Cray Wanderers 1-4 Hornchurch

Sunday 15th October 2023
Cray Wanderers 1 – 4 Hornchurch
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 15/10/2023 15:00

Isthmian League Premier Division
Sunday 15 October 2023
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

Unbeaten Hornchurch moved six points clear at the top of the Isthmian League Premier Division table by beating Cray Wanderers at Hayes Lane.

Steve Morison’s men banked their eighth league win (26 points) in their 10th outing to move clear of second-placed Chatham Town, while Neil Smith’s Wands remain in the bottom five on nine points from 10 games after suffering their seventh league defeat of the campaign.

Cray Wanderers travel to Potters Bar Town, the side immediately beneath them in the table (nine points from 11 games), next Saturday, while the other three sides in the relegation zone being Kingstonian (seven points from nine), Concord Rangers (three points from 10) and Haringey Borough (one point from nine).

Hornchurch striker Liam Nash scored twice in nine minutes to put Hornchurch in the driving seat, despite Cray Wanderers starting the game on the front foot.

Cray Wanderers pulled a goal back through winger Nyren Clunis’ fifth goal of the season, from a free-kick, but any chance of Smith’s men replicating their play-off semi-final fight-back at Bridge Avenue was killed off.

Tom Wraight emphatically smashed in a penalty to notch his fifth goal of the season, before central midfielder Ollie Muldoon’s stroked home a free-kick to give Hornchurch a flattering 4-1 victory at Hayes Lane.

Cray Wanderers started the game on the front foot and dominated the first 10 minutes but Hornchurch weathered the early storm and called goalkeeper Shaun Rowley making a comfortable save in the 13th minute.

The impressive Nash was inside the final third and his hooked pass put former Folkestone Invicta striker Ade Yusuff through (in behind centre-half Cameron Black) and his left-footed angled drive from 12-yards was comfortably saved in Rowley’s midriff.

Hornchurch were clinical in front of goal, taking the lead with 22:04 on the clock.

Isolated Cray Wanderers striker Gary Lockyer gave the ball away in midfield before Nash played the ball out to right-winger George Saunders, who took a touch before whipping in a great cross which was drilled first-time into the bottom right-hand corner by Nash.

Hornchurch’s holding midfielder Joe Christou launched a long throw into the penalty area, which was cleared out to an unmarked Muldoon, who smacked a dipping right-footed hooked volley just over the crossbar from 30-yards.

Christou then slipped a through ball in behind Black to play in Wraight, but Rowley came off his line and smothered the ball at the feet of the Hornchurch’s left-winger.

Hornchurch doubled their lead, with 31 minutes and 54 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Nathan Green reached the channel and put in one of his trademark crosses and Nash jumped over Jack Holland at the near post to bury his header into the top-left-hand corner from six-yards.

Cray Wanderers squandered a golden chance to pull a goal back following the third of six corners.

Frankie Raymond floated the ball in from the left and George Porter rose above Wraight and powered his header just over the crossbar.

Raymond’s first time pass released winger Ellis Brown down the left and he cut inside Christou before drilling a right-footed drive just over the outstretched arms of visiting goalkeeper Dion-Curtis Henry and the crossbar from 20-yards.

However, Hornchurch missed a gilt-edged chance following the first of five corners, on the stroke of half-time.

Wraight floated the ball in from the left, deep towards Nash, who was left in acres of space inside the box and he drilled the ball through a crowd of players towards the bottom far corner, only for the ball to bounce off Yusuff and flashing across the keeper and past the far post from very close range.

Hornchurch went into the half-time interval with a two-goal advantage.

The versatile Anthony Cook was deployed in the right-back slot and his brave defending ensured the Urchins score their third goal in the 13th minute.

Wraight’s free-kick was cleared to Yusuff, lurking on the edge of the D and the ball was finally worked to Nash, who was set to drill his shot into the near corner, only for Cook to put his body on the line and make a vital block, the ball hitting high into the side netting and behind for a goal-kick.

Cray Wanderers were given a lifeline as they pulled a goal back with 19 minutes and 17 seconds on the clock.

Clunis crossed a free-kick into a crowded penalty area and the ball was allowed to bounce into the bottom far corner, goalkeeper Henry stretching to his left but couldn’t prevent the ball creeping into the net.

Holland’s long ball out of defence released Clunis down the left and he cut to the by-line but with two team-mates inside the penalty area, he chose the wrong option and drilled the shot straight at Henry from a tight angle.

Morison brought on Femi Akinwande at the break and the wideman played a part in a Hornchurch chance inside the final 20 minutes, cutting in from the right and riding a tackle before setting up Nash, who scooped his shot over the crossbar from the edge of the D.

Brown charged towards the edge of the Hornchurch penalty area but produced a poor shot, dragging it harmlessly past the left-hand post but Green’s late challenge ensured referee Lawrence Torz-Brown brought play back for a free-kick.

However, Raymond’s resulting left-footed free-kick kissed the five-man wall and went behind for a Cray Wanderers corner.

Hornchurch killed off their hosts by scoring their third goal with 33 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock.

Raymond gave the ball away and Muldoon’s long ball split open Holland and put Yusuff through on goal. 

Rowley came off his line and Yusuff went down easily and the senior assistant flagged for a penalty and the referee booked the Cray Wanderers goalkeeper, despite protests.

Wraight smashed an emphatic left-footed penalty high into the top left-hand corner.

Hornchurch scored their fourth goal, timed at 36:17.

Clunis was adjudged to have tripped Muldoon some 25-yards from goal and Muldoon stroked his right-footed free-kick off the base of the left-hand post, the ball crossing the line to give Hornchurch a 4-1 victory.

The home side went close just five seconds into stoppage time following their penultimate corner.

Clunis put the ball in from the left and attacking midfielder Porter found a pocket of space at the near-post but his flicked header flashed across the face of goal and just past the far post.

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Anthony Cook, Jamie Mascoll (William Wood 85), David Ijaha, Cameron Black, Jack Holland, Ellis Brown (Yahaya Bamba 85), Frankie Raymond, Gary Lockyer, George Porter, Nyren Clunis (Lee Lewis 90).
Subs: Tom Penfold, Sam Wood

Goal: Nyren Clunis 65

Booked: George Porter 56, Jamie Mascoll 69, Shaun Rowley 77, Frankie Raymond 78

Hornchurch: Dion-Curtis Henry, Jordan Clark, Nathan Green, Joe Christou (Emmanuel Harvest 80), Nathan Bertram-Cooper, Ryan Scott, Tom Wraight, Ollie Muldoon, Ade Yusuff, Liam Nash, George Saunders (Femi Akinwande 46).
Subs: Joe Wright, Lewwis Spence, Lennon Peake

Goals: Liam Nash 23, 32, Tom Wraight 78 (penalty), Ollie Muldoon 82

Booked: Nathan Bertram-Cooper 6, Jordan Clark 27, Ronnie Hanley (coach) 45, Ade Yusuff 54, Ollie Muldoon 56, Femi Akinwande 90

Attendance: 324
Referee:  Mr Lawrence Torz-Brown
Assistants: Mr Joe Alborough & Mr Robert Alderton