Cray Wanderers 1-1 Greenwich Borough - We're not expecting to go to Guernsey and have an easy day as they'll be fighting for their lives, says Greenwich Borough joint-manager Steve Sallis

Sunday 07th April 2019
Cray Wanderers 1 – 1 Greenwich Borough
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 07/04/2019 15:00

Bostik South East Division
Sunday 7 April 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

GREENWICH BOROUGH joint-manager Steve Sallis says he was proud of his players after they gate crashed Cray Wanderers title-winning party at Hayes Lane.

Cray Wanderers had to win to seal the Bostik South East Division title but they came across a Greenwich Borough side fighting for their lives at the foot of the table to retain their Isthmian League status in their third season at this level.

Sallis and Steve O’Boyle got their game-plan spot on by parking the bus by keeping 11 men behind the ball and hitting the champions-elect on the counter-attack.

Cray Wanderers have now gone four games without a win and have four games left to collect the two points to win their first league title since winning the Kent League back in 2004.

Referee Simon Finnigan was criticised by both managers for his performance and he gifted Greenwich Borough a phantom penalty, which was tucked away by winger Teshuane-Tyreece Walters, scoring his 15th goal of the season.

Greenwich Borough captain Rhys Paul was sent-off for his second booking with 17 minutes remaining – and the central midfielder climbed over the perimeter fencing towards the end of the game to allegedly assault Cray Wanderers centre-half Mitchell Nelson before a couple of stewards escorted him off the pitch.

Cray Wanderers equalised through Karl Dent’s finish and Tom Phipp missed a glorious chance to win the title but his penalty was saved by the outstanding Oliver Webber, 18, who has just signed a professional contract at Premier League club Crystal Palace.

“The crossbar hit at the end of the game has killed me off, it’s taken the wind out of my sails,” said Sallis after his side pulled off a shock result.

“To go down to 10 men with 17 minutes to go, I’m really proud of the boys in that respect.

“But I thought the referee was average all game!  It’s not about the ref, it’s about us and what we do but I thought the referee did help himself. 

“I thought Rhys Paul’s first yellow wasn’t for me – they got done on the counter just before half-time and the ref didn’t book him.  It set the scene really.  I thought the penalty that he gave wasn’t a penalty.

“It’s been an emotional day today. I’m so disappointed that sometimes referee’s take the limelight when two good teams – Cray are going on to win the league – but I thought from a defensive point of view we sat in and had a game plan that worked but all in all pleased with a point.

“Our goalkeeper made some great saves today, there’s no denying that whatsoever, but I thought we were a little hard done by with the referee. I thought he cost us!”

Greenwich Borough simply didn’t read the script.

Sallis said: “Without stating the obvious, we’re bottom of the league and scrapping for our lives, right. Anyone who thought we would come here and get rolled over today, we’re completely wrong and if you look at our side we’ve got some experienced players now, they’re not beneath this level.”

Cray Wanderers manager Tony Russell said: “My thoughts of it is, we gave everything that we’ve got. I couldn’t knock the players for that. I thought they were brilliant.  If they walked in here with a game plan, the ref couldn’t have helped them anymore if he tried!”

Cray Wanderers started the game on the front foot but a defensive mistake let in Greenwich Borough for the opening goal, timed at five minutes and 43 seconds.

Nelson’s attempted clearance from the right touchline inside his own half some 10-yards from the halfway line was charged down by lone striker Olutoyosi Olusanya, who cut into the penalty area. 

It appeared that Nelson got back to poke the ball towards the by-line but referee Simon Finnigan stunned the whole of Hayes Lane by pointing to the spot.

Walters stepped up and stroked his left-footed penalty into the bottom right-hand corner, sending Nick Blue the wrong way.

Sallis said: “We’ve had some penalties of late. It’s interesting because he’s put a couple down the middle of the goal for the last two pens.  We maintained in training that he may have to vary that up because Cray are detailed in their preparation and they would’ve known he did that but it was a good finish.”

Russell said: “Their nine, who was allegedly fouled, everyone knew it wasn’t a penalty!  Their nine (Olusanya) just walked over as the game kicked off and looked at me and said ‘I’ve just won the ball.’  He’s just booted it off and he’s won the penalty. It’s just ridiculous!

