Cray Wanderers 3-1 Horsham - Keeping Cray Wanderers in this league is our main target, says manager Danny Kedwell

Wednesday 08th December 2021
Cray Wanderers 3 – 1 Horsham
Location Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent BR2 9EF
Kickoff 08/12/2021 19:45

Isthmian League Premier Division
Wednesday 8 December 2021
Stephen McCartney reports from Hayes Lane

CRAY WANDERERS manager Danny Kedwell insists his side’s season starts tonight after climbing out of the Isthmian League Premier Division relegation zone after beating in-form Horsham.

Dom Di Paola’s side arrived at Hayes Lane winning their last seven games and keeping four clean sheets since losing 2-0 at League Two side Carlisle United in The FA Cup First Round on 6 November, but they were made to look very ordinary on a chilly December night in Bromley.

Kyel Reid, 34, scored sixteen minutes into his debut to give Cray Wanderers the lead, but the other three goals were all scored inside the final 13 minutes of a cagey encounter.

Striker Chris Dickson, 36, killed off a disappointing Horsham with the second goal before former Fisher winger Jamie Yila notched his sixth goal of the season.

Horsham scored a consolation through substitute defender Charlie Harris from the penalty spot with the penultimate kick of the game.

“I think they (my players’) were different class from the get-go to be honest today,” Kedwell said after his side’s fourth league win of the season takes them up to nineteenth-place with 15 points from 17 games.

“The performances have been coming, from at least the last four games and we weren’t getting the three points, we’ve been getting draws and today they’ve showed their class.

“It was always going to come. They’re a good group, got some great players in there, they just need to keep working hard and I think today it showed the quality that we’ve got.”

Reflecting on Horsham’s current form, Kedwell said: “They’ve got to lose it at some point, so why can’t we be the team that stops that and from the get-go the boys were quality today.”

Cray Wanderers’ first opening came in the tenth minute when Yila cut the ball back from within the left channel to Sam Skeffington, who laid the ball into Cameron Brodie, but the loanee from Dartford leaned back and lashed his shot high over the crossbar from the edge of the Horsham box.

Horsham’s first opening arrived in the 14th minute when striker Charles Hester-Cook swept the ball in behind Cray Wanderers’ right-back Frederick Barton to put in winger Tom Richards and his low cross was swept across goal by right-winger Lucas Rodriques and was picked up by goalkeeper Jack Turner before the ball went behind for a goal-kick.

Cray Wanderers opened the scoring shortly afterwards.

Brodie fed Yila down the left and his low cross into the box was rebounded back out to an unmarked Reid, who placed a first-time left-footed drive into the bottom right-hand corner from 18-yards.

Kedwell said: “I was saying on the sideline that Reidy aint touched the ball in the whole game yet in 16 minutes and then the quality he’s got and the quality we’ve got and on his first touch he’s scored.

“That’s what we ain’t been doing lately. We’ve been getting chances and not been taking them and today we did.

“We were always going to play him for 70 minutes. He hasn’t played for a couple of months. He’s been trying to get fit but match fitness is completely different and that’s why we only played him for 70 minutes today.

“When he gets fitter and fitter, he’s only going to get better.  I’ve played against him a long time when he was at Bradford and the kid has got some absolute quality in his locker and some bits he showed today, so I don’t know what he’s going to bring when he’s fit.”

Horsham centre-half Danny Dudley fouled the impressive Yila, who stroked a right-footed 30th minute free-kick into the side netting from 20-yards, just outside the corner of the box, leaving visiting goalkeeper Sam Howes rooted to the spot.

“Jamie’s been like that all season. We just have to try to get it in to his head that he needs to be more consistent because when Jamie Yila’s on it, the team’s on it because he’s a very big threat for any team in any level really. He’s a very big threat when he’s on his game and tonight he was,” praised Kedwell.”

Skeffington was inside his own defensive third and hit a long 60-yard box to release Dickson charging in behind Horsham centre-half Jack Brivio but his chip only just cleared the top of the right-hand post from 18-yards.

Rodriques played the ball in low from the right towards Tom Kavanagh, the central midfielder was inside the D on the edge of the Cray Wanderers box but in slid Skeffington and Kavanagh screwed his shot harmlessly wide.

Horsham offered very little in an attacking sense for the majority of the game.

Richards swung in a left-footed free-kick from 35-yards, which was kneed away by debutant centre-half Ethan Kaiser but Kavanagh smacked his left-footed volley over the crossbar from 25-yards.

Kedwell revealed that Kaiser impressed him when Cray Wanderers beat Isthmian League South Central Division side Bedfont Sports in The FA Trophy First Round a month ago and made a couple of approaches and Kaiser went on to play five more games for the west London side before landing his target this week.

