Grays Athletic 0-2 Cray Wanderers - This side has got a lot of fight and quality so they're doing the club proud at the moment, says Cray Wanderers boss Tony Russell

Wednesday 01st November 2017
Grays Athletic 0 – 2 Cray Wanderers
Location Parkside, Park Lane, Aveley, Essex RM15 4UA
Kickoff 01/11/2017 19:45

The Buildbase FA Trophy First Qualifying Round Replay
Wednesday 1st November 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Parkside Stadium

CRAY WANDERERS manager Tony Russell says his side are doing the club proud after booking their place in The FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round with a professional performance against Grays Athletic.

Russell’s men extended their unbeaten run to 11 games as two goals from striker Michael Power ensured they booked a trip to unbeaten Southern League South East Division Portsmouth-based side Moneyfields in the next round on 11 November.

Cray Wanderers needed a last-gasp leveller from Ralique Lawrence at Hayes Lane to grab a 2-2 draw at the weekend but they did the job against Jamie Stuart’s side that are in midtable in the Bostik North with 17 points from 15 league games.

Cray Wanderers, who made their first visit to Aveley’s new Parkside home, went into the game in fifth-place in the Bostik South with 27 points from their 14 league outings.

“I thought it was a very professional performance,” said Russell, who join AFC Hornchurch, Hertford Town, Canvey Island, Brentwood and Potters Bar in coming away from here with wins under their belts over the previous winners of this competition.

“I wouldn’t say we were outrageously good, I just think we were very professional in what we done.  We played the ball at our tempo and we felt when we had to go at them.

“Second half we upped it and we should’ve scored a few more.  In terms of an away performance, pretty good.

“We was in control, we were very controlled in what we did and we went forward when we were ready to go forward. We kept the ball and frustrated them.  I was really pleased with the whole performance of the 90 minutes from a manager’s perspective was exactly what you want.  We controlled the game with the ball, we limited them to very little, frustrated them and then when we were ready we picked them off.”

And they started the game on the front foot, playing against a Grays side that started with three central defenders, two wing-backs, a couple in midfield and three attacking men.

Cray Wanderers’ left-back Barney Williams played the ball inside for holding midfielder Zak Henry, who drilled a right-footed shot towards the top right-hand corner from 35-yards, which was caught by goalkeeper Lamar Johnson with only 186 seconds on the clock.

Russell said: “Zak’s been a tremendous asset for us. He’s come through our youth structure, through the under 21s and I brought him in last year slowly, dipped him back out.  I thought he was tremendous today, not just that chance.  I thought the energy he gives us and the way he breaks the play up was really good.”

Williams then played a one-two with Lawrence, cut onto his right-foot and stung Johnson’s fingers with a right-footed drive from 22-yards.

Cray Wanderers deserved to take the lead, timed at 10 minutes and 29 seconds.

Michael Frieter floated in a free-kick some 35-yards from goal on the right to find an unmarked Lea Dawson, who planted his header across goal from eight-yards and match referee Stephen Bates claimed Power got the decisive touch before the ball sailed into the far corner.

It appeared at first that Dawson was to go down as the goalscorer but it only became clear during the post-match press conference that Power was credited with the goalscoring touch.

“The ref’s told me it wasn’t him (Dawson), it was Shaggy (Power) but I don’t know,” said Russell.

“We asked the ref at half-time, the boys wanted to know and then he said the forward, the nine got the final touch.  I couldn’t see from how far I was away.

“Dawson’s said he’s headed it, thought it was him but the ref’s saying he wouldn’t give it, it’s Shaggy’s goal, so it looks like it’s Shaggy’s goal. 

“I thought deservedly so. I thought we were clinical when we had to be clinical.”

Grays Athletic, who went into this game five games unbeaten, offered very little in the final third and most of their attempts were drilled harmlessly high over Nick Blue’s crossbar.

Russell said: “I thought we controlled the game. They were coming deep trying to hunt us so when they did get the ball they were just pumping it to no-one.  They had a couple of pop shots from long range gut there was nothing really in there to worry us.  I thought the biggest fear was being too complacent, sometimes we take a bit of a liberty with a couple of passes and nearly got caught out.”

Sam Cross floated in a 27th minute corner from the right towards the far post for central defender Richard Halle to guide his towering header wide.

