Enfield Town 1 Cray Wanderers 1
Report by Andrew Warshaw
If you can’t beat one of your nearest rivals, make sure you don’t lose.
So it was against Cray on Saturday though there was a sense of frustration at conceding an equaliser late on.
Cray, riding a four-game winning streak, will feel they did enough to deserve a point and the neutrals may agree with them. But nothing changes as far as the playoff places are concerned, meaning we remain in the box seat.
After the battle of fifth versus sixth, we still have a four-point gap in front of Cray and Lewes – who also drew – with four games left, every one of them a cup final.
With so much at stake for both sides it was a niggly, fragmented affair with several mini flare-ups off the ball, not helped by a heavy pitch, which passed a morning inspection.
Neither side could muster much rhythm in a war of attrition but the flow of the game wasn’t helped either by a spate of unnecessary stoppages caused in part by a referee making his Step 3 debut who was clearly out of his depth.
It wasn’t only the fact that he brandished a series of highly questionable bookings – five of them to Town and almost all them soft, yet now resulting in a financial sanction.
He also waved away at least two possible penalties and possibly a couple of red cards.
As for the game itself we got off to the perfect start on six minutes when visiting keeper Shaun Rowley, after making a superb double save moments earlier, proceeded to fumble a routine corner and Adam Cunnington pounced.
Cunns then appeared to get an elbow in the face, for which nothing was given, while a decent penalty shout for a Cray handball was waved away.
In a stop-start game of few clearcut chances, Town, unchanged from the impressive display against Hornchurch in midweek, might have been further ahead at the break.
The Wands offered little in the opening period and Freddie Carter was fortunate to only receive a caution for a late lunge on James Dayton.
Cray worked themselves back into the game in the final minutes of the first half but there was little at halftime to suggest we couldn’t go on and win the game.
Perhaps it was inevitable, however, that we would drop off given the heavy pitch and that fact that Tuesday sapped a lot of our energy.
Whatever the reason, Cray started to move the ball quicker and commit more men forward.
Cue a timely double substitution by the management to try and help us get over the line.
It very nearly worked, only for the visitors to grab an 81st minute equaliser. A goalbound Dan Bassett volley was blocked and when Cray kept the ball alive, Harrison Sodje followed up to unleash a sublime low effort into the corner from 25 yards.
James Richmond, who put in another excellent shift, came to our rescue by getting his body in the way of a Destiny Oladipo effort from eight yards but in the last 10 minutes we came again and so nearly snatched a winner.
Rowley tipped away a goalbound inswinging corner, then did even better in a goalmouth scramble to pull off a terrific close-range save from Khale da Costa who in the ensuing ruck of players appeared to be impeded.
Andy Leese rued the late equaliser. “Nothing changes in terms of the table but it’s still incredibly frustrating,” said Andy. “I didn’t think we were going to concede. The lads tell me it was a foul on Khale at the end but we didn’t get beaten and now we go again in the last four games.”
McDonald; Renee, Knight, Richmond; Payne, Dayton (Isaac, 60), Taaffe (Della-Verde, 86), Youngs; Cass, Coker (De Costa, 60), Cunnington: