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|Saturday 21 August 2004||Ryman League
|Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane|
Cray frustrated as chances go astray
CRAY WANDERERS were left frustrated as a whole host of missed chances and a good display from visiting goalkeeper John Odlum, denied them three points at Hayes Lane today.
With four points already in the bag from their opening two Ryman League Division One games, Ian Jenkins' side are by no means afraid of the higher level of football, and had ample chances to run up a high score.
They made their intensions known as early as the fourth minute when teenager Ross Lover unleashed a fierce drive from 30 yards, which was brilliantly tipped over the bar by the goalkeeper.
Four minutes later, in another raid from the home side, former Thamesmead Town striker Michael Power struck a 26 yard drive which was comfortably saved by Odlum.
More chances fell Cray's way with Jamie Kempster heading into the side netting from former Dover Athletic midfielder James Millar's corner, before Danny Bower, making his full debut after his switch from Whyteleafe, unleashed a long throw into the Croydon penalty area but Power's flicked eight yard header was saved.
Kempster in space on the right, squared the ball to Power inside the penalty area, but as he swung his right foot at the ball, it struck his standing foot and another chance went begging.
In the 18th minute, the impressive Lover swung in a corner which was headed towards goal by Power, but he was denied his second goal of the campaign, by a goal-line clearance from Kris Hollidge.
Cray comfortably dominated the opening twenty minutes of the game, and another chance for Power came from Millar's swept in cross, but once again, his header was off target.
Just before the half-hour mark, a quickly taken free kick from Millar set up Power whose half volley from 22-yards flashed wide of the left post.
Croydon grew in confidence as the first half progressed and made inroads into the Cray penalty area after 33 minutes.
Luke Milner played the ball outside to Terry Davies but Cray stopper Dean Mann came rushing off his line but failed to grab the ball from the players feet. Davies delivered a cross from the right by-line but Milner kicked thin air from his overhead kick, and got injured for his efforts.
Odlum was spotted by the assistant referee for a handball outside the penalty area as he launched the ball upfield.
However, he redeemed himself by making a fine low save from Lover's free kick, literally inches outside the penalty area, on the left hand side of the D.
Croydon edged nearer the Cray goal in the final three minutes of the first period.
Davies stole the ball off Whelan and was forced wide before cutting the ball back to Hollidge and his hanging cross to the far post bounced over his skipper Warren Burton and lively right-winger Marriot Lusengo blasted wide when well placed.
Milner's pin-point corner from the right found Burton but he planted a header narrowly wide of the right post from eight yards.
Millar, already booked in the first half, was lucky not to be sent off within three minutes of the second half, when he clattered into Odlum as the goalkeeper collected Gray's pumped long ball into the Croydon penalty box.
Clearly hurt from the challenge, Odlum needed treatment but was visibly in pain for the rest of the game and Cray tested him in the 53rd minute but the stopper punched out Power's shot, after the striker made room for himself on the left hand side of the penalty area.
A rare attack from Croydon came in the 66th minute when defender Orlando Hollingsworth drilled a 22-yard shot towards goal but after taking a deflection, Mann made a comfortable save.
Seconds later, at the other end, Bremner was inches away from breaking the deadlock when his diving header, from Lover's cross, went agonisingly wide.
Another chance went begging for the home side when Power threaded the ball to Miller but his 16-yard cross-shot fired wide.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Odlum got down well to scoop the ball away from Kempster's stroked shot.
Croydon, however, almost snatched an unlikely winner in the 77th minute.
Ryan Hackett cut the ball back to Alfie Nunn whose 22-yard rasping shot was flying towards the top left hand corner, but Mann, who otherwise had a quite game, flew across his goal to push the thunderbolt over the crossbar.
A rousing display from the home side in the final ten minutes searched for the winning goal, but Cray couldn't apply the required finish.
Lover's 24-yard shot after cutting inside went straight at a well positioned goalkeeper, before former Herne Bay striker Leigh Bremner was denied by Hollidge's goal line clearance although his 12-yard shot lacked conviction.
Deep inside stoppage time, substitute Matt Woolf played the ball over Bremner picking out Kempster on the left. He squared the ball to Bremner who rolled the ball to Franklyn Dixon on the right hand side, and with the goal at his mercy, he screwed his shot from six yards, wide of the post, although his blushes were saved by an offside flag.
Cray Wanderers: Dean Mann, Danny Whelan (John Mayall 68), Danny Bower (Matt Woolf 77), David Gray (Capt), Tony Russell, James Taylor, Ross Lover, Jamie Kempster, Michael Power (Franklyn Dixon 85), Leigh Bremner, James Millar. Subs: Robert Browning, Dean Morris
Croydon: John Odlum, Orlando Hollingsworth, Kris Hollidge, Alfie Nunn, Rob Fraser, Oliver Young, Marriott Lusengo (Shane Sinclair 61), Warren Burton (Capt), Bronek Dabrowa, Terry Davies (Ryan Hackett 58), Luke Milner (Sean Campbell 55). Subs: Matt Doran, Phil Donaldson.
Referee: Colin Overall
Assistants: Mr Regan & Mr Staveley
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