Frieter ignored to sweep the ball out wide to find right-winger Jerome Frederico, slipping the ball into Power’s feet and his left-footed drive from a couple of yards inside the box was held by Johnson, low to his left.

Grays Athletic – back-to-back FA Trophy winners back in 2005 and 2006 -  finished the first half on the front foot.

Barry Cogan over-hit a cross from the right, Adeyinka Cole retrieved the loose ball behind him, burst into the box and drilled his curling shot around the top of the far post.

An example of the home side’s poor finishing was evident on the stroke of half-time.

Cross, who played on the left of a three-man central defence, delivered a deep cross towards the far post where right wing-back James Folkes drilled a first time shot past the near post when left unmarked.

But Cray Wanderers went into the break a goal-up but Russell said he wanted more from his impressive side.

“I thought in the final third we wasn’t quite good enough,” admitted Russell.

“I thought we had enough of the ball to create more chances than we did, that was the chat we had, I don’t think we created enough chances.

“I thought the two wide players (Lawrence and Frederico) weren’t going enough for me in their movements.

“I thought for all our possession and I said to them at half-time, listen, I’ll take a 1-0.   We’ve not got a problem.  You don’t get extra money for the amount of goals you score.

“I wanted the boys up top to have a little bit more belief in themselves, we’ve got pace out wide, let’s get balls in the box and get your shots off.  I wanted to hurt them a little bit more and I thought second half we did exactly that.”

Blue gathered low down at his near post as Grays striker Tim Monshheju drove in a cross-come-shot from a tight angle close to the right by-line, inside the opening four minutes.

Blue launched the kick to find Williams down the left touch-line, he slipped the ball through to Lawrence, who cut inside and his low angled drive was held by Johnson at his near post.

“I thought second half we looked a lot more dangerous,” said Russell.

“They had to work very hard just to run after that ball and gaps started to appear and all of a sudden we started to get in more frequently. All off a sudden we looked like we were going to score every time we went forward.”

Power missed a glorious chance to double Cray Wanderers’ lead in the 63rd minute.

He stole the ball off Muguo on the half-way line, sprinted with the ball straight down the middle of the pitch but his left-footed shot from the edge of the box was comfortably saved by Johnson, when he only had the home keeper to beat.

Russell said: “It was angry at that one, he’s in on goal, he’s got away from the centre half, got across in front of him and I know how good he is as a finisher.  It was a nothing shot!”

Dawson swept the ball out wide to Lawrence, who cut inside and placed his angled drive just past the foot of the near post.

Cray Wanderers wrapped up the game with their second goal with 20 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock.

They ditched their passing game and went direct as Blue’s kick upfield was won in the air by Lawrence, who slipped the ball through for Power to stride forward before rifling his right-footed shot screaming into the top right-hand corner from 16-yards.

“That’s more like him!  When he went through I turned to Karl Dent (in the dug-out) and said that’s what I expected from him, why couldn’t he do that in the first half?

“It was good movement.  Ralique has come in off the wing, gone past one, the centre half has been sucked over. Shaggy touches it out of his feet and rifles it into the top corner.  You felt it was probably game over then.  It just knocked the stuffing out of them.”

Power’s two goals tonight make it 13 for the season.

Russell added: “He missed the first three weeks of the season, he was on his honeymoon so he’s ratio is pretty good.”

Grays Athletic then decided to up their game and Monsheju flashed his right-footed drive across Blue and just past the foot of the post from 22-yards.

Blue pulled off a great save to slam the door shut just after the half-way mark.

Halle launched a long ball out of defence, Cole lofted the ball into the Cray penalty area and Blue stepped on to his six-yard box pitch marking and dived to his right to palm over Callum Ibe’s fierce shot from 12-yards out.

Russell admitted it was the wake-up call his side needed.

“That’s what we said at half-time, for all our dominance if you don’t put the teams away that can happen and all off a sudden it goes 1-1 and then there’s a lift.

“But Bluey is Bluey and we’ve got to give him something to do. It’s about time he made a save.  It was a very good save. We just switched off and from that point on it woke us up again and all off a sudden we kicked back into life.”

Blue then made a comfortable save as Monsheju made a pocket of space just outside the penalty area with little over ten minutes left on the clock.

