Cray Wanderers 0-1 Bognor Regis Town - I have real belief in the lads that we will get out of the trouble that we're in, says Cray Wanderers' interim manager Grant Basey

Wednesday 12th January 2022
Cray Wanderers 0 – 1 Bognor Regis Town
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 12/01/2022 19:45

Isthmian League Premier Division
Wednesday 12 January 2022
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS’ interim manager Grant Basey believes his side can get out of relegation trouble after suffering a frustrating defeat to Bognor Regis Town at a chilly Hayes Lane.

Basey, 33, who is assisted by former Greenwich Borough, Ashford United and Glebe manager Gary Alexander, 42, took interim charge of the club on 31 December, following the departure of Danny Kedwell after only 24 games into his first managerial job.

The pair won their first game by coming away from East Thurrock United with a 3-1 win on New Years’ Day before throwing away a two-goal advantage and having to settle for a point in a 4-4 home draw against Enfield Town two days later.

However, Jack Pearce’s side came away with all three points tonight, courtesy of Daniel Gifford, 17, who scored his first goal for Bognor Regis Town, while on loan from Danny Cowley’s League One Portsmouth, grabbing the winner, against-the-run-of-play at the time, on the hour-mark.

“Really frustrating. I thought we created numerous chances.  I thought we got a lot of chances, we got into their final third a lot of times and out quality let us down, whether it was a cross, or a shot or a final pass. It wasn’t good enough,” admitted Basey, after Cray Wanderers went down to their 13th league defeat of the season.

“The pleasing this is we are getting into those areas and on another day you could’ve scored two or three.

“Chris Dickson misses a one-on-one at a crucial time in the game. If you score that then you’re in the lead and the game could’ve been different but ultimately we’ve conceded a poor goal and that’s why we are where we are at the moment.”

Cray Wanderers remain in the bottom three in the Isthmian League Premier Division table with 19 points from 22 games, two points clear of East Thurrock United with a game in hand.  Bognor Regis Town, meanwhile, have leapfrogged over Horsham into 12th place with 30 points from 21 games.

Basey handed former Bowers & Pitsea central midfielder Luca Albon his debut, while ten-goal attacker Anthony Cook – with 99 career goals to his name - slotted in beside Tom Hanfrey in the heart of defence.

The Rocks, meanwhile, played with three centre-halves and Cray Wanderers’ left-winger Jamie Yila was only a threat during the first-half.

The first-half was mainly an end-to-end affair with both sides playing out from the back and playing an attractive brand of football on the artificial pitch.

Bognor Regis Town took only 61 seconds to call home goalkeeper Bailey Vose into making a comfortable save at his near post.

Winning the corner-count by 5-3, left-wing-back Harvey Hughes (also on loan from Pompey) played the corner short to Gifford, who played the ball back to Hughes, who cut inside and stroked his shot towards the near post from 20-yards, which was comfortably saved by Vose.

“Listen, they’re a good side, the way they set-up. They want to try to play football and they want to play out from the back with the three centre-halves.  We wanted to try to play as well so I think it was a good first-half.  It was too end-to-end for my liking but I’ve got to take positives because we created numerous chances,” added Basey.

Cray Wanderers central midfielder Cameron Brodie released Yila with a low pass and the former Fisher winger easily cut inside Joe Cook (right-centre-half) into the box and cut the ball onto his right-foot before forcing goalkeeper Amadou Tangara to get his large frame swiftly down to his left to grab hold of the shot after only 235 seconds into the game.

Basey said: “Listen, I’m pleased with the areas we were getting in. In terms of the final entries we just need to have a little bit more quality when we get into those areas, a bit of composure. If we do that then I think we’ll be fine.”

Centre-half Craig Robson fed the ball into Bognor Regis’ 17-goal striker Nathan Odokonyero, who cut into the box down the left-hand side and his curling shot deflected past the top of the far post, although the home side got bodies back inside their box.

Bognor Regis Town were gifted an opportunity halfway through the first-half as they caught out Cray Wanderers trying to play out from the back following Vose’s goal-kick.

Anthony Cook, who was inside his own penalty area, gifted possession to a high-pressing Gifford on the edge of the box and he fed Odokonyero (who was lurking on the edge of the box when the goal-kick was taken),  and the striker swept his first-time right-footed shot across the keeper and past the far post from eight-yards.

