Match report by Pete Goringe
Goals scored right at the end of additional time in each half secured another welcome win for the Wands at the home of their mid-table Ryman South hosts.
In contrast to some recent League Cup matches, this game was taken very seriously by the two managers. Both sides made only one change to their elevens that started in impressive victories on Saturday.
It was an even contest throughout with both goalkeepers called into action early in the first-half. Helge Orome and Tommy Whitnell forced home ‘keeper Martin Grant into action, whilst Cray’s impressive young custodian, Charlie Grainger, saved well from the dangerous Elliot Romain.
Charlie Leach missed the home side’s best chance when he failed to connect properly at the far post with the goal at his mercy, before the Wands took the lead with the “One minute” board showing. Whitnell found space on the right and crossed delicately for Alex Stavrinou, who rose well to send a looping header into the opposite corner of the net.
The second-half followed a similar pattern, with Bridges’ ex-Cray player Williams Peauroux and the experienced Lee Carney combining well in midfield, but the Sussex side’s attacking moves frequently broke down due to the solid central defensive play of Orome and Carlos Talbot.
The Wands created some good chances, mainly on the break, and came very close to doubling their lead when Josh Kennedy’s low shot rolled agonisingly past the post.
After Cray had weathered some late pressure, with the watch showing 95 minutes, Jordan Clarke broke clear of the home defence and calmly slotted the ball past Grant. It was almost a carbon copy of his goal against Met. Police, but this time scored with the left foot.
This was a good workout for Keith Bird’s new-look side, who will have benefitted from another chance to get used to one another, before the sterner tests that await them in the Ryman Premier League.
Cray: Grainger, Larin, Al-Asmpan (Bardon, 40), Day (Beckett, 69), Orome, Talbot, Kennedy, Jack Clark, McBean (Jordan Clarke, 60), Stavrinou, Whitnell. Subs (not used): Hughes, Coleman.