Cray Wanderers 2-2 Folkestone Invicta - I do believe in these boys, they will get out of relegation trouble, says Cray Wanderers boss Danny Kedwell

Wednesday 24th November 2021
Cray Wanderers 2 – 2 Folkestone Invicta
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 24/11/2021 19:45

Isthmian League Premier Division
Wednesday 24 November 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS manager Danny Kedwell says he does believe that his boys will get out of relegation trouble after holding promotion-chasing Folkestone Invicta to a draw.

A side that contains Jack Turner, Dean Beckwith, Jai Reason, Chris Dickson, Adam Coombes and Anthony Cook should not be struggling in the bottom three in the Isthmian League Premier Division table but Kedwell’s side collected their eleventh point of the season after only 14 games in charge of his first club, following an illustrious playing career.

Neil Cugley’s side leapfrogged over Bishop’s Stortford into fifth-place in the pecking order, with 30 points from 16 games, having played their part in a high-tempo, end-to-end Kent derby at Hayes Lane.

Folkestone Invicta took only 76 seconds to open the scoring through wideman Jordan Wright, before Cook notched his eighth goal of the season with a stunning 35-yard strike into the top far corner, before Reason’s classy finish gave Cray Wanderers the lead early in the second half.

However, Folkestone Invicta centre-half Callum Davies joined Wright on two goals for the season, prodding home at the far post following their sixth corner of the night.

Cray Wanderers were without Andy Drury, who should be back in the squad on Saturday, while illness prevented Folkestone Invicta’s nine-goal striker Ade Yusuff travelling to Bromley for the game.

“To be fair, I thought it was an open game, the whole game, especially first-half it was like they attack, we attack,” said Kedwell, 38.

“We didn’t deal with the overload in midfield, I thought second half we dealt with it really well. We went 2-1 up and I thought we did really well, especially in the transitions of nicking the ball and we could’ve been a bit better in the final third with the last little final pass through, we just didn’t get there.

“I’ve been feeling sorry for this group all season. We seem to be getting punished and it’s happened again today.

“The boys have got to keep going and believe in themselves. They’re a very good group, we’ve got a lot of experience in our group and they’ll just got to keep going and the results will come very soon.”

Folkestone Invicta assistant manager Roland Edge, 42, added: “I thought if you paid your admission today you got to watch a really good game.  I thought there was plenty of tempo in it, some good passing, some good attacking.

“I know we got it at the end, I thought we put them under a fair bit of pressure and possibly could’ve nicked it at the end when we hit the bar but two-all is a good result away from home really.

“I thought they were clinical when they had their chances and they had some good players, definitely their forward line caused us problems.  The lad on the wing (Yila) and going down the middle (Dickson).

“We made one mistake in the first-half and they scored and I think really we stayed in the changing room for the first 10 minutes of the second half and then they go 2-1 up and then it’s a chasing game.

“I think after that and I know they’ve got the lead and they try to see the game out, I thought we had them under pressure. We had them on the ropes but they defended well.  Luckily for us we got one with five minutes to go and maybe could’ve nicked it at the end.”

Folkestone Invicta were gifted the lead when Scott Heard was some 35-yards from goal in a central position and he threaded the ball through to striker David Smith.

Goalkeeper Turner rushed out to the edge of his penalty area and failed to gather and the ball ran loose for Wright to slot his shot into the bottom near corner of an open goal from 12-yards.

“I remember people saying it might’ve been a pen, I didn’t think it was a foul,” said Edge.

“Well, it was brilliant really because we’ve said we’ve got to get in and around Dave (Smith) and we’ve got to support each other, with a little bit more tempo.

“Dave gets the ball, whether it’s a foul or a fair challenge, Jordan’s right up beside him supporting him and able to put it in the back of the net, so that’s what you ask from your players all across the pitch to be partners and not individuals.

“It was a brilliant start, you couldn’t have asked for any more, but like most games it’s weird by scoring an early goal, often doesn’t help you.”

Kedwell added: “It’s just trying to drum into the boys we can’t keep gifting teams goals, it’s just got to stop!  I think that’s been us all season.

“I can’t say there’s been any goals this season where I think ‘they deserve that’, it’s been by our own mistakes and that’s got to stop because that’s where we are at the minute.”

There was a bit of pinball being played inside the Cray Wanderers penalty area before Heard fed the ball into Smith, who cut the ball onto his left-foot but his weak shot from 16-yards rolled into Turner’s gloves.

Cray Wanderers grabbed an equaliser in the 14th minute, a contender for goal-of-the-season.

Sam Skeffington – who is on loan from Vanarama National League Bromley – rolled the ball out to Cook.  He ignored Frederick Barton, who had made an overlapping run and Cook unleashed a stunning right-footed screamer across the diving Tim Roberts into the top far corner of the net from 35-yards.

