Cray Wanderers 6-1 Soham Town Rangers - If we do what we do best then it's hard to live with us, says Cray Wanderers assistant Ray Powell

Sunday 13th March 2016
Cray Wanderers 6 – 1 Soham Town Rangers
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 13/03/2016 15:00

Ryman League Division One North
Sunday 13th March 2016
Stephen McCartney reports form Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS assistant manager Ray Powell says the four play-off places in the Ryman League Division One North are up for grabs after thrashing Soham Town Rangers at Hayes Lane.

The Wands climbed into fourth-place in the table on 74 points and have eight league games remaining to cement their place in the play-off zone as they bid to join champions-elect AFC Sudbury in the Ryman Premier League.

Powell took charge as first team manager Tony Russell was involved in a car crash on his way to Bromley, but later tweeted he was back at home.

Cray Wanderers raced into a 2-0 lead inside the opening eight minutes through striker Jacob Erskine, 27, who is on loan from Dulwich Hamlet and Michael Frieter, 20, who scored his fourth goal for the club following his release from League One side Gillingham.

James Duckworth netted his ninth goal of the season as Cray Wanderers went into the interval with a commanding 3-0 lead.

Karl Dent scored his sixth goal of the season early in the second half before fifteenth-placed Soham Town Rangers pulled a goal back through Ryan Sharman’s solo goal, the central midfielder’s ninth goal of the campaign.
Soham Town were reduced to ten-men when striker Robbie Mason picked up two yellow cards within a minute.

Powell was rewarded for bringing on substitutes Leigh Bremner and Jamie Mascoll, who added two late goals as Cray Wanderers stretched their unbeaten run to four games and kept their promotion hopes alive.

“Good performance all round if I’m honest,” said Powell after the club’s 22nd league win of the season.

“First 45 minutes, I thought we’ve dominated it from the first minute to the last 45 minutes. Quite pleased with the way the boys stood out.

“Pleased with the all-round performance today. We haven’t been scoring open goals as late and it’s good to see we got six today so it’s good all round.”

Soham Town started the game with plenty of possession, but Cray Wanderers were clinical and opened the floodgates after only 190 seconds.

Lea Dawson played the ball out of defence up to Dent, who fed Frieter, who put Erskine through on goal and with only keeper Sam McDermid to beat he slotted his right-footed shot underneath the keeper to find the bottom far corner from 16-yards.

“It’s always nice to get an early goal in games, it settles everyone down,” said Powell.

“He’s always going to do alright at this level. It’s how he, if he wants it. He will play well no matter what. It’s about himself at the end of the day.  We know he can be the key, hence why we’ve gone for him. Gavin Rose, Dulwich Hamlet’s manager, is a good friend of mine and Tony and we always keep in touch.”

Duckworth was then released down the left and after twisting and turning right-back Josh Townshend his shot from a tight angle was cut out by McDermid, low to his left.

But Cray Wanderers raced into a 2-0 lead, with only 7 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Duckworth was again released down the left and he cut the ball back across the face of goal.  Soham Town Rangers’ left-back Ross Paterson was guilty of a woeful sliced clearance that fell at Sean Roberts’ feet, whose low shot was blocked by Paterson and Frieter steered his deflected shot into the back of the net from six-yards.

“It’s a bit of luck if I’m honest with you, which we ain’t had for the majority of the season but luck’s always going to turn around so 2-0, good start,” said Powell.

Soham Town were to be denied by a vital save from Cray Wanderers goalkeeper Nick Blue within four minutes.

Sharman slipped through a delicious low pass in between central defenders Ben Payne and Jay Leader to put Callum Russell through on goal but his dinked shot was blocked by Blue and Mason’s follow-up shot deflected off Adetayo Osifuwa and flashed just past the foot of the left-hand post.

“It’s always hard for a keeper to keep their head but I always trust in Bluey, hence why he’s been with us for the last three or four years wherever me and Tony have been,” said Powell.

“Bluey, I think, personally is the best goalkeeper in the league.”

Salim Relizani – who was Soham Town Rangers’ best player on the day – delivered a deep corner from the left which came out to Will Lawton, who produced a centre defender’s finish by hitting his right-footed drive over the bar from 22-yards.

Central midfielder Dawson played the ball up to Dent, who passed to Frieter, who played the ball into Erskine.  The physically strong striker held off Lawton and produced a sublime flicked reverse pass to put Frieter through on goal. His right-footed drive deflected off Jordan Gent and only just cleared the top of the right-hand post.

Relizani’s near post corner from the left was flicked up by Lawton, which looped up and Blue was able to make a catch at his near post.

Relizani then played the ball inside to Sharman, who flashed his right-footed drive just past the foot of the left-hand post from inside the D.

Cray Wanderers’ left-back Grant Basey swung in a free-kick from the right which was headed out but Dent failed to keep his volley from 12-yards down.

Soham Town Rangers played good football on the deck and were the better side when the score was 2-0.