“We asked them to be brave in possession.  Obviously, we’re really tight in the centre of defence at the moment in terms of personnel so Cookie put his hand up to play there, which was good of him and I think he did well overall in the game, I really do,” revealed Basey.

“But when you’re asking a team to play football you need to be brave and you need to be composed on the ball.  Listen, I’ve got no qualms of him making mistakes, that’s the game, like it happens, because they’re trying to do the right things, so I’ll never criticise anyone for making mistakes if we’re trying to do the right thing.”

Cray Wanderers then started to carve out some golden chances to break the deadlock, with Yila impressing down the left and putting chances on a plate after reaching the by-line and cutting the ball back.

Firstly, in the 26th minute, Anthony Cook pinged a long 60-yard ball out of defence, which sent Yila on his way down the left and he cut the ball back for Albon, who side-footed his first-time shot across the keeper and past the far post from 15-yards, putting his head in his hands in despair as the chance went begging.

“Luca came into the team and I think he’s done well.  I think he’s done really well in his first game,” said Basey.

“He’s a ball playing midfielder but he’s got energy and he’s got quality. A little bit more composure on the night, they only just missed the post so on another day they might go in but for his first game I think he was a positive, he done well.”

Just 52 seconds later, some more excellent wing play from Yila saw him cut the ball back but left-back Kasim Aidoo fluffed his lines by poking his shot past the near post from six-yards out.

Cray Wanderers also went close to taking the lead inside the final 10 minutes of the first-half.

Striker Chris Dickson dropped deep and hooked a first-time pass to release Yila down the left and he cut the ball back towards the edge of the corner of the penalty area for Albon to curl his shot around the far post, although Tangara appeared to have had the shot covered.

Bognor Regis’ two centre-halves Joe Cook and Robson were both comfortable on the ball and crossing the half-way line and Vose made a comfortable save when Robson played the ball into Jordy Mongoy’s feet and he stroked a right-footed shot from 25-yards, which bounced once into the keeper’s hands.

Bognor Regis Town created the final chance of the half 10 seconds into stoppage time following a set-piece from within the right-channel.

Harvey White – one of three central midfielders – cut a low free-kick into the penalty area and Odojonyero found a pocket of space just inside the penalty area but lashed his first-time shot over the crossbar from a central position.

Basey said: “Listen, they’re a very good side, they are a good side and they try to play the right way but I think we limited them to not much in the game so they might’ve have had some possession round the back at times but in terms of chances created we by far created more chances but at the end of the day the only stat that matters is they’ve scored one goal and we haven’t.”

Basey was forced into making a change at the break as Dickson’s attacking partner Jai Reason complained of feeling sick so on came Daniel Uchechi to play in the number 10 role behind the often frustrated Dickson.

Basey said: “I just told them to take care of the ball a little bit more, especially in the final third because of the chances that we were creating.  We weren’t really making their keeper work that much, the chances were missing the target.

“I asked them to give me more intensity to our play, keep switching the ball and try to be a bit more ruthless in the final third and try to get bodies in the box when we do get in there to create numbers.”

Bognor Regis created the first chance of the second half when White fed Gifford, who slipped over on the edge of the box and poked his shot harmlessly wide of the right-hand post in the fourth minute.

Cray Wanderers’ right-winger Kyel Reid over-hit a corner from the right which saw Uchechi cut into the box on the other side and the ball was cleared out to Anthony Cook, who sliced his half-volley wide of the target from inside the D.

However, Dickson squandered a glorious chance to give Cray Wanderers the lead in the 55th minute, following a poor back-pass.

Right-wing-back James Crane’s back-pass was intercepted by Dickson outside the box and once inside the box his right-footed dinked shot was superbly blocked by the advancing Tangara, who rushed out and made himself even bigger to smother the shot low to his right.

“I think it looked like Dicko was trying to dink it over the oncoming keeper,” said Basey.

“Listen, the keeper is of a big size and on another day Dicko might score that but you’ve got to give credit to the keeper. It was a good save.  On another day that might go in and the game changes because we take the lead and it’s a different outlook on it.”