“It was a great strike, Cookie’s got that in his locker,” said Kedwell.

“He wasn’t at his best tonight and he knows that but the quality that we’ve got in this group, out of nothing, you don’t have to have good games but when you get your chance, take it. 

“I’ve got players like Cookie and people like that who deliver a goal like that out of nothing.”

Edge admitted: “Hell of a strike and modern balls, they move all over the place so I give Tim that.  Tim’s been brilliant but I thought his positioning could’ve been better for it if I’m honest.

“I might be wrong, I might have to come back and speak to you next time and say no, I’m 100% wrong but from where I was it looked like the ball moved but it's a long way out.

“I feel like we got punished for two errors. The ball drops down to the holding midfielder who’s got too much time and he plays it out to Cook, whose got acres of space and then he’s got time to set it up and drill it and that’s what we did wrong. We squeezed the midfield well for about 85 minutes but on that one occasion we didn’t and they made us pay for it.”

Cray Wanderers then enjoyed a spell of dominance in what was a high-quality, open game.

Skeffington split open the Folkestone Invicta defence by playing the ball in behind Davies to put striker Dickson through on goal but Roberts came off his line to smother the ball.

Turner, 29, pulled off a brilliant double save to prevent Folkestone Invicta taking the lead in the 22nd minute.

Right-back Josh Vincent floated in a deep cross towards the far post where left-back Alfie Paxman found a pocket of space to crack a left-footed hooked volley towards the near post from 15-yards on the angle, which was superbly kept out by Turner, who then used a strong right-hand to ensure Kieron McCann’s follow-up didn’t nestle inside the same corner of the goal.

Kedwell said: “Earlier on Jack gives them a goal and then that’s what Jack can do.  He’s an unbelievable goalkeeper. I’ve played with him when he was 17 at AFC Wimbledon and I can see the quality that he’s got.

“It’s the same thing with him, he’s got to start getting clean sheets. He’s frustrated because he knows just how good this squad is and how good he is and we shouldn’t be conceding every week like we have been.”

Edge added: “The keeper did ever so well for me. I haven’t seen a keeper kick out of his hands as well as him in the league to be honest.  He got a lot of their attacks going.

“It was a great double save. We didn’t quite catch it sweet enough for the second one but it was one of those, you could see in the keeper’s eyes. We kicked it into the ground and he’s thinking is that going to loop over my hand but he’s still managed to get a good hand to it and make a good save.”

Reason bundled Smith over and referee Nathan Oakes awarded the away side a free-kick, which was floated in by Heard towards the far post and Vincent’s free-header was comfortably caught by the Cray Wanderers’ goalkeeper.

Folkestone Invicta went close to taking the lead in the 33rd minute when Wright released Heard down the right and his deep cross was controlled by Smith, who turned Beckwith before steering a low left-footed shot from a tight angle, which flashed across the face of goal and behind for a goal-kick.

“I thought Dave was brilliant tonight, I’ve got to say. He was a right handful and he's up against two centre-halves.  I mean Dean Beckwith is an experienced centre-back who has played League football and I thought he got the better of both of them today and he’s unlucky not to score,” added Edge.

Folkestone Invicta’s centre-half Matthew Newman clipped the ball down the right-channel to release Smith, who cut the ball back for Wright to whip in a first-time cross, which was met at the far post by McCann, the left-winger sending his downward header into the keeper’s hands at the near post.

Coombes, who played behind Dickson during the first-half before being withdrawn at the break, flashed a right-footed free-kick towards the Folkestone goal from 35-yards, which bounced past the left-upright.

Turner pulled off another brilliant save to frustrate Folkestone Invicta as half-time approached.

Newman clipped a long ball over the top of Cray Wanderers’ left-back Kasim Aidoo to put McCann through on goal and after cutting inside towards the corner of the six-yard box, McCann’s right-footed half-volley, which was destined for the top near corner, was brilliantly pushed over the bar by the right-hand of the diving goalkeeper, high to his left.

Edge said: “The keeper stood up to the task. Every time we managed to break their line, I thought we finished quite well and the keeper made a good save. You can’t do any more than that can you?”

Both Kedwell and Edge were asked their thoughts at the break.

Kedwell said: “Just said to them, just keep going. I changed the shape and matched them and told them ‘to go out and start believing in yourselves,’ and start getting on the ball more and being better in the transition.

“I think the first 20 minutes we did, we gave them so much trouble and we pressed them, we nicked the ball a lot of times.”

Edge added: “Well, whatever we said, was wrong! It was a really good 45 minutes because I thought we stretched them. I thought we played at a good tempo. We moved the ball well. I thought we mixed our play up really well.

