Cray Wanderers returned to Isthmian League action after a six month layoff and came back in swashbuckling style as the Wands recorded their first ever opening day win in the Isthmian Premier and their biggest opening day win since 1952 beating a highly fancied and strong Kingstonian side at Hayes Lane.  


Cray took a merited lead through a superb finish from Joe Taylor from the right of the penalty area in the 8th minute.  Kingstonian were very much in the game and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions but Cray went two nil up when Jason Banton scored on his debut with a shot from close to 25 yards which evaded keeper Rob Tolfrey and out through a hole in the netting.


The second half was an end to end affair and in the 51st minute following a Kingstonian attack, Cray countered to devastating effect as Banton showed his pace to get away, to burst down the left and eventually lay the ball across to Rhys Murrell-Williamson who fired in from 6 yards.  Seven minutes later the game was to all intents and purposes over when from a free kick 25 yards out, Freddie Parker’s shot was deflected into the net past Tolfrey.


Kingstonian pulled a goal back fifteen minutes from time with a well worked goal and finish from Corie Andrews.  However, Cray finished the match in style with another cracking finish from Taylor from another Pritchard assist to basically carry on as they left off from last season with a 5-1 win.


On a warm afternoon the game started off at a brisk pace and Cray were most definitely on the front foot and Lee Lewis had the first shooting opportunity down the right with a shot from distance which went just past the left post.  In the 6th minute, good set up play from Joe Taylor saw the ball come to Rhys Murrell-Williamson who hooked a shot from 20 yards again wide of the left post.


Two minutes later, Cray went in front with a goal which stemmed from a superb tackle from Mitchell Nelson on ex-Wand Andre Coker down the right and Murrell-Williamson found Bradley Pritchard who in turn played a first time ball to Taylor who turned past Fabio Saraiva just inside the area and curled an unerring shot past Rob Tolfrey.


The Wands came close to scoring a tremendous second goal when Lee Lewis found Tom Carlse down the left and his ball across to Taylor was held up for Murrell-Williamson who wrapped a shot against the right post and out into play.


The K’s to their credit got back into the game and had a good spell around the half hour mark. Firstly from a free kick 25 yards out, Kadell Daniel’s shot was held by Lewis Carey.  Then Carey did superbly to deny Coker who made a good run from midfield and his shot from distance was pushed away well by the Cray keeper.


Then after good play down the left, Elliott Buchanan played a pass to Coker inside the box and his shot was saved well by the legs of Carey.  This was followed by Saraiva fizzing a cross from the left across goal and no-one could apply a touch and then Tom Kavanagh saw a shot from distance parried away by Carey.


Just when it seemed Kingstonian had a foothold in the match, Cray scored a second goal out of nothing in the 39th minute when the ball was played down the left and Tom Carlse found Taylor who laid the ball across to Banton who looked to play the ball into Freddie Parker in the area but the ball was cleared by Simon Cooper back out to Banton who let fly from 20 yards and the ball went past Tolfrey into the bottom left corner and out through the hole in the net but no doubt it had crossed the line.


In the 51st minute, Cray scored a third goal when Kingstonian won a corner down the left the ball into the box was pushed away by Carey and the ball was blocked. The loose ball came the way of Taylor on the edge of the Cray box and played a ball out to Banton down the left who sped past the challenge of Kadell Daniel and through down the left of the area and squared the ball across to Murrell-Williamson who tapped in from six yards. 


Seven minutes later, Cray scored a fourth goal to leave real daylight between the teams when from a free kick 25 yards out in a central position, Freddie Parker hit a shot which deflected off Cooper in the wall and past Tolfrey giving the keeper no chance.

With fifteen minutes left to play Kingstonian pulled a goal back with a well worked goal with Kenny Beaney and Kavanagh combining to find Omarr Lawson who dinked a pass through to Andrews down the left of the area and fired past Carey into the bottom right corner.


The K’s looked to end with a rally and a free kick from Tom Richards was headed over by Cooper and then Richards found Kavanagh who drove a shot from the edge of the area down the right which was deflected behind for a corner.


However, the last word went to Cray in the 81st minute when down the right Barney Williams found Emanuel Oduguwa who played a pass to Lewis and he too to ritchard who set up Taylor from the edge of the box who stroked the ball past Tolfrey to make it 5-1.


Towards the end a corner from Parker down the right was headed over by Taylor and then seeking a hat-trick, was played into the box by Williams but Tolfrey did well to block the ball and the chance went away.


Cray though had been in tremendous form and against a side who will be there or thereabouts at the top come the end of the season and continued the unbeaten run in 2020. 


The Wands next take on SCEFL Premier Fisher in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Wednesday night, 7.45pm ko


Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Carlse, Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Emanuel Oduguwa, 80), Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Jason Banton (Stefan Abatan, 53), Freddie Parker, Joe Taylor: Subs:  Ehizojie Onoabagbe, Charlie Allen, Roman Hall

Att:  290