Cray Wanderers went down to their first home defeat since Boxing Day as Bishop’s Stortford came from behind to score three second half goals and make it back to back league defeats for Cray for the first time since December. 

On the first Sunday game of the season the Wands got off to a good start and twice came close twice before Freddie Parker slotted Cray in front in the 16th minute with his fifth goal of the season.

The game evened up before the break and Aaron Greene who was denied by a fine save from Lewis Carey on the stroke of half-time levelled in the 58th minute for the Blues when he finished well from Ben Marlow’s lay off.

Ten minutes later with Bishop’s Stortford getting on top had the chance go ahead when Greene was brought down in the box and Frankie Merrifield stroked home the spot.  In the 74th minute, there was more joy for Merrifield when he finished well when put through on goal and despite Cray’s best endeavours couldn’t get back in the game and drop to 7th in the Isthmian Premier League table with Bishop’s Stortford who are the only unbeaten team in the division up to 4th.

The game started at a good tempo and Cray created the first opening of the afternoon when Bradley Pritchard found Ben Mundele who made one of a number of early promising early runs forward, found Jerome Federico down the right who put over a cross into the box for Joe Taylor, who turned, found space but pulled his shot just past the right post.

A very patient build-up of passing from Cray down the left saw Mitchell Nelson and Jay Leader bring the ball forward and found Jason Banton who received a return pass from Tom Phipp and from the left of the area his cross shot was pushed away well by Jack Giddens.

In the 16th minute, Cray went into a merited lead at this stage with Federico making a surging run down the middle finding Freddie Parker out on the left who from the edge of the box, turned a defender and fired a shot low past a diving Giddens into the bottom right corner.  

Cray came close to what would have been a great second goal when Parker found Federico down the right who curled a superb dipping shot towards the far post which only just dropped over the bar.

At the other end though, Bishop’s Stortford came close to a leveller when Archie Jones found Greene who from twenty yards found space and curled his shot fractionally wide of the right hand post.

Cray came close to a well worked second goal when Leader and Pritchard combined to fine Federico who put over a right wing cross into the area to Parker who from 12 yards saw his shot blocked by the backside of Sam Robbins. Then Cray won a free kick out on the left about 15 yards from goal and Parker hit the ball right into the heart of the area and Giddens did well to punch the ball away almost on the line.

On the stroke of half time down the right, Greene showed pace to break into the area and looked destined to score but his shot was met by a fine one handed stop by Carey and was able to scramble the ball from danger and Cray led at the break.

The second half began with the visitors carrying on where they left off and again Greene was to the fore and did well to fire in a shot from the edge of the area which Carey did well to push over for a corner. 

Cray though looked to score a second goal and from a throw-in down the left, Leader and Pritchard combined well to set up Taylor who hit a shot which went past the left post.

In the 58th minute, Bishop’s drew level when Giddens hoisted the ball forward was flicked on to Marlow inside the area who chested the ball back to Greene who hit a sweet strike similar to Freddie Parker’s strike from the edge of the area and nestled into the bottom right.

In the 68th minute, the game was turned on its head when Bishop’s Stortford were awarded a penalty when again Giddens found Marlow the laid the ball down the right of the area to Foxley who played the ball into the box to Greene who was adjudged to have been brought down by Leader and a penalty kick was awarded. From the spot Merrifield drove his kick down the middle and Bishop’s Stortford were in front.

Six minutes later, the visitors scored a third goal when Carey’s ball out to Jay Leader who saw his attempt to play the ball forward intercepted by Foxley who found Merrifield in space down the right of the area who drove a shot under Carey and into the net for his fifth league goal of the season.

The last chance of the game fell to Bishop’s Stortford when Marlow who had a good second half won the ball and laid the ball towards the right post but Thomas Richardson fired wildly over the bar.

Cray next travel to Bristol Manor Farm in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round on Tuesday 13th October looking to make the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for only the second time.   

Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson (Capt.), Tom Carlse, Jerome Federico, Tom Phipp, Bradley Pritchard, Jason Banton (Rhys Murrell-Williamson, 31), Freddie Parker (Charlie Allen, 81), Joe Taylor: Subs:  Barney Williams, Lee Lewis, Martin Onoabaghbe

Att:  338