phipp, Bradley Pritchard, Tom Murphy (Charlie Allen, H/T), Joel Rollinson, Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Lee Lewis, 90), Joe Taylor: Subs: Jerome Federico, Karl Dent, Geofrey Okonkwo

Att:  154