Cray Wanderers 3 Molesey 3 (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)
Drew Watkins 29
Matt Woolf 43 (pen)
Adam Young 90
Phil Ruggles 49,90, 90
Stephen McCartney reports from the Courage Stadium, Hayes Lane
Ryman League Division One
Entertaining Cray Wanderers’ produced their fourth 3-3 classic of the season tonight - although it was watched by a crowd of just 123 at Hayes Lane.
Former Gravesend & Northfleet and Welling United player Matt Lee made his home debut in the middle of the park and full-back Danny Whelan returned to the side having recently returned to the club following a spell out of the game due to work commitments.
Cray, who were knocked out of the London Senior Cup on Monday night, losing 4-2 at Staines Town, took time to get into the game as their visitors started well.
Midfielder Sam Lampard floated over a cross to the far post but the unmarked Russell Pym headed over from six-yards.
That was after Junior Baker - whose impressed since breaking his way through from the reserve side - went close early on.
Drew Watkins’ right-footed free kick from the right picked out the unmarked Leigh Bremner but his header looped over.
Molesey striker Phil Ruggles was a constant threat throughout and he should have found the target after 25 minutes but he stroked the ball wide of the far post.
Cray, however, took the lead - against the run of play - just four minutes later.
The impressive Baker sent over a cross from the left, which was flicked on by Bremner and Watkins’ headed home his fourth goal of the season from close range.
That opener lifted the home side and visiting goalkeeper John Ashwood thwarted Jamie Wood and Matt Woolf but he turned villian just two minutes before the interval, bringing down Wood on the right hand side of the box.
Molesey delayed the inevitable, replacing the injured Lampard, but Woolf kept his composure and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot to score his third of the season.
Unmarked Ruggles’ took just three minutes of the second half to bring Molesey back into the game when he side-footed the ball past Steve Northwood from eight-yards following a run down the right by substitute Jason Haniff.
Former Fisher Athletic player Matt Lovell - who had replaced Wood who pulled up with a hamstring injury - sent over a cross to the far post but Baker planted his header straight at Ashwood.
Just before the hour-mark, James Mepham played in Ruggles but the 23-year-old striker drilled his shot wide of the far post.
Cray were, at this stage hanging on, and their first attempt on goal came from Woolf but he blazed over from the edge of the box.
But the former Bromley striker was denied by a fine diving save from Ashwood with 13 minutes of the game left.
A lesson to all football supporters - never leave a match before the final whistle as you never know what could happen late on.
This game produced three dramatic goals inside six and a half minutes of time added on.
Ruggles’ glancing header, which dropped into the bottom far corner of the net brought his side level and he completed his hat-trick three minutes and 53 seconds into stoppage time.
Ruggles’ low drive from 25-yards curled into the far corner of the net giving Northwood no chance, and the visitors felt they had secured all three points.
But Adam Young had other ideas and what a good time to score his first goal of the season - within 52 seconds of Ruggles’ hat-trick.
Young coolly fired past Ashwood following a through ball from Woolf to give the Kent side a share of the spoils.
“We’re a little bit disappointed because I thought we were the better side,” said Cray’s assistant Joe Francis after the game.
“We had 70% of the game but came unstuck a little bit through fatigue at the end.”
Francis, however, was pleased with the way his side played. “I thought we played a lot of good football,” he said. “We said to the boys we’ve got to get back to what we’re good at and that’s passing and playing football and not hitting the ball long - trying to work and carve out openings.”
Francis wasn’t pleased that his side conceded so early into the second half.
“You go in 2-0 at half time and you’ve dominated the game,” he bemoaned. “Conceding a goal straight after half time makes the second half more difficult than it should be.
“If it stayed 2-0 after ten minutes after half-time then you can plug the gaps and tighten the game up, shut things down.
“Unfortunately the gaps that we plugged became undone in the last five minutes, but once again we’ve gone 3-2 down and come out 3-3 - frustrating! I thought we were unlucky tonight.”
Cray Wanderers: Steve Northwood, Matt Lee, Ian Rawlings(Capt), David Gray, Danny Whelan, Junior Baker, Drew Watkins (David Hall 88), Adam Young, Matt Woolf, Leigh Bremner, Jamie Wood (Matt Lovell 52)
Subs: Ross Lover, Terry Khan, Ian Jenkins
Molesey: John Ashwood, Paul Malone, Phil Caughter, Paul Gower, Aaron Nowacke, Chris Antoine (Matt Otley 77), Russell Pym, Sam Lampard (Jason Haniff 43), James Mepham (Tyron James 72), Liam O’Leary, Phil Ruggles.
Subs: Dave Skelton, Stuart Robins
Referee: Mr Gary Ives
Assistants: Mr D Solimiria & Mr Y Yahiaoui