“Obviously, their game plan is to come here and put 11 men behind the ball. Perfect!  The only attack they’ve had in the first half and you get the sloppiest of penalties, which came from us having the ball and Mitchell getting robbed and getting back and him kicking it out of play. It’s just ridiculous mate!

“The referee made some strange decisions for both teams. I actually don’t think our penalty was a penalty. I think he was horrendous the ref!

“It’s fitting the game is on a Sunday because it’s like a pub game and that’s what it turned into and you end up (listening to both benches apealing to the referee) because you think they’re getting an advantage. It’s ridiculous, it’s a shame really.”

Greenwich Borough didn’t attack much in the first half and Paul slipped a free-kick into Olusanya’s feet, who played the ball back to Paul, who drilled his first time drive high and wide of the target from 35-yards.

“From our point of view, without stating the obvious, from a neutrals point of view we always knew we were going to be more dangerous without the ball and try to hit them on the counter so it was just a nice start,” said Sallis.

Greenwich Borough’s Jamie Stuart, 42, organised his younger team-mates well from the heart of defence and Cray Wanderers just couldn’t find a way through a well-organised unit.

Sallis was full of praise for the former Grays Athletic manager.

“Legend! Well, he’s been like that every week, he’s incredible. He’s the most professional person I’ve known - and I’ve been at Millwall for five years - pro or non-pro. He is a unique character. He’s been nothing but class. The guy’s a class act on and off the pitch so I’m very grateful to have him here.”

Nelson lofted a long ball up from the back and striker Joe Taylor latched onto the ball and beat his marker Geoffrey Okonkwo but his chip from a couple of yards inside the box from a central position looped up and was comfortably caught by Webber.

Webber took the p**s out of the referee and should have been booked on at least three occasions for timewasting.  One example of this game-management dark art was in the 25th minute when he took 25 seconds to release the ball and the referee awarded Cray Wanderers an indirect free-kick, which came to nothing as Greenwich crowded their box and cleared their lines.

Cray Wanderers created a chance to deservedly level in the 32nd minute.

Right-back Ben Mundele cut inside past a weak Bertie Valler and slipped the ball through to Dent, in behind Greenwich Borough’s left-back Conrad Lee and after beating Stuart at the near post his shot from a tight angle was blocked by Webber at his near post.

Russell said: “I think we’ll be talking about Webber as the game goes on.  Listen, the whole game played out exactly the same. We had all of the ball, they just defended and hoped to counter on us and that was pretty much the pattern.  Their goalkeeper made a really good save or we may miss a chance and that’s how it went for us.”

Sallis added: “Karl Dent. Best player on the pitch. Class act. Yes, Cray are very lucky to have him, really good player.”

Cray Wanderers linked up well outside the penalty area with Dent and Taylor exchanging passes before Jerome Federico drilled his right-footed shot just past the foot of the post from 18-yards.

Junior Dadson played a diagonal ball out to left-back Archie Johnson, who whipped in a great cross for Taylor, who got in front of Okonkwo at the near post to flick his header over the crossbar.

With Greenwich Borough parking the bus, it was down to Cray Wanderers to find the decisive moment in front of goal.

Holding midfielder Phipp played a long-ball forward, Johnson cut the ball back to Dadson, who cut inside to hit a right-footed dipping drive just over the top of the far post from 25-yards.

Greenwich Borough had lifted themselves out of the relegation zone with the lead but slumped back to the foot of the table at the final whistle.

At half-time, Russell said: “Just to keep calm. I didn’t want us to get anxious. I try not to get influenced by the scoreline and concentrate on the performance. What more can I ask from them?  We had 80% of the ball, we’re attacking, we’re on the front foot. 

“I said don’t force it, be calm, be patient, keep them working. We were making them work very hard to stay in the game.

“I was confident we could win the game, just keep moving the ball quickly, don’t take too many touches, move them about, switch it.  They’re having 11 men behind the ball. We’ve just got to make sure when we do get the chances and they do drop to us, make sure they’re ready to take them and that’s all I said.

“What I will say though, or all the first half possession, I don’t think we created a huge amount.  I think the occasion effected us and the referee.

“The problem is it’s not the fact that he’s a bad referee. If we score the first goal that’s them done. We’ll win as many as we want because they’ve got to come out of their shell and we’ll rip them to pieces. It was just crazy! It was the worst thing that could happen. You’re playing a team down the bottom who are fighting and good luck to them with that and the ref gives them the softest penalty ever and they’ve got something to hold onto.”

