Cray Wanderers 2 vs Lewes 2: Ex marks the spot

Away to Cray for the world’s most incestuous game of football. On our bench, Cool Box Tone and Joe Vines, who managed Cray Wanderers for many years. On their bench, Neil Smith and Tim O’Shea, who managed our relegation from the Conference South a decade or so ago.

Smith, of course, went on to have a very successful stint at Bromley, the ground at which Cray Wanderers are tenants, making this not so much a football match, more of a Channel 4 reality show format presented by Davina McCall.

There were old flames on the plastic pitch too, as the finely coiffured, ref-nagging show-pony Dayshonne Golding took to the field for Cray. He scored against us for Worthing, he scored against us here. We may have to buy him back if we ever want to get out of this division.

The first thing to say about this match was the away support was tremendous – probably the biggest away showing since the game that shall not be mentioned at Three Bridges. All three main factions of the Lewes away support were well represented, as highlighted in the (ahem) infographic below:

Special mention to the Youth Wing, who’d clearly spent a few hours in the pub beforehand masterfully workshopping a growing repertoire of songs about the players, most notably The Bastard. They were in superb voice all throughout the game, although there was a sickening throwback to the terrace violence of the mid-80s when a bunch of Cray Ultras stormed into the away end midway through the second half and started hurling abuse at the Youth Wing:

It threatened to get really ugly when the (comparatively geriatric) Youth Wing responded with chants of “Does your mother know you’re here?” and “You’ve got school in the morning” but thankfully the riot police got hold of the situation before blood was spilt.

On the pitch, it was Lewes who were badly wounded in the first half. We started like a house with the smoke alarms going off, and we could have a had a penalty inside the first ten seconds when a Cray defender practically caught a long ball into the box. The ref – who spent almost the entire game reffing like the Cray Ultras had kidnapped his daughter and threatened to remove a finger for each decision that went against them – saw nothing untoward.

Cray soon got a grip of the game, not least because their excellent right-back, Jephte Tanga, seemed to be playing in about eight positions and nicking the ball in all of them. Poor Deon Moore barely got a kick every time the ball went near him.

Cray took the lead with a sensational move down the right. A viciously whipped cross from Yahaya Bamba (a player whose song practically writes itself) found Tom Derry at the far post to give them a 13th minute lead.

Cray dominated the rest of the half, and could have extended their lead further before they actually got their second, especially when a free-kick smacked the joint between post and bar.

It was Lewes fans who were heading to the bar when Cray did actually convert for the second time. A long range poke was palmed out by Carey, into the path of Dayshonne Golding, who took ten seconds off berating the referee to tap home the goal.

Full credit to our management team: they made decisive, match-changing decisions at half-time, notably taking Moore out of Tanga’s pocket and replacing him with Reece Murrell-Williamson, while switching Gondoh to the left wing to see if he could get any more joy out of Cray’s effervescent right-back.

That he did. Cray won a free-kick early into the second half that Carey collected and quickly distributed. The Great Gondoh cut inside Tanga, raced towards the box and then slipped a lovely shot under the Cray keeper to put us right back into it.

The equaliser soon followed. The Bastard did as The Bastard does, harrying a defender who was nannying about with the ball in his own box. The defender tumbled, but the dive was too theatrical for even this referee, who allowed Taylor to continue. He prodded the ball home from a tight angle.

Thereafter, the game was on a knife edge. They had chances, we had chances. The Bastard was uncharacteristically selfless when a corner found him unmarked, but he decided to head across goal rather than convert himself. He was back to his glorious old self late on, though, when new-boy Harvey Walker failed to pass to Joe, earning him a lecture that would have taught the Cray Ultras a few new words…

The full comeback wasn’t to be, and so it ended 2-2 for an incredible seventh time this season. If we rack up any more of those, we’re going to have to replace Terry Parris as club president with this fella:

(Yes, I know he’s dead. As are most of my cultural references. That’s why I’m in the Old Lags.)

Lewes: Carey, Renee, Salmon, Champion, Mascoll, Hyde, Young, Olukoga, Moore, Gondoh, Taylor

Subs: Tamplin, Scott, Walker, Murrell-Williamson, Pritchard

Supporters Club man of the match: If we’re being honest, it was Cray’s right-back Tanga, who was superb throughout, apart from when Gondoh plonked him on his arse for our first goal. The Bastard was the best of our bunch.

Boyesy’s brilliant photos:

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