Cray Wanderers 1-1 Hastings United - Someone will get a good hiding sooner or later, warns Cray Wanderers boss Tony Russell

Wednesday 13th September 2017
Cray Wanderers 1 – 1 Hastings United
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 13/09/2017 19:45

Bostik South Division
Wednesday 13th September 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS boss Tony Russell warns someone will get a good hiding after playing Hastings United off the park and having to settle for a point at Hayes Lane.

Winger Brandon Scott was outstanding for the home side and scored following a cutting 40-yard solo run to give Russell’s side the lead.

Somehow, battered Hastings United grabbed a point through Curtis Gayler’s first half penalty, who like Scott scored his first goal of the season, and Adam Hinshelwood’s side held on claim a point that they certainly didn’t deserve.

“Very much the story of our season unfortunately,” admitted Russell, 38, when he was asked whether this was a case of two points dropped.

Unbeaten Cray Wanderers wasted the chance to climb from ninth to sixth in the Bostik South pecking order with a win and remain in the top nine with 10 points from six games, while Hastings United remain in 15th place with eight points.

“If I’m honest, I think we’ve drawn four now and three of them have been pretty much similar to that,” added Russell.

“It’s a funny one. I’ve just spoken to the boys (out on the pitch after the game) and in a way the performance was excellent.  They’ve been doing everything that we’re asking them to do but it’s just that final third at the moment.

“Bradley Stevenson is a young pro from Gillingham. I’ve seen him in training, he’s got a great shot on him.  Brandon Scott can finish, Shaggy (Michael Power) can finish, Karl Dent can finish. At the moment, they’re hitting goalkeepers or screwing them wide or whatever. We’ve just got to persevere and keep backing them and when they click…

“I think our standard has been excellent this year, we’ve got a real good squad and I think someone will get a good hiding sooner or later.”

Hastings’ left-back Ollie Black, 17, will be having nightmares after being outclassed by Scott for the 21 minutes and 47 seconds that he was on the pitch.

Michael Power released Scott down the right and the winger raced towards the by-line, skipped past Black’s tackle on the by-line, cut inside and from eight-yards placed his left-footed shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner to give Cray Wanderers the lead with 12 minutes and 18 seconds on the clock.

“A great hold-up play from Shaggy, it was nice football from the back into Shaggy. That’s his first start because he’s missed the first three weeks because he’s got married and he was on his honeymoon, so he’s not quite match-fit yet.  We wanted to throw him in there because he’s got that little bit of class. He span and put Brandon in.

“To be fair to Brandon, there’s a reason why the left-back got taken off after 22 minutes because Brandon was walking past him.  He had the walkthrough Bromley and it was a great finish. 

“Brandon’s a fantastic young player.  I thought today was one of his better games this year. Sometimes he can let himself down with his consistency but I thought today, baring he should’ve scored four or five but then I couldn’t added two or three other names to that, that could’ve done the same.”

Cray Wanderers’ right-back Ben Mundele, who is currently having trials at Sky Bet League One side Charlton Athletic, easily brushed past Black to centre towards the near post for Power to control before his dinked shot was parried by keeper Charlie Horlock and Karl Dent stroked his shot against the outside of the foot of the right-hand post.

Russell admitted: “Do you know what? I lost count. I can’t even remember all the chances! There were so many!  I’d love to know how many shots we had on goal because it was ridiculous!

“I don’t think Hastings are the worst side in the world, they’re alright, but we put them to the sword today.  We pinned them in and played some good football as well. 

“I’m disappointed we didn’t get the three points but I like standing on the line and watching my sides.  I thought people paid their money and they got a very good Cray performance.”

Bradley Stevenson pinged a diagonal from left-to-right to Scott, who sped past Black to cut into the box and his low right-footed drive stung Horlock’s fingers at his near post, the Hastings keeper gathering the hot potato at the second attempt.

Hinshelwood saved Black’s embarrassment when he took him off and replaced him with Sam Cruttwell, who forced Scott to drop inside for the rest of the first half before the former Southend United winger exploded back into life during an impressive and dominant second half performance.

Cray Wanderers keeper Nick Blue made a comfortable save to prevent the unmarked Sam Adams from scoring with a left-footed drive immediately after Black’s withdrawal.

Dent pinged a sublime 60-yard diagonal out to Stevenson, who cut inside and unleashed a low right-footed angled drive from the left which was tipped around the post by Horlock, diving low to his right.

