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Kingstonian 3-1 Cray Wanderers

Cray Wanderers made the return trip to Kingsmeadow for the FA Trophy replay on a bitterly cold Monday evening. With the prize at stake being an away trip to Canvey Island in the height of December, it was perhaps a reward that neither set of fans would have relished. However the potential prize fund for the evening's victors should have been motivation enough for both clubs.

Cray kicked off the match with Kingstonian attacking the Athletics ground end. The Wanderers created the opening chance of the game, a disputed throw-in finding an unmarked player whose volley from the edge of the box failed to trouble Mark Torcaso in the Kingstonian goal.

With chances at a premium in the early stages, Tony Reid's well timed run into the box on the end of a dangerous through ball was greeted with much anticipation by the fans behind the goal. However Reid mistimed his volley and the ball bobbled safely into Steve Northwood's hands.

As Cray returned fire, Wayne Noad produced an excellent defensive header on the near post to deal with a dangerous inswinging cross. However, Cray won possession back soon afterwards, and Leigh Bremner found himself in possession on the edge of the six yard box, unmarked. He twisted to face goal, and sent a powerful, low shot past Torcaso's outstretched body and into the back of the net. Kingstonian 0 - 1 CRAY WANDERERS.

Again, Cray won back possession, this time after Kingstonian had restarted the game. The Wanderers worked the ball through the middle of the park and up to the Kingstonian box, where another unmarked Cray player found himself with the opportunity to shoot. Torcaso produced a blinding saved from the rifled volley, tipping the ball out for a corner, and keeping Kingstonian in the game.

However, for large spells of the first-half Kingstonian looked out of their depth. They were flat-footed and wooden, producing little movement off the ball and leaving gaping holes around the pitch, often leaving the defence exposed.

The K's did manage to produce one good opportunity to equalise, Kenny Ojukwa using his pace to break the shackles of his marker and sending over a beautifully placed volley from deep on the left wing. Mazin Ahmad found himself on the end of the cross, and hit it first time on the volley. The ball stayed low, but Northwood was equal to the challenger, getting down well to tip the ball around the post.

However Cray were again able to mount sustained pressure around Kingstonians penalty area. The K's were too often guilty of wasting possession and making sloppy mistakes, ad it was with a sense of relief that the referee blew for half-time.

Whatever McDonald said to the players at half-time it seemed to do the trick, as it was an entirely rejuvenated team that emerged from the tunnel to restart the game. Kingstonian kicked off and almost immediately won a corner. Ahmad drilled the ball low and into the centre of the box, and Bashiru Alimi was on hand to tuck the ball into the net. KINGSTONIAN 1 - 1 Cray Wanderers.

Kingstonian had the bit between their teeth, and immediately won back possession from Cray's restart. Jon Coke sent a deep cross into the box from the left wing and Northwood rose to collect. The ball mysteriously flew past the keeper, and a Cray head was on hand to send the ball into the netting. KINGSTONIAN 2 - 1 Cray Wanderers.

Moments later Ahmad nearly added a third, volleying over from the edge of the box. Kingstonian were now playing with renewed vigour and purpose. Steve Symes then beat his man on the left wing and sent a rasping cross onto the head of Ojukwa, who directed it down, but it lost power as it struck the ground, and Northwood was able to gather it safely.

With Kingstonian now dominating the centre of the park, they were able to work the ball out to the men on the wings, who were able to litter the box with crosses that Ojukwa and Reid were able to challenger for. Cray became more frustrated and started to make mistakes of their own.

A careless clearance by a Cray defender fell to Ojukwa, unmarked and in space, who turned to face goal and struck a shot that went wide. Martyn Lee, another player who looked rejuvenated in the second-half, then broke free of his marker and darted into the box. He buried his shot past Northwood for Kingstonians third of the evening. KINGSTONIAN 3 - 1 Cray Wanderers.

When Cray did manage to get forward in the second-half, the defence looked confident and assured. Mark Torcaso produced a commanding performance, making a number of strong and positive calls to his defence, and all the defenders looked much more solid.

As the minutes ticked down, there were further opportunities for Kingstonian to add a fourth goal. Reid found himself one-on-one with Northwood, and forced him into a good save. Lee followed up with a strong shot that struck a defender and went for a corner.

With 8 minutes remaining Tommy Cass replaced Ojukwa, and very nearly added increased the lead, volleying from the right hand corner of the box, testing Northwood's agility to the maximum. The ball was palmed out for another corner.

Ahmad was then replaced with Wetherall on the stroke of 90 minutes. Tony Reid then produced a superb solo effort, chipping the ball over his marker on the half-way line, running past him and collecting the ball on the other side. As he bore down on goal, he placed his shot narrowly wide of the post.

The referee then blew his whistle to signal the end of a remarkable game. Kingstonian had been very poor in the first-half. They had looked wooden, often losing possession and leaving the defence exposed. As things turned out, Mark Torcaso's superb save in the first half had been vital, as Kingstonian looked like an entirely different outfit after the break. They had driven forward with purpose and determination. Certainly, a stroke of luck for the second goal, but never-the-less, the second-half performance was more than worth the entrance fee. And so, Canvey Island on the 17th December. Wrap up warm.

Mon 28th Nov 2005
Kingsmeadow Stadium
FA Trophy 3rd qualifying round replay
Alimi, og, Lee
Cray Wanderers1
1Mark Torcaso
2Jonathan Coke
3Richard Taylor
4Wayne Noad15
5Julian Sills
6Mazin Ahmad16
7Steve Symes
8Bashiru Alimi
9Tony Reid
10Kenny Ojukwa12
11Martyn Lee
12Tommy Cass10
14Ryan Adams
15Scott Corbett4
16Paul Wetherall6
17Paul Brady
Match Report By
Darren Bell