A night of frustration for Cray Wanderers
Squandered chances for Cray, earn Tunbridge Wells deserved point
Wanderers 1-1 Tunbridge Wells
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division
Wednesday 31 March 2004
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane
TUNBRIDGE WELLS came to Hayes Lane with only Deal Town and Sporting Bengal United underneath them in the Go Travel Kent League Premier Division table, but they set to their game plan to frustrate third placed Cray Wanderers and fully deserved their 1-1 draw.
Wanderers were guilty of squandering many chances in both halves, and it was the
lower placed visitors who took the lead six minutes after the re-start before
David Gray's leveller eleven minutes later saved any blushes for Ian Jenkins'
The groundsman at Hayes Lane only finished marking the lines on the pitch within six minutes of kick off, and these lines would have still been wet as the home side went about getting an early goal against the strugglers.
Erith & Belvedere and Slade Green midfielder, Robert Browning tested
visiting goalkeeper Matt Bromby after latching onto a pass from Ross Lover, but
the Wells goalkeeper spread himself well to make a useful block.
Lover tried his luck from 28 yards but his low shot took a deflection on its way wide of the far post before experienced skipper Ian Rawlings powered a header into the goalkeeper's arms following Lover's flag kick.
Tunbridge Wells were not at Hayes Lane to lie down and die and a swift move down the right which started with Bromby rolling the ball to impressive right back Lee Skinner ended with Shane Symes shooting narrowly over the crossbar from sixteen yards after ten minutes.
Wells skipper Skinner always tried to get forward at every opportunity and played a man-of-the-match role for the visitors linking well with Lee Dawes down the right flank.
Another chance came Wells way three minutes later when striker Benji Agana drilled a shot across the face of goal but goalkeeper Micky Simmons clutched the ball at the second attempt.
Just after quarter-of-an-hour, another chance fell the home side's way but Rawlings headed Lover's corner kick over the bar.
Former Ashford Town player Symes ran down the middle of the pitch, starting his mazy run from the half way line before setting up lively Dawes but Simmons made a comfortable save at the near post.
Lover came close after 24 minutes in another opportunity for the defending champions but the winger, who was replaced by burly Richard Dimmock at the break, drilled a shot narrowly wide of the foot of the near post from the edge of the Wells penalty area.
Danny Evans' delivered a pin-point cross but former Maidstone United midfielder, Jamie Kempster headed wide despite pressure from his marker before he cut the ball back from the by-line, after getting the better of Skinner, but Browning leaned back on the shot, and the ball flew high and wide of the target.
Tunbridge Wells almost broke the deadlock within thirteen seconds after the re-start as Agana's swept in cross-cum-shot brought a fine save from the experienced Simmons, back-peddling, the cab driver, tipped the shot over the crossbar.
Cray were made to pay for their squandered chances as Tunbridge Wells broke the deadlock after 51 minutes.
Symes' corner was directed towards his own goal by Dimmock but Nick Young received the ball at his feet and fired Tunbridge Wells into the lead, scoring inside the near post.
Two minutes later, inspired Wells almost doubled their advantage but Simmons saw Bradley Hobb's effort from the left fly over the crossbar.
Cray's back-line has a wealth of experience with Rawlings, Gray and Andy Silk gaining experience at a higher level of football and it was Silk who encouraged his players throughout the game, but they were soon to be back on level terms, after 62 minutes.
Matt Woolf's corner was headed at the far post by Dimmock and the visitors had a second to clear the ball but Gray pounced and stabbed the ball home from close range.
For the rest of the game it was the home side who created, and missed the chances with Wells happy to dig in and battle for the point.
Bromby kept his eye on the ball from Woolf's long range free kick making a comfortable save before Silk almost gave the Wands the goal their play deserved but his effort clipped the top of the left upright before Jamie Wood fired over from 20 yards after the visitors made their first change.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Bromby made another fine save as he blocked Wood who had latched onto a pass but the Wells goalkeeper did well to block the shot from eight yards.
Cray piled on the pressure at the death and Gray headed over from Woolf's corner kick but Wells had deserved a point from this battling performance.
Cray Wanderers: Micky Simmons, Andy Silk, Ian Rawlings (Capt), David Gray, Danny Evans (Sam Wood 86), Robert Browning, Ross Lover (Richard Dimmock 46), Jamie Kempster, Jamie Wood, Ricky Bennett, Matthew Woolf. Subs: Adam Heaslewood, John Mayall, Danny Whelan
Tunbridge Wells: Matt Bromby, Bradley Hobbs (Andy Hutchins 90), Shane Symes, Justin Light, Simon Joynes, Lee Skinner (Capt), Nicky Babicz, Lee Dawes, Benji Agana (Dave Gill 90), Nick Young (Jack Lynch 68), Les Cox
Referee: P Harris (Maidstone)
Assistants: Mr S Finnigan & Mr B Harvey