Russell said: “Brad must’ve come inside and had a shot three or four times so there were a couple where he screwed them wide, one the goalie saved and I’m trying to work out the one you’re talking about.  We got a lot of ball out to both side players. They were cutting inside and getting past their full-backs.”

But dominant Cray Wanderers switched-off and gifted Hastings United an equaliser with 35 minutes and 50 seconds on the clock.

Russell pointed the finger of blame to Dent, who lost possession further up the pitch and Hastings broke away and seconds later Jay Leader stuck out his leg to bring down striker Davide Rodari just inside the box.

Gayler accepted the gift, sending Blue the wrong way with his right-footed penalty, calmly slotting the ball just right of centre.

Russell said: “It’s a hard one because we’ve brought Joe Vines in this year and he’s been brilliant. He was fuming!

“The ball went into Denty and we’ve got our over-lappers and he tried to flick one around the corner and lost it and we’ve over-committed, not over-committed because we’ve got our full-backs overlapping so we’ve just got to roll it back to Ben Mundele.

“It’s a hard one at half-time whether to have a go at him about that because it lead to that. He’s messed a flick up, we’ve got runners going past him and they’ve broke and we’re scrambling a little bit to get back and Leaders left a lazy leg out. It’s definitely a pen, no qualms.

“Leader’s better than that, leaving a lazy let out. It’s  the same as Saturday (being held to a goal-less draw at home to Chipstead), we dominate the game, we could’ve been four or five up and we didn’t put them away.”

Hastings enjoyed a good spell towards the end of the first half and right-back Michael Aziaya released Rodari down the right channel and his shot flashed across Blue and past the far post.

When asked about his thoughts at the break, Russell replied: “We addressed the gaol straight away!  I thought Hastings worked incredibly hard just to stay in the game. We were moving them everywhere.  I felt they were going to get tired and I thought there would be more areas for us and we kept having to reiterated on what we were working on really.

“We were brilliant for 30 minutes and the goal stung us in the face.  We cleared our heads a little bit.”

Cray Wanderers missed an early second half chance when Mitchell Nelson threw the ball into the box, the ball came back out to him and he was given time to float in a cross from the right and Leader steered his free header past the post from 12-yards.

Hastings United almost grabbed the lead following a set-piece nine minutes into the second half.

Cruttwell swung in a quality free-kick with his left-foot from the right and Adams steered his free header towards goal from 10-yards, forcing Blue to tip the ball over the bar to deny the recent arrival from Hythe Town.

“We didn’t have Bluey on Saturday, it’s great to have him back,” said Russell.

“His distribution with his feet, I think people get carried away with his feet, he’s actually a good goalkeeper as well and it was nice of him to show his skills off.”

Cray Wanderers swiftly went up the other end and called Horlock into making a save just 55 seconds later.

Scott drove at the Hastings defence through the heart of the pitch and Dent seemingly took the ball off his team-mates feet and strode forward and his left-footed shot from the edge of the six-yard box was blocked by Horlock’s legs.

“Carbon copy, exactly the same on Saturday,” recalled Russell, who has set Dent a target of scoring 19 more goals this season.

“He’ll be disappointed because he could’ve scored on Saturday and could’ve scored today. He probably should’ve done but what I will say is I thought he had an excellent game.  His work-rate was good.  We need to have that little bit of quality in the final third. He’s certainly got that. He scored 20 goals when we won the League at VCD.  He can do that and I’ve set him that target and I think he’ll go close.”

Hastings United fashioned an opportunity in the 65th minute when Rodari held off his marker down the left-channel before cutting in and cutting the ball back to an unmarked Gayler, who’s right-footed shot from 16-yards lacked conviction and bounced into Blue’s hands for a comfortable routine collection.

Zak Henry and Lea Dawson sat in front of Cray Wanderers’ back four and offered their team-mates insurance while Cray’s two wide men, Scott and Stevenson were a threat while Power struggled to make an impression on his return from his honeymoon.

Henry fed Stevenson, who cut inside and drove his low right-footed drive flashing just past the foot of the near post from the edge of the box as the half reached its halfway mark.

Hastings gave the ball away in the final third and Dent slipped in Scott in behind Cruttwell but he dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post as Hastings were on the ropes holding on for some oxygen to keep them alive.