“We played against Ethan against Bedfont Sports in The FA Trophy and he was different class against us and if it weren’t for him it could’ve been four or five (rather than 2-1),” explained Kedwell.

“From that day I was after him but it was hard to get hold of him. The club were told to put a seven-dayer in and we never heard anything. We had to put another one in and eventually he found out from someone and on Monday we got the call and we managed to get it over the line.”

Cray Wanderers created a chance on the stroke of half-time when holding midfielder Jai Reason played a clever free-kick down the side but Dickson’s weak left-footed angled drive from 15-yards rolled into the keeper’s gloves.

“The game ain’t done – we’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” replied Kedwell, when asked about his thoughts at the interval after the first half failed to come to life.

“We’ve kept them to minimal chances. We’ve just got to keep doing that and when we get chances, we’ve got to take them and I said to them the longer the game goes on if it’s 1-0, keep doing what you’re doing, keep compact, keep defending well and you’ll get your chances because they will have to come at you at some point and it showed the last 20 minutes that’s exactly what happened.”

Horsham should have done better with a decent opening inside the opening nine minutes of the second half.

Harvey Sparks pinged a long diagonal pass from left-back over to Rodriques, who whipped in a great cross from the right but Hester-Cook failed to trouble Turner six-yards out, slicing his shot across the keeper and past the far post.

Cray Wanderers should have doubled their lead on the hour-mark, however.

Central midfielder Brodie played the ball out to Reid on the left and he whipped in a great cross towards the penalty spot but Dickson guided his header straight into Howes hands for a comfortable catch.

“Listen, it’s a great ball in and it went a little bit behind him so he couldn’t get the power on it. He’s got it on target and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing and keep getting in the right areas,” added Kedwell.

Horsham went close following their third and final corner of the game, which was swung in from the right by Richards towards the near post where Brivio glanced his header across the crowded goalmouth and then harmlessly wide of the other post.

Di Paola had brought on striker Lee Harding in the 59th minute and he played a big part in Horsham’s best chance of the night 13 minutes later.

Horsham right-back Tom Day played the ball into Harding, who kept the ball on a 30-yard run before cutting in from the right and going close with a sublime left-footed curler from 30-yards, which only just cleared the top of the far post, leaving Turner relieved to see the ball fly over his goal as he turned to his right.

Kedwell added: “I’m very surprised he (Harding) didn’t start actually. I’ve watched Horsham for the last three or four weeks and I know he hasn’t been playing and he’s a big threat. I do like him, so when he came on I knew he was going to be a threat and that’s the sort of quality he can do to teams in this league.

“Before the last four or five weeks that’s how we get punished. They get a chance and people have been taking it, so to get that little bit of luck really, which we had with that chance but to be honest even if he did score they didn’t deserve it because we kept them to minimal chances today and I think the boys deserved to win today.”

Cray Wanderers’ back four had dropped deep but Kedwell was asked why left-winger Anthony Cook had to wait 70 minutes before entering the field of play and was a shining light.

“It was tactical because Reidy needs to get minutes and I was giving him 70 minutes,” replied Kedwell.

“Cookie’s played a lot of games. He had a little niggle from Saturday (2-0 defeat at leaders Worthing), with his hip and he was coming to see the physio.

“We’ve got a few boys missing this weekend, some are going away and seeing family and stuff so I had to make sure I don’t get too many injuries, so I wrapped him up a little bit today.

“We’re lucky to have him, he’s scored nine goals for us, he’s our top goalscorer.  We’ve got a lot of games coming up, especially in January (when we have got nine games), so we’ve got to be careful who we’re playing and who we ain’t and we’ll need every single player.”

Harding played the ball out to Richards on the left and he looped in a cross for an unmarked Rodriques, who failed to get his header on target and trouble Turner. 

The ball was immediately hit long and put Dickson through on the Horsham goal but his chip dropped onto the roof of the net, after leaving centre-half Dudley in his wake.

Cray Wanderers hit Horsham on the counter-attack and doubled their lead with 32 minutes and 26 seconds on the clock.

Cook played the ball to Reason, who laid the ball off to Barton, who played the ball inside to Yila, who cut into the corner of the Horsham penalty area and his angled drive was parried by Howes at his near post and Dickson buried the ball into the back of the empty net from three-yards out.

Kedwell said: “He needed that little bit of luck, something to fall in there because he does so much needless running. He does runs that people don’t see off the ball because he opens space up for players and all that he’s needed is a goal. He deserved it tonight because of his work-rate and his running in behind and his hold-up play.