Russell revealed that substitute striker Freddie Parker is currently on trial at Premier League side Cray Wanderers, having scored five goals for the club so far this season.

Parker pointed to where he wanted Mitchell Nelson to launch a big kick upfield, spun his marker and his chip was blocked by Johnson, as he emerged off his line.

“He’s only just turned 17 in July.  I think he’s a special talent for his age,” said Russell.

“He’s currently training with (Premier League club) Crystal Palace.  With Gary Hillman (our chairman), the connection there, they’ve got first refusal but there’s a lot of people interested in him. How long will they keep hold of him? I don’t know.

“Grays’ centre half was a big strong centre half and he was handling him, he was holding him up and backing into him.  He was a big strong boy but Freddie dealt with him physically and for a seventeen-year-old to do that, he hardest thing is to hold him back. We’ve got to give the best opportunity for him to try to go on.

“Any kid at his age doing what he’s doing in men’s football, I think he’s scored five goals at 17 years-old at this level, I don’t think we’re a bad side and he’s starting games and anyone doing that will tell you people are going to be interested in him.

“There is a lot of people coming and watching his games and want him to go training and we’ve told Crystal Palace he can go with them and I think he was with them yesterday and played a game and came on at half-time and scored two.  We want to give Freddie the best opportunity to fulfil his dream if he can, if not he can be a legend at Cray Wanderers.”

Grays Athletic nearly made it a nervous injury time when substitute Kai Brown smacked his volley just past the left-hand post after right-back Ben Mundele failed to cut-out substitute Ibe’s cross from the right wing.

“That one was right at the death and Ben just switched off. He ain’t well, he’s all flued up so we’ll allow him to do that.  The cross came over, he just got in front of him and that would’ve been harsh if they’d have scored.  I think we deserved that clean-sheet.

“We were disappointed on Saturday, we let in two sloppy goals and we’ve not let many goals in this year. We were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go and this side has got a lot of fight and a lot of quality so they’re doing the club proud at the moment.”

Cray Wanderers return to Bostik South action as they travel to tenth-placed South Park on Saturday, before a trip to seventeenth-placed Hastings United follows three days later.

Cray Wanderers have now banked £6,250 in prize money after beating Horsham (8-0) and Grays Athletic in The FA Trophy this season.

“When we lost in The FA Cup to Sevenoaks, the club is as good as gold, the owners are very supportive even when we’re losing games.  They’re brilliant with me, we’re like friends now so we want to give something back financially, I want to do my bit,” said Russell.

“Now we’ve got a team unbeaten in their league, top of their league, let’s have it, all day long.  We’ll represent our league and we’ll show them what we’re about.

“Listen, you don’t go unbeaten in whatever league it may be if you ain’t good – but so are we.

“I’m annoyed now that I’ve got to do a midweek trip down there but I might ask the chairman for some money to cover my petrol.

“We’ll have a bit of fun with it.  Listen, we’ve put the two rounds in so we’ve put some money back in the pot now, it’s bonus time.  If we can get a few more rounds in it will be brilliant. We’ll go there and we’ll have a go.  Confidence is up.  I’ve got a very honest group of players who give everything and I know the club are proud of them as well because the owners can really feel it this year, they love the boys we’ve brought in.”

Grays Athletic: Lamar Johnson, James Folkes, Sam Cross, Stanley Muguo, Jack Fowler, Richard Halle, Barry Cogan (Suley Zuhdu 67), Adeyinka Cole, Kieran Bishop (Callum Ibe 46), Tim Monsheju, Joao Carlos (Kai Brown 72).
Subs: Ryan Mahal, Glenn Poole

Booked: Kai Brown 72

Cray Wanderers: Nick Blue, Ben Mundele, Barney Williams, Zak Henry, Mitchell Nelson, Jay Leader, Ralique Lawrence, Lea Dawson, Michael Power (Freddie Parker 75), Michael Frieter, Jerome Frederico (Kyron Lightfoot 75).
Subs: Marcus Evans, Timi Osibodu, Karl Dent

Goals: Michael Power 11, 66

Attendance: 152
Referee: Mr Stephen Bates (St Albans, Hertfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Gary Baker (South Ockenden, Essex) & Mr Christopher Cooper (Basildon, Essex)

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