At half-time, Sallis said: “What was said at half-time? We just made a slight change about Jay Leader passing the straight pass into there so we stopped Olytoyosi running around to stop that pass and get the ball to the right centre-half (Nelson). No disrespect to the right centre-half at all, he’s not as good on the ball as Jay Leader and that was really our plan and in possession try to pass the ball better.

“I thought we passed the ball at times ok but I said to them at half-time we were disappointed with how we passed the ball today.”

Greenwich Borough were far more adventurous during the first 20 minutes of the second half, with their bus driver going for a tea-break.

Cray Wanderers, who won the corner-count by 10-0, created an opening in the 51st minute, when Dent swung in the ball from the right and Leader rose to loop his header over the crossbar from 16-yards.

Webber showed a clean pair of hands right down beside the foot of his near post to hold Mundele’s left-footed angled drive from 30-yards on the hour-mark.

Sallis added: “I haven’t seen their right-back (Mundele) before. I really liked him, he’s very athletic, very powerful and a good player.”

Greenwich Borough wasted a  couple of glorious chances to send shockwaves around the Isthmian League.

Cray Wanderers are top of the table with 72 points, while Greenwich Borough are bottom with 27 points.

Jack Sammoutis whipped in a great free-kick from within the left-channel and Olusanya played his header over the crossbar from four-yards out in the 64th minute.

“We weren’t sure who got the contact there. It was a bloody good chance. We were behind it in the dug-out,” added Sallis.

Cray Wanderers’ substitute striker Jordan Clarke cut in past Miquel Scarlett and stroked a low drive through a crowd of players from 16-yards, which was held by Webber whilst on his knees.

But Greenwich Borough missed another excellent chance to snatch the victory at the halfway point.

Walters broke straight down the middle of the pitch before playing the ball on the outside to Sammoutis and threaded the ball through to striker Olusanya.  He was about to pull the trigger inside the box but Paul got in the way in an attempt to grab all the limelight and the ball trickled harmlessly wide of the right-hand post from eight-yards out.

Sallis said: “It was a good counter-attack, a great opportunity to nick a goal on the counter-attack and we just let ourselves down there in the last 20 minutes.”

Russell added: “The pattern was developing. It was us that we’re attacking and then if we got sloppy with a pass they would counter on us and we would have to get back and defend. That was pretty much how it went.

“They’ve got some pace on the break and you’re always going to leave yourselves vulnerable because they’ve got to create an overload and maybe one of our centre-halves will step in and play which leaves one-on-one but we have to be brave. We live and die by that and it was hard because they’ve got some pace on the counter-attack and we were leaving ourselves open at times.”

As expected, Cray Wanderers woke up from their slumber with the introduction of left-back Tom Carlse off the bench turning out to be an inspiration change from Russell.

Clarke slipped the ball through to Carlse, who cut inside and drilled a right-footed shot towards the bottom left-hand corner from 16-yards.  However, Webber pulled off a great save, diving swiftly low to his right and grabbing hold of the ball before it crossed the line.

Carlse was keen to impress his former club, having played for Greenwich Borough before moving to Ashford United.

“On his right-foot! The goalkeeper’s gambled, I’ve seen him go down too early. If Carlse went down the other side it was in.  To be fair he done really well when he came on. He was going to start today but he had a few personal problems”

Winger Federico floated in a cross from the right and Clarke’s header from the edge of the six-yard box in the middle of the pitch was comfortably plucked out of the air by Webber.

Paul took an age to walk off the pitch after he was shown a yellow and then a red from the referee for a high boot that smacked into Dent’s face and sent him crashing to the ground.

“Since we went down to 10 men, it was always going to be a struggle,” admitted Sallis.

“They’ve got some good players, they were patient in possession and worked the overload when they can get it but I just thought we dug in and contained them.

“We talked about momentum at half-time actually. We talked about if a goal does go in for them – it is possible as in when you’re playing a top team – that we’ve got to dig in and stop momentum.

“No doubt about that being a booking at all. It was late and it was high. We were more concerned about his first booking, which we didn’t think was a booking at all. It was innocuous.  I’d say good players draw more fouls and referee’s don’t understand this. Cray have got good players so when they drop their shoulder and duck inside, unfortunately good players get more free-kicks.”

Russell felt a red-card should have been shown for the offence.

