Cray Wanderers went three straight home games unbeaten but had to settle for a point against a tough Cheshunt side in a competitive game that reduced the visitors to ten men for the second half. The point keeps Cray in 19th place with 29 points, with the three teams below all losing.
On a drizzly afternoon at Hayes Lane, Cheshunt had the best of the first half hour and Wands keeper Joe Wright on his home debut made some fine early saves, but the key half-time moment came three minutes before the break when Anthony Cook was pushed off. in the box by Chevron McLean who was also sent off as deemed the last man and Cook scored his 100th career goal from the spot.
Cray with the man advantage appeared to be in control of the game but was rocked on his heels with eighteen minutes to go when top scorer Rowan Liburd struck a smashing strike from outside the area which is entry through the crossbar, but despite the efforts of both sides, there were no additional goals.
There was a bit of a fight in the opening minutes with Cray winning an early corner from which Cook’s cross was driven towards goal by Jacob Munting but the ball was cleared. The first real moment of danger came in the 9th minute and a fine looping cross from Barton on the right at the far post was widely watched by Chris Dickson.
Cheshunt are a strong side however and have been one of the few sides to win at Worthing this season and have come close twice within a minute to score when a ball forward from Taylor Miles was headed in by Joe Wright and the ball came to Beckles Richards who cut from the right and his shot was well held by Wright. Then, in the 12th minute, the ball was played down the left to the lively Rowan Liburd whose shot at the near post was saved well by Wright.
In the 15th minute, Cray got a free kick down the left and Anthony Cook’s ball to the far post was watched by Williams.
There was a bit of a slack for Cray in the 17th minute when Cheshunt had the ball in the net when Jamie Reynolds finished well to the left of the box after a Taylor Miles shot was saved by Wright but after consultation between the referee and the linesman. the goal was disallowed for offside.
Still, the best chances fell on Cheshunt and in the 23rd minute Beckles Richards on the right put the ball over Liburd who hit an instant shot which Wright did well to save and then a minute later Reynolds found some space to the left of the area and his shot is again well saved by Wright who spins the ball well behind.
Just before the half-hour, Cray went close when Barton found Narcis-Florin Filip who set up Sam Wood for an acrobatic kick from 14 yards that was on target but well held by experienced keeper Preston Edwards.
In the 42nd minute came a big moment in the game when the ball was worked towards the edge of the area and Dickson sent the ball into the area to Cook who was pushed to the ground by Chevron McLean and a penalty was awarded . To make matters worse, McLean was sent off as considered the last man. Skipper, Cook, who had scored 99 career goals since scoring at East Thurrock United on New Years Day, scored the penalty to complete his century of goalscoring.
Cray nearly scored again before half-time when, on the right, Filip found space inside the box but fired his shot wide of the left post.
Cray started the second half confidently and passed the ball well and nearly scored a second when Dickson hit a crackling shot from outside the area that went just wide.
Then Munting put Wood on the left who saw his shot deflected for a corner. For Cheshunt, a ball in front of the right in the box saw Wright bravely save at the feet of Joe Re.
Although there were only ten men left, Cheshunt was still playing well and came close in the 58th minute when Miles collected the ball inside the D and his shot on goal was well rounded around the post by Wright. Then from a free kick, Re wrapped the ball around the wall and was claimed by Wright.
The feeling was that Cray was going to need a second goal and twenty minutes into the half nearly got it when Barton’s cross from the right into the box was buffered by Filip à Cook who fired at 12 meters.
In the 71st minute, Cray was unlucky not to score a second after a fine passing move saw Kasim Aidoo find Wood who set up Dickson for a 25-yard shot which was saved well as Edwards returned the ball for a corner.
However, a minute later Cheshunt equalized when they gained possession close to the goal and Reynolds set off Liburd who struck a smashing strike from outside the box that hit the back of the net through the crossbar to bring the score to 1-1.
Both teams were looking for a winner in the final quarter of an hour. For Cray who brought in Jamie Yila and Luca Albon late, Dickson’s ball found Filip who was denied by a defensive block from McKenzie for a corner. Then Barton just outside the area saw a blocked shot. Cheshunt nearly went past when Reynolds put Re inside and his shot was blocked for a corner.
Towards the end both teams pressed and Re saw a 20 yard shot lined up by Wright which had a very good game then a cross from Re was cleared by Wright and the ball went out to Miles who returned the ball towards the goal and Danquah cleared almost off the line.
The last chance of the game went to Cray in injury time when Barton, who also had a great game, set up Cameron Brodie who, just outside the box, saw his shot go just over the top. of the bar.
In the end he even finished honours, which over the course of the game was probably about right and, from Cray’s perspective, certainly a much better display than at Cheshunt in October, where the home side won 4-0.
Cray is back at home on Wednesday March 9 against Haringey Borough, 7:45 ko.
Cray Wanderers: Joe Wright, Freddie Barton, Denzel Williams (Richie Danquah, 20), Tom Hanfrey, Kasim Aidoo (Luca Albon, 84), Cameron Brodie, Jacob Munting (Jamie Yila, 78), Anthony Cook, Sam Wood , Chris Dickson , Narcis-Florin Filip: Subs: Emanuel Oduguwa, Bailey Vose