|Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane|
|Cray Wanderers||2||Ian Rawlings 24
Michael Power 37
|Croydon||1||Ashley Martin 42|
Cray progress despite Odlum's heroics
IN FRONT of their
lowest crowd of the season, Cray Wanderers progressed into the third round of
the Ryman League Cup with victory over plucky Croydon at Hayes Lane tonight.
Making six changes to the starting eleven that drew 1-1 at Banstead Athletic on Saturday, Cray manager Ian Jenkins justified his team selection with Saturday's more important Ryman League Division One home clash with Bashley in mind.
he still fielded a strong squad, against their struggling neighbours.
He explained: "I made a lot of changes tonight, thinking about the Bashley game.
"Obviously we need the three points on Saturday. I've got a big squad, people have got to play or otherwise they will end up leaving the club.
"I need to play them to keep them fit so when they are asked upon in these big games they can come in and do the job."
Croydon goalkeeper John Odlum, however, thwarted the home side three times in the opening thirteen minutes.
After seven minutes he tipped over Jamie Wood's 25-yard shot before he made a smart block at his near post.
Drew Watkins' mazy-run, got him past two visiting defenders on his way to the by-line, sending over a cross for Leigh Bremner whose scooping header was brilliantly blocked at his near post by the goalkeeper, although he did have a defender on the post.
Jamie Wood's penetrating run down the middle saw him play the ball to Michael Power on his left and the former Thamesmead Town striker centred for Bremner whose shot was blocked by the inspired goalkeeper.
Cray finally made the breakthrough in the 24th minute. Watkins' won the right to win the free kick instead of James Millar, sending a pin-point free kick to the far post and skipper Ian Rawlings' planted a header past Odlum, scoring his first goal of the season.
Another fine save from the visiting goalkeeper came nine minutes later when he flew to his left to keep out Matt Woolf's fierce free kick from the edge of the D.
Cray deservedly doubled their lead in the 37 minute when Jamie Wood received a Odlum goal kick inside the Croydon half and he played the ball to Bremner on the right hand side. His cross found Power and from twelve yards - the striker back in the side - got to the ball before his marker to fire home.
Cray skipper Rawlings presented the Surrey visitors a gift, which they kindly accepted, three minutes before the break, when he let in Ashley Martin who slotted home from eight-yards.
Despite an early flurry of chances in the first six minutes of the second half, it took nearly 30 minutes for the next one to arrive.
Buoyed on by his strike, Martin let rip from 25-yards only to see his effort go well wide of Steve Northwood's goal before Odlum denied Power from 25-yards and Jamie Wood - a left-footed 22-yard effort.
With Croydon's Alfie Nunn and Ahmet Akdag - who captained England's Homeless World Cup Winning team - making inroads down the right-hand side, the visitors lacked someone up front who could hold the ball up, and bring the pair into play.
The long awaited next chance came twelve minutes from time.
Midfielder Woolf played the ball upfield, which was flicked on by Bremner for Jamie Wood to latch onto. The pint-sized striker beat Akdag and Warren Burton before drawing another fine save from Odlum at the near post.
Two minutes later, Power connected with Watkins' corner kick, but blazed over from close range when it seemed easier to score.
Although not an impressive second half display, Cray are in the hat for the third round of the League Cup in their first ever season in the Ryman League.
Jenkins agreed and added: "The first half was brilliant, played really good football, sloppy goal to give away and the second half was about not conceding and going through."
Cray, who have drawn six out of their eight home league games, are expecting a tough time against Bashley - a side that won 5-3 when they played Bromley at Hayes Lane in August.
Jenkins said: "It's going to be a tough game. Obviously, they are a big and strong side.
"Our league form at home isn't good winning wise, we've drawn a lot of games, so we'll need to be on our toes and need to get back and start getting some points in the league.
"There is nothing to be scared off. We haven't played a team yet who have dominated us, so I'm quite happy with the way we've been playing."
Ian Rawlings, who last started a game when Camberley Town were beaten 5-1 in the first round of the League Cup, played the entire game tonight, pleasing his manager.
Although at fault for Croydon's goal, Jenkins admitted: "He needs games Rawlo. He is still a little bit away from the sharpness he should be getting as a centre half.
"He has had a game tonight, maybe start Saturday, but we'll see how he trains tomorrow night and see how he reacts to tonight's game.
"It's good to have him back, he scored a goal as well, and he is club captain."
Cray Wanderers: Steve Northwood, Drew Watkins, Ian Rawlings (Capt), Rob Browning (Sam Wood 71), Danny Bower, James Millar, Matt Woolf, Dean Morris, Michael Power, Leigh Bremner, Jamie Wood. Subs: John Myatt, Joe Francis, Mark Hammond, Ross Lover
Croydon: John Odlum, Ahmet Akdag, Mark Walters, Ryan Hackett, Warren Burton (Capt), Bronek Oabrowa, Alfie Nunn, Ray Tolfrey, Ashley Martin (Ricky Ogbogbo 71, Stuart Read 90), John Pomroy, Andre McCollin (Shane Sinclair 41). Subs: Carl Perkins, Kris Hollidge
Referee: Gary Johnson
Assistants: P Andrews & I Cooper