“He’s kicked his head off and he’s booted him in the head and got a yellow card! I don’t know why he hasn’t got a straight red?!”

Cray Wanderers kept pressing and their equaliser was despatched with 31 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Leader released Carlse down the left channel and he put it on a plate for Dent, with a low cross which flashed across the face of the goal and Dent smashed his first time shot through a crowd of players to the left of Webber from eight-yards out.

Russell said: “I thought Denty was brilliant second half, he was class! Then you think you’ve got them, I must admit. I thought we’ve got them and we had a good few chances.”

Sallis said: “I thought Olutoyosi was exceptional today. He played on the shoulder, defensively he done a great job and the only thing I am disappointed about for their goal, the only time Olutoyosi didn’t track Jay Leader and Jay Leader comes into the middle of the park from centre-half and that was the only time we didn’t track him the whole game. It shows Cray’s quality that.

“I’m not going to slap Olutoyosi, it will be not be picking up Jay Leader, who he’s been told to do in training 1,000 times but I can’t blame Olutoyosi too much, he’s been brilliant today.”

Greenwich Borough were on the ropes and it was only a matter of time that dominant Cray Wanderers would get the win that their attacking play deserved.

Luke Leppard (substitute) was booked for a foul on Clarke and Dent’s right-footed free-kick from 23-yards just outside the D deflected off the wall and was helped behind by Webber’s right arm.

Dent delivered his sixth corner of the game and Leader rose to steer his header over the crossbar from a couple of yards out at the far post.

Greenwich Borough substitute Kayne Roberts floated in a free-kick from the left but Stuart sent his left-footed volley screaming across Blue and past the far post.

Greenwich Borough gifted Cray Wanderers a penalty when Nelson was heading towards a dead-end close to the by-line inside the penalty area and Leppard pushed Nelson over and the referee pointed to the spot.

The penalty was taken with 41 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock but the pressure was all too much for Phipp. Score and Cray Wanderers were champions.

Phipp stroked his right-footed penalty towards the bottom left-hand corner but Webber dived to his right and struck out his arm to flick the ball behind for a corner.

Russell said: “Look, from my account, I think it’s a soft pen if I’m honest. Not as soft as their pen. If that was given against me, I’ll be disappointed and then you’ve got that to win the league, that’s it, isn’t it?

“But you put yourselves in those situations. It is what it is. Phipp’s taken penalties for us all season and he crashes them in and for some reason he’s decided to…

“They’ve delayed it. They were doing all the tactics all game. They were trying to spoil it as much as they can and the penalty they were crowding around the ref, it was all going on.

“Phipp’s played enough football to know the game, he understands. I thought he’d score and I just thought he maybe let it get to him.”

Sallis said: “The penalty save was a massive save.  I actually thought Tom Phipp took a really good penalty there to be fair. We were behind it. It was rocketing in to the bottom corner.  He’s smashed it in the corner, it was going in the inside netting so it was one of the best saves I’ve seen from a penalty in a long time.”

The heroic Webber produced a world-class save to frustrate Cray Wanderers again with 44:32 on the clock.

The excellent Dent floated in a cross from the right and Carlse hooked a fierce left-footed volley towards the roof of the net from 14-yards, only for Webber to make a vital save and received a slice of luck as the ball kissed the top of the crossbar and dropped behind for a corner.

Sallis said: “I don’t know how he’s managed to tip it over the bar! Ollie’s been nothing but brilliant. I have to thank Crystal Palace for letting us having him.  Mark Bright there has done us a favour by letting us have him until the end of the season and Ollie’s just a good character.  He’s just been given a professional contract and I think that showed today that he is a professional goalkeeper and he’s going to have a great career in the game.”

Russell added: “It’s hit his chin and hit the crossbar and that’s when you know it’s not your day!

“A point-blank volley, he hit it almost too well and he’s hit the goalie’s chin and it’s gone up. Usually they go up into the roof of the net but it’s kissed the crossbar.”

Clarke dived inside the penalty area in an attempt to con the referee thinking that he was tripped inside the box by Greenwich Borough right-back Scarlett, which brought a coming together of both sets of players.

Wearing a dark tracksuit, the shameful Paul jumped the perimeter fencing and went to allegedly assault Nelson before being taken away by two stewards.

Russell said: “I’ve heard he’s just come back from quite a long ban apparently and he got sent off and run onto the pitch trying to attack one of my players!

