Cray Wanderers 3 vs Lewes 1: A Sort Of Homecoming

Pre-season form – it’s about as trustworthy as Matt Hancock’s CCTV. Hence a Lewes side, box fresh from impressive wins over Eastbourne Borough and Kingy’s Dartford turned up at Cray Wanderers and promptly had their backsides handed to them.

In case you’ve missed the drama over the summer, a quick recap…

Lewes hired former Cray managerial team Tony Russell and Joe Vines to take the helm at the Pan, who promptly brought a good number of their Cray players with them. The Isthmian League fixtures computer then played a blinder, sending Tony, Joe and the wandering Wanderers back to Cray for the opening league fixture. A-W-K-W-A-R-D.

Naturally, we turn at the newly refurbed Bromley Bowl, fully expecting to show Cray what they’d be missing and… well… it didn’t quite work out like that.

This wasn’t in the script, Clive

The warning signs were there from the off, when Cray’s Anthony Cook wriggled past our defence and smashed the ball off Lew Carey’s post before we’d even managed to chow down our cheeseburgers, having arrived at the ground a whisker before kick-off. Ten months in lockdown hasn’t taken the edge of our ability to time runs through the turnstiles to perfection.

Another defensive mix-up moments later had the Rooks fans sucking cheeseburger-stained teeth for a second time, before Ollie Tanner reduced anxiety levels by exchanging passes with Joe Taylor and slapping a ball off the outside of the post.

The optimism was pricked in the 16th minute, however, when a Cray corner was hoofed to the back post, knocked back across our box and Cook arrived to slot it home.

The deficit was doubled just nine minutes later, as Fintan Walsh was caught in a Cray sandwich when jumping for a header, Mitchell Nelson misjudged the knock-on and Cook trotted through to beat Carey for a second time.

Hope was revived in the closing stages of the first half, when the impressive Ollie Taylor cut past two defenders and smacked a low shot past The Pink Panther in the Cray goal, which at least mader the half-time pint go down a little less glumly.

Cray it ain’t so…

A half-time reshuffle saw Fintan Walsh make way for Nic D’Arienzo, with Nic now filling in at left-back and Killian Colombie switching to right-back. Whether that change was enforced or tactical, we don’t know, but it ultimately failed to bolster a wobbling defence.

Lewes did briefly threaten to equalise when a ball was cut right across the six-yard box to the waiting Joe Taylor, but he swung and missed.

Alas, Cray didn’t return the favour, when our defence immaculately observed the social-distancing guidelines to allow Jamie Yila to slot home the third.

In truth, it could have been four, five or six as Cray continued to get in behind our back four, and it was something of a relief when the referee called a halt to proceedings.

A smug afternoon for Cray fans, then, and a bit of a head-scratcher for the many Rooks fans who’ve seen the side play so well during pre-season. On the plus side, we won’t play an opponent who knows our team this well for a while…

LEWES: Carey, Walsh, Colombie, Nelson, Weaire, Klass, Tanner, Pritchard, Taylor, Parker, Allen SUBS: Dent Olukoga D’Arienzo Richards De-Graf

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