“So half-time, it’s one of those where every coach and manager dreads when you say ‘more of the same’ because it’s very rarely that it happens but sometimes you have to give someone in there a little bit of stuck to get them motivated again but we literally said ‘you’ve got to keep it going.’”

Cray Wanderers dictated play at the start of the second half and missed some decent chances, the first coming just 74 seconds before taking the lead.

Reason’s sublime diagonal pass along the deck split open Paxman to put Cook in down the right-hand side of the box and after cutting into the box Cook drilled his right-footed shot screaming just past the top of the far post from 15-yards.

However, their pressure paid off as they took the lead in the 51st minute, with a great finish from Reason.

Folkestone Invicta switched off from a throw-in and Vincent allowed pacey winger Jamie Yila to race to the by-line before he put it on the plate for Reason, whose trickery and skill inside the box saw him slot the ball across Turner to find the bottom far corner from 10-yards.

“The finish for the second goal was unbelievable, a great bit of football but we just didn’t do enough of it,” admitted Kedwell.

“That is what I keep telling the boys, the quality we’ve got, we’ve got so much talent in this group that we can pull things off like that.  Going forward, I can’t knock them but we’ve got to start defending our goal better and start getting clean-sheets.”

Edge added: “He (Reason) showed his quality in the middle when he got it. Most would’ve swung at that or whatever, he did a little shimmy and poked it home. It was a good finish.

“Our right-back has gone to get the ball to take a throw-on, it’s not our throw on and they’ve thrown it over him and they’ve gone down the wing and put it in.  I know you always have to stay switched on but we actually put ourselves out of possession because we thought it was our ball.”

Cray Wanderers missed a glorious chance to kill the game off in the 12th minute.

Skeffington raced down the heart of the pitch with the ball at his feet before feeding Yila, who teed up Dickson in space just a couple of yards inside the box in a central position but Dickson lashed his first-time left-footed shot high over the crossbar.

“Another great chance! These are little small margins we’ve got to sort out.  You go 3-1 and it’s a different game.  We’ve got to start taking our chances,” insisted Kedwell.

Edge added: “I’ve got to say (Dickson) was a good player today as well. I thought every ball that went up to him stuck. He linked the play well, not only that he communicated well to his other players. It was a good chance. He smashed it up to the Glyn Beverly Stand didn’t he but I thought that was in the first 10 minutes when they actually had us on the ropes.”

Folkestone Invicta were also guilty of missing a glorious chance shortly afterwards.

Smith played the ball out to Paxman on the left and his whipped in crosses were of a high standard and the ball flashed towards the far post where Wright ghosted in to smash the ball over the crossbar from just two yards out.

“I thought we actually moved the ball quite well when we woke up in the second half, Alfie Paxman bombing on with Kieron McCann, Dave Smith getting the ball down and linking up with Scott Heard,” added Edge.

“I thought we were doing the right things, we were probing, a couple of great crosses from Alfie but we didn’t meet them or it just didn’t fall for us.

“Jordan Wright’s made a great run, Alfie’s whipped a great ball across and he skies it from two yards and there’s not a lot more you can do from that.”

Cook went down with a hamstring problem and smashed his hands on the pitch in despair before receiving treatment and once the lively Yila was substituted, Cray Wanderers seemed content and sat back with two banks of four and this gave Folkestone Invicta the signal to throw caution to the wind during the final embers of a great game.

When asked about Cook’s injury, Kedwell revealed: “Hamstring, but he said it didn’t feel like a tear.  He didn’t know if it was cramp or a little pull so until he’s seen the physio, I’m not too sure.”

However, Cray Wanderers missed another glorious chance in the 37th minute when Dickson fed Skeffington, who lobbed the ball into the box and a mistake from Newman opened the gate for substitute Jack Hanson, who lashed his shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat.

Cugley threw on striker Ollie Freeman for the quiet Ian Draycott and Freeman cut the ball back from inside the right-channel to Wright, who whipped in a cross towards the near post, which was flicked on by Heard and an unmarked McCann drilled his left-footed shot into the top of the side netting from a tight angle from the corner of the six-yard box.

Paxman fed McCann, who cut in from the left before drilling a right-footed shot towards the bottom near corner, which Turner got down swiftly low to his right and used a strong right hand to push the ball behind for a corner with three minutes remaining.

However, Folkestone Invicta forced three corners in quick succession and deservedly drew level with 43 minutes and 33 seconds on the clock.

Heard’s delivery from the left was precise and the ball landed at Davies’ feet at the far post and his shot on the turn nestled inside the bottom right-hand corner from four-yards.

“Out of all of the opportunities to get a goal, that was probably the scrappiest one,” admitted Edge.

