Cray Wanderers moved up to 3rd place in the Isthmian Premier league table and made it six unbeaten after a dramatic victory at fellow playoff contenders Enfield Town. The game looked to be heading for a draw but Jay Leader’s header three minutes into injury time earned Cray the points against an Enfield side reduced to ten men for the last quarter of an hour.

In a match that promised so much before the game it certainly lived up to the star billing and Charlie Allen who started the game as the main striker in the absence of Joe Taylor, capped off a series of fine personal performances by putting Cray in front in the 38th minute with a superb lofted chip-shot over keeper Nathan McDonald.  Enfield though turned the match turned around completely in the space of three minutes as Ryan Blackman steered home in the 57th minute and three minutes later Billy Bricknell converted a penalty to put the home side in front. 

The game had another twist as Enfield were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute when Blackman was sent off for a second bookable offence.  Cray sought at least a point with the man advantage and did draw level when Allen scored his second of the game when he turned home Rhys Murrell-Willamson’s layoff to make it 2-2.  Finally to cap off the match, three minutes into injury time, Bradley Pritchard’s right wing corner was met by the head of Leader who emphatically placed the ball into the bottom right corner of the net and a big three points was secured.  

On a grey, murky but dry afternoon Cray set off at an impressive pace and took the game to Enfield and came close a number of times in the opening half with Lee Lewis, Tom Phipp and Jay Leader all firing over while at the other end Billy Bricknell fired a shot wide.

The Wands were then a little unlucky not to take the lead with a very special goal when Joel Rollinson’s cross from the right found Pritchard inside the area and his overhead kick only just cleared the crossbar.  Then Barney Williams fired over and Joel Rollinson saw a well struck shot pushed over the bar by keeper Nathan McDonald.  Finally after the spell of pressure, Phipp hooked a shot against the bar. 

Enfield’s best opening of the half came on the half hour when Lyle Della-Verde down the right cut inside and fired in a cross-shot which Lewis Carey did well to push behind.  Meanwhile for Cray, from a free kick, Pritchard set up Rollinson who shot over.

A goal duly arrived for Cray which came in the 38th minute when Murrell-Williamson played a ball forward from just over the half way line towards Charlie Allen who beat Marc Weatherstone for pace to win the ball and from just outside the area deftly lifted the ball over McDonald and dropped into the net for his first goal for Cray Wanderers.

The frenetic pace continued and Bricknell saw an effort blocked by Carey as Enfield looked to get straight back into the game.  Cray though almost added a second when from a free kick just outside the area to the right, Murrell-Williamson curled the ball round the wall and McDonald at his near post had to turn the ball behind.

Then Allen almost scored his second when he won another race with Weatherstone to latch onto a through ball and managed to take the ball round McDonald but with the angle tightening squeezed a shot just across and wide of the left post.   

The second half started with the pace unrelenting with Murrell-Williamson shooting wide,, Karl Dent seeing a cross-shot saved by McDonald’s legs and Leader firing over.  At the other Della-Verde hit a shot which was well claimed by Carey.

Then in the 57th minute, Enfield drew level with a well taken goal as the ball was worked down the right to Della-Verde and his ball across found Blackman who steered his shot wide of Carey and into the bottom left to make it 1-1.

The game then turned round completely on the hour when Ken Charles was adjudged to have been tripped just inside the area by Ben Mundele and a penalty was awarded.  From the spot, Bricknell stroked home the spot-kick and Enfield were now ahead.

Enfield almost scored a third when Bricknell came close to scoring again when Della-Verde down the right combined with Bricknell who from just outside the area curled a shot over.  

However, in the 77th minute, Blackman was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Palace Francis in midfield and was dismissed and Cray had a man advantage for the remainder of the game.

This Cray team fight on to the bitter end and In the 83rd minute, the Wands drew level when a free kick out on the left was played towards Francis who flicked a header towards Murrell-Williamson who in turn hooked the ball towards Allen who showed great composure to fire into the net from 12 yards and it was now 2-2.

In the third minute of injury time there was another twist to the plot when Cray won a corner down the right and from the corner, Pritchard’s ball across was perfectly placed towards the back of the area where Leader stole in to place a fine header which flew past McDonald and Cray for the second away game in a row had won the match with a late goal showing their character.

Cray now move up to 3rd and meet another side with playoff aspirations Horsham on Saturday 1st February, 3pm as the Wands begin a tough month with games against other promotion contenders, Horsham, Worthing, Folkestone Invicta and East Thurrock United.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele (Aaron Rhule, 80), Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp (Karl Dent, H/T), Lee Lewis (Palace Francis, 70), Bradley Pritchard, Joel Rollinson, Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Charlie Allen:  Subs: Jerome Federico, Geofrey Okonkwo

Att:  303