Bognor Regis Town grabbed the lead, totally against-the-run-of-play at the time, on a clinical counter-attack with 14 minutes and 46 seconds on the clock.

It came courtesy of one long ball straight down the middle from Ethan Robb, which was superbly controlled by Gifford outside the box before striding forward and slotting his left-footed shot underneath Vose and into the bottom far corner when he only had the 23-year-old to beat.

“It’s come from our corner, we’ve not switched on and one ball over the top and into their man and he strikes it under the keeper so it’s very, very frustrating from my point of view,” said Basey.

“That’s the most disappointing thing, it’s come from a corner. The ball’s come in, the keeper claims it and he plays out and it’s really disappointing that we’re not organised. People should know their rolls, it’s all up on the board (inside the dressing room), so it just comes down to communication, people taking some ownership.

“It was far too easy and when you’re being honest that’s the reason why we’re down where we are.  The goals we’ve conceded have been poor goals.  If someone scores a great goal by putting it in the top corner of something like that then you hold your hands up and say ‘fair play, you’ve won the game with quality,’ but to lose a game of football by us switching off, one ball through, it’s not good enough and it needs to be better.”

Basey added: “Listen, Bailey’s a very, very good goalkeeper and it’s my job to keep building him up in terms of confidence and getting him to play the way I want him to play in terms of being brave on the ball but for me he’s a very, very good goalkeeper, it not one of the best in this league by a mile.”

The sucker punch deflated Cray Wanderers for a while and Bognor Regis Town created a couple of goalscoring chances during this time.

Gifford played a one-two with White just outside the penalty area before dragging his shot across the keeper and just past the far post.

However, referee Robert Claussen pulled play back after a foul in the build-up and Crane stroked his right-footed free-kick over the top of the right-hand post from the curve of the D.

The Wands kept plugging away, bossing the possession and visiting goalkeeper Tangara made an outstanding save in the final 11 minutes to thwart the home side.

Brodie teed up Albon, who cut the ball onto his left-foot before cracking a 25-yard drive towards the top near corner, which forced Tangara to dive high to his left and use a strong left hand to push the ball over his crossbar.

“Luca picked up some good areas in and around the outside of their box.  He had some time on the ball, he’s predominately right-footed so it was a great strike with his left-foot. It was a good save from their keeper,” added Basey.

“It’s frustrating, just based on the fact that we’ve created, in my opinion, a lot of chances and we’ve got into the final third in numerous chances so that’s the disappointing thing.”

Cray Wanderers welcome eleventh-placed Corinthian-Casuals to Hayes Lane on Saturday (15:00) before a relegation six-pointer at home to basement side Leatherhead next Wednesday 19 January (19:45).

Corinthian-Casuals come to Bromley on a three-match unbeaten run, while Leatherhead have collected three wins and three draws from their 23 games and are currently on a run of three defeats on the bounce.

“Since I’ve come in, the boys have given me everything in terms of the work-rate and energy that they’ve given me, which is the minimum that I demand,” said Basey.

“I have real belief in the lads that we will get out of the trouble that we’re in at the moment but we are where we are for a reason.  The league table doesn’t lie so it’s up to us to try to improve the group, to try to help them and if they continue to give me everything that they’ve got, like they have been , I can ask no more.”

Cray Wanderers: Bailey Vose, Frederick Barton, Kasim Aidoo, Cameron Brodie (Stefan Wright 83), Anthony Cook, Tom Hanfrey, Jamie Yila, Luca Albon, Chris Dickson, Jai Reason (Daniel Uchechi 46), Kyel Reid.
Subs: Erald Desa, James Town, Emmanuel Oduguwa

Bognor Regis Town: Amadou Tangara, James Crane, Harvey Hughes, Joe Dandy, Joe Cook, Craig Robson, Ethan Robb, Harvey White, Nathan Odokonyero (Kayne Diedrick-Roberts 84), Daniel Gifford, Jordy Mongoy.
Subs: Ashton Leigh, Harrison Brook, Danny Howick, Jack Wyatt

Goal: Daniel Gifford 60

Booked: Joe Cook 55

Attendance: 265
Referee: Mr Robert Claussen
Assistants: Mr Dele Sotimirin & Mr Alexander Kyriacou