“I was disappointed with their bench. Any player who is prepared to come on the pitch and do that he’s got that in them, you know that as a manager you know that as a group that he’s got that in him 100% you would know.  There’s only a certain number of players who would re-enter the field to go and attack a player. 

“So my argument to their bench is you must know him?. When he gets sent off they’ve got five random adults all standing up all screaming random stuff so take one of them in with him just to get hold off him because if he’s that much of a livewire you’ve got to do that, you’ve got to take that responsibility.

“I’ve never seen anything like it! There’s no way they don’t know his character. If he’s got sent-off I’m sending one of my staff and make sure he stays in that dressing room and make sure he doesn’t do anything silly but I got a silly remark back. It is what it is. We all have our own standards.”

Sallis said: “I think it’s important I have on the record that I apologise to Tony Russell about that.

“We had a little bit of a ding-dong pre at the end of the game. I’ve got no excuses about him having the hump about that at all.

“What I was trying to explain to Tony as a bench we got that wrong. I said to him it was a hustle and bustle game, there was loads of things going on and we got that detail wrong as a football club.

“Rhys Paul shouldn’t have been anywhere near it and I’m disappointed in Rhys Paul’s behaviour to be honest because it was poor practice from him.”

Greenwich Borough almost snatched a shock victory at the death when a mistake from Leader let in Roberts, who smashed a right-footed rasping drive over Blue’s left-shoulder and crashing back down off the underside of the crossbar.

Sallis said: “He hit it well against the underside of the bar. I didn’t see that coming. It was a great strike and there would have been pandemonium if that had gone in!”

Russell added: “Jay Leader’s nowhere around him, he’s not seen the guy and and he’s played a short back-pass and all off a sudden they’re breaking. He’s hit it so hard if that’s on target it breaks the net and that’s how quickly football can turn around.  We let it go too carnage. I was trying to tell the boys on the line to calm down!”

Cray Wanderers have four games left to get the two points that they need to win the title, starting with next Saturday’s home game against fourth-placed side Ashford United.

The Wands then travel to Three Bridges (20 April), host Sevenoaks Town (22 April) and travel to Hythe Town on the final day of the season.

Russell said: “It’s my 200th game in charge, maybe it’s written in the stars?

“After that Horsham game, it’s the first time I’ve seen us celebrate and then I spoke to the boys the other week saying if you think you’ve won it, we need to focus.  We play here today, we had 80% of the ball, we could play them another 10 times and we could beat them.  Sometimes in football you just don’t get your day.”

Greenwich Borough remain bottom but are now level on points (28) with their next opponents Guernsey, who host Borough next Sunday.

Greenwich Borough finish with two home games against Whyteleafe (20 April) and Hastings United (27 April).

“I haven’t thought about it yet because we were worried about today’s game so over time we’ll reflect and have a drink in the bar and have a look at them,” said Sallis.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do next week. One game at a time sort of thing. I know they will be a goal in it next week. We’re not expecting to go there and have an easy day, they’ll be fighting for their lives but I thought our tactics and hopefully will do us the business over there. As much as you want to run around and it’s a cup final, you’ve got to use your brain.”

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Archie Johnson (Tom Carlse 69), Tom Phipp, Mitchell Nelson, Jay Leader, Junior Dadson (Jordan Clarke 56), Sean Roberts (Freddie Parker 79), Joe Taylor, Karl Dent, Jerome Federico.
Subs: Lee Lewis, Barney Williams

Goal: Karl Dent 77

Booked: Tom Phipp 90, Jordan Clarke 90

Greenwich Borough: Oliver Webber, Miquel Scarlett, Conrad Lee, Tony Robinson, Geoffrey Okonkwo, Jamie Stuart, Teshaune-Tyreece Walters, Rhys Paul, Olutoyosi Olusanya, Jack Sammoutis (Luke Leppard 76), Bertie Valler (Kayne Roberts 70).
Subs: Olalekan Bankole, Ryan King-Elliott

Goal: Teshauane-Tyreece Walters 6 (penalty)

Booked: Rhys Paul 8, Luke Leppard 79, Teshuane-Tyreece Walters 87

Sent Off:  Rhys Paul 73

Attendance: 274
Referee: Mr Simon Finnigan (Folkestone)
Assistants: Mr Andrew Connor (Farnham, Surrey) & Mr Luke Pullen (Farnborough, Hampshire)