Potters Bar Town 1
Cray Wanderers 1
Cray Wanderers first ever visit to Potters Bar Town ended in dramatic fashion as a Joe Taylor goal five minutes into stoppage time earned a point that was merited over the 90 minutes.
In a hard fought game Potters Bar had looked to have won the game when Bradley Sach stabbed the ball into the net with five minutes to go before Joe Taylor clinically struck from Tom Carlse’s cross deep into added time.
The game may not live in the memory as a classic but certainly there was plenty of competitive spirit with 10 bookings in the game despite not being overly physical.
There were few chances in the first half with Josh Hutchinson heading just wide for the home side and then was denied by a good save by Lewis Carey while at the other end, Freddie Parker shot just wide and Tom Murphy’s lobbed effort towards goal had to be scooped over the bar by James Budden.
The second half saw the game become fragmented as the weather got drizzly and wet in complete contrast to las weekend but Cray came close to taking the lead when Joe Taylor saw a close range effort saved by Matt Nolan from Karl Dent’s cutback while Nolan excelled to make a fine one handed save to deny Aaron Rhule before the game came alive in the last few minutes with the two goals but a point was the least Cray deserved.
There was one change to the starting lineup to from the side which beat Hythe last Sunday with Geofrey Okonkwo coming in to the back line for the absent Mitchell Nelson.
Potters Bar Town were ninth at the start of the game and are a strong side and not many teams will come to the Pakex Stadium and walk away with the points too easily and certainly it was evident this would be a tough encounter.
Cray in their stylish white and amber away strip certainly looked the part and began the game brightly after a spell of sparring early on and a terrific flicked header by Joe Taylor went out to the right wing to Jerome Federico who sent over a cross which fell to Taylor but shot over the bar from the edge of the area.
Then from a throw in down the left the ball came to Tom Murphy who cracked in a shot which was blocked by a Potters Bar defender inside the area.
This was followed by Cray coming close when Lee Lewis and Murphy combined to set up Freddie Parker who found space in a central position and was unlucky to see his shot go just past the left post.
From here though, Potters Bar had a good spell and came close when a terrific cross from out on the right from Joakim Ehui was met by a smart header from Josh Hutchinson and went just past the left post.
Shortly after there was another chance for Hutchinson when down the left, Yiannis Constantinou found Andy Lomas and his ball across towards the far post found Huchinson who saw his effort pushed away well by Lewis Carey.
Then Hutchinson who had a good game up front for the Scholars turned on the edge of the box but shot over the bar. Then Ehui played another decent ball into the area to Bradley Sach whose near post shot was held by Carey.
Cray were unlucky not to go in front in the 25th minute when a ball was played forward towards Murphy who beat the offside trap and as Matt Nolan advanced lifted the ball towards goal and James Budden had to turn the ball over the bar for a corner before Taylor could get there to tap in.
The game then went through a cagey spell although Cray came close when Federico down the right set up Murphy whose shot from 20 yards went straight to Nolan.
Defensively Cray were looking secure and Okonkwo in particular was superb at the back, reading the game well and made a couple of key tackles just outside the area to keep the scoreline blank.
The last action of the first half saw Cray put the ball in the net when Parker played a ball through to Taylor who finished well but the flag was raised for a close offside call and the sides went in at the break scoreless.
Half Time: 0-0
There was a change for Cray at half time with Karl Dent coming on for Parker for his first appearance since the Folkestone game. The grey clouds had been gathering since 3 o clock but decided in the second half to open and although hardly torrential it was certainly a marked contrast to the heat of the Bank Holiday weekend.
The home side began the half well and Hutchinson saw a shot deflected through to Lewis Carey while at the other end, following a cross from the left Taylor held the ball well to tee up Murphy for a shot which went well over the top.
The grey clouds seemed to mark the mood of the game as what was quite a keenly contested first half suddenly became a more fractious affair with a number of stoppages and cautions began in the 56th minute after Federico was chopped down outside the area by Budden and became the first of ten second half bookings. Following the foul, Federico was replaced by Aaron Rhule.
For Potters Bar they were awarded a free kick just outside the area and from the free kick Keagan Cole fired a shot just wide of the right post.
Cray though just after the hour had the best chance of the game so far when from a throw in down the left, Barney Williams found Harry Hudson who slipped the ball to Dent who cut into the area and from close to the byline sent over a fine short cross towards Taylor who from eight yards hit the ball well but went straight to Nolan.
Potters Bar threatened to break the deadlock when down the left Constantinou’s cross was met with an attempted acrobatic volley by Hutchinson but went well off target.
Cray though looked to be on top at this stage and from a corner down the left, Dent;s ball into the box came to Murphy and his goal bound shot was blocked by the chest of George Quarrington-Carter in the six yard box and the chance went away.
Then Dent and Taylor did well to combine to put Rhule through down the right of the penalty area and was unlucky to see his well hit shot denied a goal by an excellent one handed save by Nolan and the ball was cleared.
After this bright spell the game got bogged down once again with the only chance coming to Potters Bar when Ehui found Hutchinson who shot wide of goal while slight off balance.
It was beginning to look like a goalless draw but in the 85th minute and after a brief spell of possession from the home side, Potters Bar took the lead with a goal worked down the right. The ball came to the lively Ehui who down the right of the area set himself up for a shot but was denied by a great block from Carey who deserved better than see Ehui picked up the rebound and lift the ball towards goal and from about four yards Sach was on hand to turn the ball over the line.
Potters Bar’s tails were up for a little while after this but with all the stoppages in play this led to six minutes additional time. It looked like a defeat for Cray but in the fifth of the extra minutes, there was a sting in the tail. The ball was worked from Tom Carlse who found Pritchard and then out to Williams down the right who passed the ball to Murphy who ran towards the edge of the area and sent over a cross to the far post that eluded the home defence and Carlse coming up unnoticed won the ball and laid the ball across to Taylor who had plenty to do but held the ball up and lashed a shot low into the bottom left corner of the net and salvage a point for Tony Russell’s men. It was a terrific goal to watch and despite coming so late in the game Cray played some fine football in the build up rather than hit and hoping the ball forward which augurs well for the remainder of the season and the type of football the club likes to play.
That proved to be the last kick of the game and understandably the home side were a little frustrated at the end to say the least at losing the two points.
Maybe not a game that will belong amongst the greats but certainly plenty of endeavour and graft, sweat and effort and a draw was a fair outcome. The point keeps Cray in 14th place in the early weeks of the league season on 6 points and next Sunday take a break to return to FA Cup action against Bedfont Sports at Hayes Lane.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Barney Williams (Capt.), Charlie Allen (Tom Carlse, 75), Geofrey Okonkwo, Harry Hudson, Lee Lewis, Bradley Pritchard, Jerome Federico (Aaron Rhule, 57), Tom Murphy, Freddie Parker (Karl Dent, H/T), Joe Taylor: Subs: Charles Etumnu, Grant Hall
Booked: Pritchard, Allen, Murphy, Rhule, Taylor, Dent,
Potters Bar Town: Matt Nolan, Will Wambeek (Stefan Powell, 28), Andy Lomas, George Craddock (George Nicholas, 74), James Budden, George Quarrington-Carter, Joakim Ehui, Keagan Cole, Josh Hutchinson, Bradley Sach, Yiannis Constantinou (Ben Ward-Cochrane, 79): Subs: Jack Humphrey
Booked: Budden, Quarrington-Carter, Cole, Powell
Referee: Shaun Barry
Assistants: Matthew Paul, Matthew Lake