“He gets frustrated with the chances he’s missed since he’s been here and today he was in the right place at the right time. You can’t teach that with Chris Dickson. He’s been around, he’s been at this level for a long time. He’s played at one of the highest levels, he’s played in the Champions League (for Cypriot First Division side AEL Limassol during season 2012-13), so to have a player like that, listen, he’s a good lad as well. He’s a top player to have in your team, in your changing room. He’s good for the boys. He gets them at it and that’s the reason I got him in as well.”

Cook bent a right-footed free-kick around the four-man Horsham wall and this time Howes stepped to his left and stooped down to gather the ball before it nestled inside the bottom right-hand corner.

Cook produced a sublime 30-yard pass along the deck which cut open Brivio and played in Yila, who capped off a good night’s work by taking a touch before smashing a right-footed shot in off the keeper and into the centre of the goal to give Cray Wanderers a flattering 3-0 lead with eight minutes remaining.

“Cookie’s got that in his locker, a great, great ball through and I’ve been telling the boys for a couple of weeks we’ve got to start running in from midfield and stretching teams and getting in behind because Jamie’s got that pace that nobody’s going to catch him. It was a great ball, a great touch and a good finish,” said Kedwell.

“I thought he took one touch too many but he’s stuck it away and I think that took the relief of us all.”

There was still time for Brodie to go close with a right-footed volley from 35-yards, which screamed just past the right-hand post, leaving Howes rooted to the spot.

Cray Wanderers were seconds away from keeping their first clean-sheet in 21 games but referee Scott Rudd pointed to the spot after Kaiser gave away a soft penalty for a foul on substitute Eddie Dsane inside the box.

Harris sent Turner the wrong way with an emphatic right-footed penalty into the right-hand corner, to give the vocal Horsham fans something to celebrate on a night that their side were well-beaten.

“I felt really gutted, especially the defence and Jack, that would’ve been their first clean-sheet of the season and they get a penalty with the last kick of the game so I’m very frustrated for them, gutted for them really because they defended very well the whole game,” added Kedwell.

Cray Wanderers leapfrog over East Thurrock United and Brightlingsea Regent (both on 14 points from 18 games), while Leatherhead are rooted to the foot of the table with nine points from 19 games.  Horsham, meanwhile, are in fourteenth-place with 24 points from 18 games.

Kedwell believes tonight’s win will give his side – one that shouldn’t be where they are in the league table with the names on their team-sheet – a boost to climb the table ahead of the visit of fifth-placed side Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday.

Kedwell attended the goal-less draw between Folkestone Invicta and Steve Smith’s side last night on a wet and wild night down on the Kent coast.

“It’s been coming and it takes time for a new group to know what we want and what I want and the coaching staff and tonight they got it spot on and hopefully we can carry it on,” said Kedwell.

“I think the cup games that we’ve won have been given them a bit of relief that we are winning games but before the game I told them that’s given you a little lee-way but we’re second from bottom.

“We’ve got to start from tonight. Our season starts tonight and hopefully that’s the first win on the board.

“Listen, Bishop’s Stortford are a good team, they’re up there.  They’re very organised, a very big team. Last night the weather was terrible so you couldn’t play so you couldn’t really tell what they had but they’re going to be a good team. They’re not going to be up there for no reason. They’re sitting fifth so every game is going to be hard from now on.

“It ain’t about anyone now, it’s about us tonight and what we can bring on Saturday. We’ve just got to perform like that again and I’m sure the wins will start coming.”

When asked what success is for Cray Wanderers this season in his first season in charge at Hayes Lane, Kedwell replied: “Build a good team, a good squad and keep in this league really, that’s our main target this year.  We’ve got to build a team really for the next two, three, four years, whatever it is and that’s what we’ve got to do and performances have got to start coming. We’re getting there, we’re getting the performances and that’s what I ask for. To keep in this league this year, that’s my main target.”

Cray Wanderers: Jack Turner, Frederick Barton, Kasim Aidoo, Jai Reason, Dean Beckwith, Ethan Kaiser, Jamie Yila, Cameron Brodie, Chris Dickson (Erald Desa 86), Sam Skeffington (Daniel Uchechi 83), Kyel Reid (Anthony Cook 70).
Subs: Tom Hanfrey, Richie Danquah

Goals: Kyel Reid 16, Chris Dickson 77, Jamie Yila 82

Horsham: Sam Howes, Tom Day, Harvey Sparks, Doug Tuck, Danny Dudley, Jack Brivio, Tom Richards, Tom Kavanagh (Lee Harding 59), Charles Hester-Cook (Charlie Harris 67), Rob O’Toole (Eddie Dsane 79), Lucas Rodriques.
Subs: Steve Metcalf, Will Miles

Goal: Charlie Harris 90 (penalty)

Attendance: 213
Referee: Mr Scott Rudd
Assistants: Mr Billy Woods & Mr Matthew Jackson