They built up down the right through Mason and Sharman but Relizani’s curler from 25-yards looped up and landed into the banks of empty terracing.

Blue’s left-hand prevented Soham Town Rangers from scoring with a great chance, timed at 35:57.

Sharman released Paterson who reached the left by-line and cut the ball back across the face of goal towards an unmarked Mason.

Blue got down low to his left and pushed the ball away with a strong left hand, doing enough to ensure Mason placed his shot just the wrong side of the foot of the right-hand post, the striker then smashed the ball against the advertising hoardings in despair.

Powell said: “When you’ve got Bluey as your last defender, me and Tony have always had faith in Bluey, not only for his kicking ability but his shot stopping as well, it’s second to none.

“He doesn’t get a lot of credit, keeper’s don’t get a lot of credit unless they’re in the game making 102 saves every game but you know what you get with Bluey, he’s a seven out of 10 no matter what.”

It proved to be a crucial moment in the game as Cray Wanderers made it 3-0 with the clock showing 36:49.

Russell launched a long throw into Cray Wanderers’ penalty area from the left and Roberts swept the ball up field. It was a lovely pass to Erskine, who laid the ball to Dent, who played a sublime diagonal pass over to Duckworth.  He had an awful lot to do still outside the box as he cut past two defenders and slotted his right-footed shot past McDermid from 15-yards.

“It’s about time for Duckworth as well and Denty,” added Powell.

“My front four, whatever you want to call them, they need goals and that’s what they’ve been lacking the last few weeks so I’m pleased for Duckers. He works hard. When things aren’t going for him he does work hard and gets a lot of credit for that but he needs to start scoring goals.”

Cray Wanderers should have made it 4-0 just before half-time.

Basey clipped the ball up and Erskine controlled the ball with his chest before bulldozing his way down the heart of the pitch before setting up Frieter, who dragged his shot across the keeper and past the far post from 16-yards.

When asked about his half-time thoughts, Powell replied: “Keep doing what we’re doing! I didn’t have much to say really. If you’re complacent and you give them a goal then you’re in for a game so keep doing what you’re doing and we should get more goals.”

Dent got a sight of goal after only 59 seconds but his shot on the turn from 22-yards failed to hit the target.

But some woeful defending gifted Cray Wanderers a fourth goal, just two minutes and 40 seconds into the half.

Gent sliced his clearance from the right hand side of his penalty area which landed at Frieter on the edge of the box. He played the ball inside for Dent to sweep his first time shot from 17-yards, which nestled into the bottom far corner of the net.

“To be fair to Mike it’s a nice cute touch for the lay-off for Denty in his path,” said Powell, who is pleased the Frieter is back at the club as he aims to get his career back on track.

“Michael’s got back into the side after a few weeks out. He’s had issues with Gillingham. Pleased to have him. He brings something else to our team which we’ve lacked in the last couple of weeks, steadiness in the middle. He done really well.

“It’s always going to be hard for a young player to get released so what me and Tony said you might as well finish off the season with us. He’s been with us for the majority of the season on and off unless he was injured or anything like that but he’s in the shop window now and if we can push him the right way people are always going to come down and look at what we’re doing and look at our players and things like that. He’s good enough, if his mentality’s right, he’s good enough to get a pro contract.”

Powell was not happy with the manner that Soham Town Rangers pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute.

Sharman picked the ball up on the edge of the centre circle and was allowed to run into the penalty area before placing his right-footed shot across Blue into the bottom far corner from 16-yards.

“To me that was the only disappointing thing in the 90 minutes of today’s game,” barked Powell.

“He went through three of us or four defenders! One of you have got to make a challenge, even if it’s a foul to bring him down for a yellow card! Just too easy to walk through my defence like that. I wasn’t happy. I told them I wasn’t happy and it’s horrible to concede a goal as s**t as that,” before apologising for swearing.

The ball bounced up inside the Soham Town Rangers penalty box but all that Frieter could do was loop his header into McDermid’s hands from inside the six-yard box.

Relizani capitalised on Payne’s slip to drill his deflected right-footed angled drive past the post for a corner.

Relizani whipped in the resulting corner from the right but referee Oliver Jackson blew his whistle as Mason and Dawson clashed in an ugly incident inside the penalty box.

Mason was shown his second yellow card, while Dawson picked up a booking as Soham Town Rangers played the last 29 minutes with ten-men.

“I think Dawes was splitting him and Payne up and Daws got booked for it,” claimed Powell.

“Listen when you all go in with all guns blazing like that anyone can get picked out but after just having a yellow card the boy (Mason) must’ve been silly to get involved in something like that because he was already in the ref’s book.  Fair play to the ref if he’s seen something, not often I say that!”

Relizani cut Soham’s fifth of seven corners back to Paterson, but his right-footed effort sailed over the crossbar.

Cray Wanderers scored their fifth goal with 77 minutes on the clock through Bremner’s sixth goal of the season.

Dawson released Mascoll down the left and he produced a cracking cross towards the far post which Bremner planted his header into the top right-hand corner from four-yards.

