Cray Wanderers away. Report courtesy of Cray Wanderers F.C.

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Cray Wanderers away. Report courtesy of Cray Wanderers F.C.

Post  Dock end John on Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:04 am

Cray Wanderers 3 Tilbury 2 (Att 130)

Cray showed great powers of recovery as the ten man Wands came from behind to score twice in the last ten minutes to defeat a hard working Tilbury side.

Tony Russell made one change from the side that was unlucky to lose at Hornchurch on Saturday with Sean Roberts making his midfield debut for Cray in place of Jack Lodge.

The game was played on the impressive new surface at Hayes Lane helped by the late afternoon rain which made the pitch zippy on top. The first half saw Tilbury who won their opening game of the season have a lot of possession and forced the first half chance when Kurt Smith’s left wing cross was turned wide by Grant Basey for a corner. From the corner, Francis Babalola shot harmlessly wide of goal.

Cray’s first chance came in the eight minute after they forced a couple of corners. From the second corner, James Duckworth’s inswinging kick was met by Leigh Bremner who steered a header wide from 7 yards out.

Tilbury looked quite lively throughout the first half but were mostly restricted to shooting from long range. In the 12th minute Smith and Harry Cook combined to set up Conor Mead for a shot which went wide from 30 yards. A few minutes later in a similar shooting position Emiel Aiken hit an effort which was off target. For Cray another corner from Duckworth was floated in but Nick Reeves up from the back couldn’t get direction on his header and the ball went well wide.

Two minutes later Cray took the lead slightly against the run of play with an excellent goal which owed much to the qualities of Bremner who showed good pace to take on Mead and put in a great ball across to McCollin from the right who drilled a low shot into the net from 15 yards to net his second goal in two games.

For the rest of the half Cray found it hard going to build on the lead and twice before the half hour Tilbury were presented with shooting opportunities. Firstly Matthew Game fired wide of goal and a minute later Cook hit a stinging shot which just cleared the angle of the left post and crossbar and just over.

Cray were presented with a free kick opportunity following a foul on Duckworth. McCollin’s free kick from 18 yards sailed over. For the visitors, Smith worked his way down the left side and played the ball to Babalola who lashed the ball over the top.

The last main action of the first half came when Bremner played another superb ball across the box but the ball evaded any onrushing forwards.

The second half saw a great deal of drama as both teams opened up and the game became end to end for a spell.

Bremner having a tremendous game, made a great run from just inside his own half to outside on the right and fed McCollin who ran into the box but Dockers keeper Clarke Bogard came off his line bravely and the ball bounced off McCollin and over.

Tilbury were playing some good football themselves and Smith found space on the left of the area and fired narrowly wide.

McCollin then shot over the top after Dent and Duckworth combined with the former Kingstonian and Aldershot Town striker. For Tilbury, Blue was forced into a rare save when Mead drilled in a low shot which was comfortably held by the home keeper.

Just on the hour however, the game changed completely when Smith who was proving a handful was played through on goal and was brought down just inside the penalty area by Ben Payne. The referee pointed to the spot and Payne was then dismissed for retaliation after the award of the penalty. From the resultant kick, Smith tucked home the penalty with some aplomb to score on what was the balance of play probably a deserved goal.

Tony made a couple of changes bringing on Jack Lodge and Dane Moore with the skipper now off the field and it looked as if the visitors now had the upper hand.

They too made an astute substitution with Neil Richmond coming on to the field and it was he that gave Tilbury the lead on 71 minutes when he received probably too much space twenty yards from goal and hit a precise shot which flew past Blue into the net.

With a man advantage it would appear there could only be one winner but Cray showed great character to take the game to Tilbury in the last quarter of an hour.

With 10 minutes to go Cray were awarded a free kick some 25 yards from goal. Up stepped Basey who possesses one of the hardest shots I think I’ve ever seen who rifled in an unstoppable shot which gave Bogard no chance and brought the crowd to its feet in admiration at the strike. Surely an early candidate for Cray goal of the season.

Cray seemed fired up after this and Bremner was running himself into the ground with his tireless running and his hold up play was a lesson to all young players and it seems like he has lost none of the abilities that has made him an all time Wands great.

With four minutes to go, Cray were awarded another free kick this time about 35 yards out from goal. This time Basey played the ball into the area and the ball was cleared out to the edge of the area straight to Lodge who fired in a powerful shot which the keeper found too hot to handle and could only push the ball up and over the line to send the Cray fans delirious.

The last few minutes including a generous amount of injury time saw plenty of pressure from Tilbury who forced two or three corners and caused Cray to do some desperate defending at times.

In the end though Cray saw out the final seconds for a morale boosting victory which showed the character of the team and how this looks like being a much different Cray side to the one that started last season. Tilbury travel again on Saturday to local rivals Romford.


Bogard, Mead, J Cook, Nightingill, D Smith, Game, Babalola, Carlile, H Cook (Richmond, 64), Aiken, K Smith (Martin, 73):

Unused Subs: Pooley, Webb and Austin
Dock end John

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