Town impress despite late scares
Cray Wanderers 3 Enfield Town 5
On a soggy afternoon on Bromley’s 3G surface Town dominated for significant phases of this game against strong opposition, scoring five goals away from home for the first time since they put six past Corinthian Casuals just over a year ago.
The visitors couldn’t have imagined a better start. With barely a minute gone on the clock, Joe Payne floated a free-kick towards the Cray box which was only partially cleared and, as the ball was played back into the danger zone Mo Faal, returning from suspension, found himself stretching for the ball with only keeper Lewis Carey in front of him. With Cray’s back line frozen and seemingly looking for an offside flag, it looked as though the chance was gone, but the tall striker somehow extended his right leg to poke the ball to Carey’s left for a stunning opener.
Galvanised into action after being caught cold, Wanderers set about repairing the early damage. Joe Taylor pulled a ball across the Town box, but it was just behind the onrushing Charlie Allen. Back came Town in a pulsating opening with Ken Charles latching onto a through ball at pace. He might have fed Faal who was free inside, but, going for goal, he delayed his shot for an instant and was challenged by Jay Leader at the moment he let fly and Carey saved. Another blistering Charles run was halted by a Ben Mundele tackle shortly afterwards.
The scores were level after six minutes; Town switched off momentarily, allowing Taylor to advance in the inside left channel and beat Nathan McDonald to his right. Game on. A dangerous cross from Jerome Frederico was headed clear by Glenn Wilson and, moments later, Mitchell Nelson found himself with a free header from a Bradley Pritchard free kick, but it sailed over the top. After Cray had the ball in the Enfield net with an offside flag ruling the effort out, Ryan Blackman conceded possession in midfield, but McDonald raced off his line to clear.
It was anyone’s game at this point and, after McDonald had saved well from Pritchard, Town had a let-off when Frederico’s shot was somehow blocked and the ball looped fractionally over the bar. In the 24th minute there was an almighty scramble in the home penalty area following a powerful shot from Faal, cutting in from the left, but Sam Youngs was crowded out as the ball fell to him. Some pinball then ensued in the visitors’ box and the woodwork came to Town’s rescue. Cray appealed in vain for a handling offence in the area on the half hour mark, but there was a much more vehement appeal for a penalty when Faal appeared to be taken out by Nelson, but nothing was given.
Five minutes before the break, the irrepressible Faal grabbed his second when he chased a through ball and finished superbly past Carey. There was still time for Charles to shoot narrowly off target as an entertaining opening half came to an end.
Half-time: Cray Wanderers 1 Enfield Town 2
Town went straight back on the offensive and, six minutes after the restart, a deep Youngs corner from the left was headed into Charles’ path by Sam Hatton, and the young striker buried his shot beyond Carey. Town kept flooding forward, going for the jugular, and a Youngs drive flew narrowly wide. Then another Charles effort was too hot for Carey to hold; the ball thudding against his chest.
At the opposite end, a great tackle by Joe Payne halted Frederico’s progress and, shortly afterwards, it was 4-1 when a great cut-back from the right by debutant Bobson Bawling found Charles, who bulged the Cray net again without hesitation.
There was more to come for the travelling faithful. A Blackman free kick after another foul on the edge of the home box was tipped over by Carey and, within minutes another free-kick, this time from Hatton, was turned behind by the busy former Lewes keeper.
It looked like game, set and match when Payne tried his luck from distance with twenty minutes left; the ball taking a wicked deflection to beat the wrong-footed Carey.
To their credit, Cray kept working hard and Taylor’s shot was deflected behind before the same player had another effort hit the crossbar. Sub Tom Murphy managed to pull one back with another deflected effort on 72 minutes, before normal service appeared to be restored as a fierce Faal drive hit Carey and then a free kick from the same player was inches over after Charles had been brought down on the very edge of the Cray box.
But Town fans amongst a healthy non-league day attendance of 621 were beginning to be put through the wringer when another innocuous-looking attack ended with a corner awarded on the Wanderers’ right. Over it came and Leader, wearing a protective face mask, got his head to the ball and Scott Thomas was unable to keep it out of the net.
There were a couple of other hairy moments, primarily from corners, during the five minutes of added time, but Town held on for a great three points following a superb attacking performance.
Cray Wanderers: Lewis Carey, Tom Carlse, Jay Leader, Mitchell Nelson, Tom Phipp (Freddie Parker 65), Jerome Federico, Joe Taylor, Ben Mundele, Bradley Pritchard, Andre Coker (Tom Murphy 68), Charlie Allen. Unused: Lee Lewis, Charles Etumnu, Geofrey Okonkwo. Booked: Allen, Nelson.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Sam Hatton, Joe Payne, Scott Thomas, Glenn Wilson, Jon Muleba, Ryan Blackman, Sam Youngs (Nathan Livings 85), Ken Charles (Alex Read 77), Muhammadu Faal (Charles Brown 80), Bobson Bawling. Unused: Junior Mubiayi, Marc Weatherstone. Booked: Faal.
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