“I feel that Alfie put some great balls in there that on another day you just tap them in but it just didn’t quite happen. 

“I think a draw is fair. I just didn’t think it would come from a corner and a scrappy little poke in to be honest.”

Kedwell added: “It’s frustrating because we won the header. We haven’t got that luck of it hitting him and going out or going into the keeper’s hands. It fell to him and no-ones on him and that’s why we’ve got to be concentrated for 95 minutes, that’s why we get punished every week at the minute.”

Folkestone Invicta kept probing and created some good chances to take three points back to the Kent coast.

Heard drove into the Cray Wanderers penalty area but his shot was charged down by Skeffington and was comfortably gathered by Turner.

The outstanding Paxman teed up Heard, who from 20-yards smacked a drive off Beckwith and the ball looped against the top of the crossbar.

Paxman whipped in an excellent cross from the left which flashed across the face of goal and Wright ghosted in at the far post and dragged his first-time shot agonisingly past the foot of the far post with the last kick of the game.

“Jordan will be a little bit upset. I thought he played alright today but he’s like a cheerleader when it hits the bar. I said to him ‘if you actually think it’s not going in, can you head it in?’

“The final one, that wasn’t as easy. Every manager and team will go ‘how have you missed that’?, But it’s a tight angle. He’s got a nice strike on it, he’s just pulled it a little bit wide. As long as they’re getting in the right place, you can’t really moan too much. He’s done well for us this year, he was in the right place. Today just didn’t quite fall for him really to finish it right.£

Reflecting on their fifth-place position in the table, Edge added: “I’ve had other people speak to me telling me how bad our run is – we’ve lost two games! It’s unbelievable!

“It’s a tough league, everybody can beat anyone and if you don’t turn up, you’re going to lose.

“I thought it was an even contest today. If I’m slightly biased I think that we slightly edged it but a draw was still a fair result.”

Kedwell hopes his side’s luck is starting to turn, adding, “I tell you four or five weeks ago, they’re scoring and we lose the game so hopefully our little bit of luck has changed now.  Like I said to the boys, we’ve got to stop all these chances and take our own.

“It’s a good point, a very good point against a team that are up there. Listen, they’ve only lost two (league) games all season so they’re a very good, very organised side. Neil Cugley has been there a long time (25 years), so he knows all the players, some of the players have been there a long time so they work for each other and they know each other’s games inside out. We’re like 14 games in with a bunch of new lads.”

Cray Wanderers are a point clear of Brightlingsea Regent and three clear of basement side Leatherhead but with the players in his squad and on tonight’s performance, Kedwell is looking only one way.

“On paper, of course we’re not (a bottom three side).  I do believe in these boys, they will get out of it (relegation trouble).  They’re a good bunch of boys, they just need to chill out and relax a bit more because they all want to win that bad.

“It's very frustrating for me to try to calm them down because it’s a great point and they look devastated in there because that’s how much they want to win and they know they shouldn’t be where they are.

“It will come, it will come, these boys won’t give in and when they get it right, they’re going to be a very good team.”

Both sides are in FA Trophy Second Round action at the weekend with Cray Wanderers welcoming second-placed Vanarama National League South side Ebbsfleet United to Hayes Lane, while Folkestone Invicta travel to Hampshire to play nineteenth-placed Southern League Premier Division side Hartley Wintney.

“You’ve got to turn up professional. It doesn’t matter what league they’re in because if you underestimate someone you come away with the wrong result. We’ve got to go there and we’ve got to build on what we’ve done today.  We’ve got to go there and earn their respect, I think,” said Edge.

“I liked us today, we looked really, really sharp in the final third and we’ve got to build on that because the way we played today was slightly different to how we played the majority of the season.”

Cray Wanderers: Jack Turner, Frederick Barton, Kasim Aidoo, Sam Skeffington, Dean Beckwith, Richie Danqah, Jamie Yila (Tom Hanfrey 81), Jai Reason, Chris Dickson, Adam Coombes (Cameron Brodie 46), Anthony Cook (Jack Hanson 68).
Subs: Daniel Uchechi, Fjord Rogers

Goals: Anthony Cook 14, Jai Reason 52

Booked: Jack Turner 63, Jamie Yila 76, Cameron Brodie 90

Folkestone Invicta: Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent, Alfie Paxman, Ryan Johnson, Callum Davies, Matthew Newman, Kieron McCann, Scott Heard, David Smith, Ian Draycott (Ollie Freeman 84), Jordan Wright.
Subs: Luca Borrello, Micheal Everitt, Connor Collins

Goals: Jordan Wright 2, Callum Davies 89

Booked: Matthew Newman 16

Attendance: 164
Referee: Mr Nathan Oakes
Assistants: Mr Jack Ridge & Mr Richard Baker