Thursday 01st September 2005

 Power surge

Saturday 10th
September 2005
FA Cup
First Qualifying Round
Stephen McCartney reports from 
The Courage Stadium
Cray Wanderers 4 Michael Power 2, 44, 
45 (pen)
Dean Morris 78
Kingstonian 1 Martyn Lee 90 (pen)


An Apology issued by Stephen McCartney, editor of - Monday 3rd October 2005 

Having reflected on my original reporting of this game - which I've now amended giving a more balanced view of the match - I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies towards Mr Meliack and hope I didn't cause too much offence.

Michael Power's first half hat-trick helped Cray Wanderers into the second qualifying round of the FA Cup at The Courage Stadium, writes Stephen McCartney.

It appears Nationwide Conference club Gravesend & Northfleet are keeping tabs on the former Thamesmead Town and Erith & Belvedere striker's progress having sent two people to watch him today.

And they weren't disappointed as Power gave the Kent side the lead after just 77 seconds.

Dean Morris stole the ball off Michael Brady on the half-way line and he sent tiny midfielder Jamie Wood on his way.  Passing to Leigh Bremner, the former Herne Bay striker threaded the ball to Power inside the box and he drove a shot across former Bromley goalkeeper, Chuck Martini and into the bottom far corner of the net.

Kingstonian - with a fantastic cup pedigree - were looking the more likely to equalise but they squandered numerous chances during a good spell, which kept their fans vocal.

Martyn Lee blazed over from a 30-yard free kick, the impressive Kenny Ojuwa tested Steve Northwood in the Cray goal and a certain Paul Vines headed over from a corner.

As we all know, the former Cray Wanderers, Bromley and Erith & Belvedere striker, has set the Kentish Observer League alight, scoring eight goals already this season for leaders Beckenham Town as well as getting a hat-full last season.

It was now turn for Cray to reign shots towards Martini's goal but Bremner, who drove a shot from 20-yards, and a screamer from Wood's volley, on the far side of the box, following Ross Lover's first time cross, were dealt with by the Moroccan.

More chances were wasted by the visitors and Power netted his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time as Cray twice hit their visitors on the break.

Lover squared the ball to Wood and he over-hit a pass to Bremner who had to retrieve the ball on the right flank.  He then cut the ball back to wing-back Drew Watkins, whose first time cross sailed over Lover but Power was there at the near post to stab the ball past Martini from inside the six yard box.

Power grabbed his hat-trick three minutes into stoppage time as his right-footed penalty went past Martini - who dived to his right- after Danny Harris - who made a mazy run down the left - was brought down by former Bromley midfielder Scott Bennetts inside the penalty area.

Bremner still had time to set up a chance for Dean Morris, whose shot from the edge of the box, sailed just over.

Kingstonian manager Ian McDonald replaced Bennetts for Damian Panter at the interval as the shell-shocked side played with three men up front and within eight minutes a snap shot from inside the D by Lee was brilliantly tipped over by Northwood.

Cray almost increased their lead further when Bremner slipped Power again and he laid the ball into Wood's path but his low 20-yard drive was parried by Martini.

And in the 66th minute, Bremner and Mazin Ahmad were sent off for their part in a flare up on the far side of the pitch, which saw only three players stay away from the incident.

And the worse foul of the match went punished when Brady walked for a crunching tackle from behind on Wood in midfield after 72 minutes.

Cray scored their fourth goal with 12 minutes left and full-credit must go to hat-trick hero Power.  He picked up the ball and raced to the by-line and sent over a cross for an unmarked Morris at the far post and he rifled a shot into the net via the underside of the bar.

Kingstonian were gifted a penalty when David Gray was too heavy handed in an aerial challenge on Ian Dickens following Christian Gonzales' corner kick.

Gray - who had earlier been booked - was sent-off using foul and abusive language towards the match officials.

But Northwood did brilliantly to save Ojukwa's penalty but the jubilation turned to agony when the assistant on the stand side flagged as the agile goalkeeper moved off his line.

So the same player took the re-take and Northwood made three fine saves to deny the visitors.

But even more controversy followed as Cray defender Tony Russell and Panter squared up and were both sent off (Russell having been booked for dissent after the first penalty) and this time Lee rifled the third penalty high into the net.

However, the match officials allowed the penalty to be retaken although the pair that had just been sent off were still on the pitch - and were even squaring up to each other as the ball was flying into the net.

As the dust settled - and with his side in Monday's draw - Jenkins, to his credit, remained calm in the post-match press conference.

"Six sending's off and not really one justified," he said.  "He (Mr Meliack) said they got done for punches and violent conduct but everyone in the crowd and the 22 players didn't see any of that so I can't understand why he's sent six men off from the field of play.

"It's just the referee's opinion or the linesmen against someone else's so you are fighting a losing battle at the end of the day."

With goalkeeper Steve Northwood starting a three match suspension at Hastings United next Saturday, Jenkins will also lose central defensive partnership David Gray and Tony Russell - who both performed well today - and striker Leigh Bremner for their FA Cup second qualifying round tie in 14 days time.

"It's unfortunate losing those three players as we'll be without three key players for the next round, which is disappointing," he said.

And reflecting on the game, Jenkins' who has scored at least one goal in the last 14 seasons playing for the club, admitted: "To be honest with you, we didn't dominate the game as the scoreline suggests.

"We hit them on the break three times, they had some pressure and we just got the ball at the other end and score with every chance we had, which was very pleasing.

"Michael Power was outstanding on the day and his finishing was exceptional."

But Dean Mann will deputise for the suspended Northwood for the games against Hastings, the top of the table dual at Dover Athletic and the FA Cup tie.

"Dean comes straight in," revealed Jenkins.  "He's been with me for three years and comes in when we lost Steve (Northwood) or any other first choice goalkeeper and he won't let me down."

Cray Wanderers: Steve Northwood, Drew Watkins, Danny Harris, David Gray (Capt), Tony Russell, James Taylor, Ross Lover (Gary Ward 86), Dean Morris, Michael Power (Jon Main 80), Leigh Bremner, Jamie Wood (Adam Heaslewood 74).  Subs: Ian Rawlings, Richard Dimmock

Sent off: Leigh Bremner (66), David Gray (88), Tony Russell (90)

Kingstonian: Chuck Martini, Michael Brady, Brahim Eloumani (Christian Gonzales 83) Scott Corbett, Julian Sills (Capt), Stuart Reeks, Mazin Ahmad, Paul Vines (Ian Dickens 70), Kenny Ojukwa, Scott Bennetts (Damian Panter HT), Martyn Lee.  Subs: Mark Rhodes, Alan Hughes (GK)

Sent off: Mazin Ahmad (66), Michael Brady (72), Damian Panter (90)

Attendance: 225
Referee: Frank Meilack (Battle)
Assistants: Ian Regan & Steve Willard