Powell was full of praise for Mascoll, a second player who is on loan from Ryman Premier Leaguers Dulwich Hamlet.

He said: “He’s added a different dimension to us from the left hand side. He loves getting a cross in. He’s got a sweet left foot. He’s young, he’s got a lot to learn as well and be patient but he’s one for the future, I’m sure he is. It was a good ball and Brems got his header.”

Bremner has now scored 133 goals in 336 appearances during his spells at Cray Wanderers.

Powell said: “To be fair to Brems, Brems is Brems. If you know Brems he will score them, he will miss them, that’s Brems all over. At the end of the day his eyes are open and he’s just come back from suspension so a goal will do him.”

Cray Wanderers completed the rout just 156 seconds later.

This time substitute Ben Hunt was released down the right hand side and he cut the ball back across the face of goal for Mascoll to slide his shot into the bottom left-hand corner from six-yards.

“Fair play to Ben, as a striker when you’ve got two fighting for one positon what we’ve got and he’s been in for the last five weeks it’s frustrating for him. We ain’t dropped him or anything like that. It’s just freshening things up, which is what we needed to do.  I see his frustration. Fair play to him. He will run his socks off for you and what a great ball it was for Jamie to get the sixth.”

It was almost seventh-heaven for the Kent club when Hunt once again cut in from the right and centred for Mascoll, but his shot was parried by McDermid, diving low to his right, and Hunt was in an offside position by the time he lashed his shot into the top left-hand corner.

To their credit, Soham Town Rangers maintained their eye-pleasing brand of football-on-the-deck style and kept plugging away, but Dylan Williams and Gent (who stormed down the tunnel still wearing his captain’s armband when he was substituted) failed to hit the target.

AFC Sudbury lead the table on 92 points from 39 of their 46 league games played. 

The play-off places are occupied by Thurrock (80 points from 38), Harlow Town (76 points from 37), Cray Wanderers (74 points from 38) and AFC Hornchurch (72 points from 39).

Thurrock arrive at Hayes Lane on Tuesday night and host Cray Wanderers on Easter Monday, 28 March.

“Thurrock are a big club, always going to be there or there abouts come the end of the season so we’re looking forward to a good, tight game,” said Powell.

“One game at a time for us, what’s the worth at looking at eight games? You never know what happens around the corner. If we can pick up three points every game then yes we’ll be in the play-offs, but one game at a time.

“Listen, you know as well as I know, it’s quite tight. If you go on a run it’s anyones. You might as well say Sudbury’s probably three games away from winning it and then it’s the other eight teams to fight for it, all the way down to Tilbury. Tilbury (in ninth on 63 points form 39 games) are not out of it yet. Thamesmead (in eighth on 67 points from 38 games) are on a nice little run, all to play for.”

Cray Wanderers sealed promotion into the Ryman Premier League back in 2009 when a beautiful Simon Osborn free-kick beat Metropolitan Police 1-0 in the play-off Final at Hayes Lane.

Osborn, now 44, watched today’s game, and when asked whether he is looking to get back into management, the former Crystal Palace, Gillingham and Bromley midfielder said: “Don’t think that will happen. Just happy watching and if someone needs advice pass it on.  I’m always here if needed.”

Osborn and the 183 inside Hayes Lane were impressed by Cray Wanderers’ finishing today and Powell hopes that continues for their remaining games this season.

Powell added: “If we do what we do best then it’s hard to live with us! We beat ourselves, that’s what I say. 

“You cut the silly mistakes out, you’re always going to get chances at this level, it’s a matter of putting them away or you get punished at the other end.

“You could see today’s game it could’ve been nine or ten with the amount of chances we had but today we took our chances. In other games we don’t take our chances and make a silly mistake.”

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Adetayo Osifuwa, Grant Basey, Jay Leader, Ben Payne, Lea Dawson, Sean Roberts, Karl Dent (Jamie Mascoll 62), Jacob Erskine (Ben Hunt 46), James Duckworth (Leigh Bremner 74), Michael Frieter.
Subs: Jai McKinley, Sam Faulkner

Goals: Jacob Erskine 4, Michael Frieter 8, James Duckworth 37, Karl Dent 48, Leigh Bremner 77, Jamie Mascoll 79

Booked: Lea Dawson 61, Adetayo Osifuwa 66

Soham Town Rangers: Sam McDermid, Josh Townshend, Ross Paterson, Will Lawton, Jordan Gent (David Theobald 88), Jack Watson, Callum Russell (George Darling 46), Ryan Sharman, Dylan Williams, Salim Relizani.
Sub: Robbie Nightingale

Goal: Ryan Sharman 52

Booked: Salim Relizani 29, Jordan Gent 48, Robbie Mason 60

Sent Off: Robbie Mason 61

Attendance: 183
Referee: Mr Oliver Jackson (Sittingbourne)
Assistants: Mr Ivan Gelov (Hythe) & Mr Kane Dempster (Deal)