The post-match interview with Russell lasted 21 minutes and 18 seconds  tonight and the Cray Wanderers boss said: “From minute one to probably minute 32 we’ve created loads of chances.  From minute 45 to 92 we’ve created loads of chances.   We could sit here and talk about it but I’m sure when people read through this they’re going to get bored of ground-hog day.

“It’s flattering!  There’s a few teams in this league where you can have lots of chances against, there are one or two teams that are cannon fodder, I’m not naming names.

“We’ve just done that against Hastings, they’re a big club, a good side. That’s what I’ve said to the boys about gaining confidence off that.  You’ve just absolutely ironed them out without scoring.   People will see the result, one-all but the only positive we can get out of that is we go under the radar.  People will look at the table and think we haven’t had a good start, we probably haven’t got a great side and we know if you look deeply into those games I know we’re a good side and it will only get better and there’s a lot more to come from us.”

The longer the game went on, the inevitability that Hastings United would have one last chance and tuck it away.

With 10 minutes left, Dent swung in a free-kick from the right and Nelson rose to glance his free header past the far post from eight-yards.

Dent swung in his seventh and last corner which was met by Dawson’s downward header, which was bravely held by visiting keeper Horlock.

Nelson launched a trademark long throw into the Hastings penalty area and Dawson’s low shot from 10-yards was held by the visiting keeper.

That Hastings United chance arrived with 47 minutes and 22 seconds on the clock – when the post saved Cray Wanderers’ bacon.

Central defender Ollie Rowe delivered a free-kick into the box from inside the centre-circle, Leader cleared his lines and Adams took a touch, cut inside and stroked a left-footed drive from 25-yards towards goal, crashing off the right-hand post with Blue beaten.

“My biggest worry towards the end was us over committing, trying to get that win and getting picked off, which we nearly happened at the end,” admitted Russell.

“We so wanted that goal, we wanted that justice and all off a sudden, you could see it, they break away and bang, we lose 2-1.

“If we’d have lost here I probably would’ve sat in that dug-out and given the game up because something you scratch your head as a manager. What do you have to do?  You talk to the players, they’re so exhausted and they’ve given everything for you.

“We felt on the bench the only way they looked like scoring was from a set-play. I don’t think they looked dangerous from open play. We just kept talking about stop giving silly free-kicks away.

“You would’ve been distraught, absolutely on your knees. It was like slow motion. We’ve been in lots of games where we create loads of chances and miss loads.

“My friend has got a theory on us because of the way I am, we’re very relaxed in front of goal.”

Rodari drove a late chance past the near post for Hastings at the end but this was certainly two points dropped by Russell’s men.

Russell revealed that striker Danny Haynes, who scored 30 goals last season, hasn’t featured yet this season owing to work commitments.

Russell said: “Danny works for the underground. He’s got to start work at nine o’clock to finish off a project until this station is finished so until that project is finished, he’s unavailable.   He’s on contract with us but we’ve got to wait until he comes back. He would’ve had a field day today, I’m sure.”

Cray Wanderers travel to unbeaten Lewes on Saturday, a side that are in third-place in the Bostik South table with 14 points from six games, a couple of points adrift of leaders Walton Casuals.

Russell added: “I watched them the other week, they’re not a bad side but it’s a hard place to go.  I’ve never done well there as a player or a manager. They’re a feisty bunch. We went down there last year, we went – up and had two sent-off and lost 4-1, so I hope for better than that.”

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Lea Dawson, Mitchell Nelson, Jay Leader, Bradley Stevenson (Aaron Rhule 70), Zak Henry, Michael Power, Karl Dent, Brandon Scott (Timi Osibodu 90).
Subs: Freddie Parker, Marcus Evans, Joe Vines

Goal: Brandon Scott 13

Hastings United: Charlie Horlock, Michael Aziaya, Ollie Black (Sam Cruttwell 22), Lee Carey (Ansu Janneh 57), Tom Climpson, Ollie Rowe, Curtis Gayler (Billy Medlock 75), Jack Dixon, Davide Rodari, Sam Adams, Sonny Dullaway.
Subs: Bradley Pritchard, Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa

Goal: Curtis Gayler 36 (penalty)

Booked: Michael Aziaya 44, Davide Rodari 59

Attendance: 162
Referee: Mr Scott Rudd (Dartford)
Assistants: Mr James Paternoster (Sidcup) & Mr Daniel Proctor (Dartford)
Coverage Sponsored by: