Charlie Bradford’s report on last nights pulsating cup tie at Hayes Lane for the Non-League Chronicles: https://www.facebook.com/thenonleaguechronicles
Cray Wanderers 3-1 Fisher
Wednesday 23rd September 2020
Emirates F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round
@The Westminster Waste Stadium (Hayes Lane), Bromley FC
Admission – £10
Programme – £2
Attendance – 302
After a couple of nights of rest, I was raring to go tonight to keep up my efforts of seeing a game in every round of this season’s F.A. Cup, and tonight’s game of choice was a local derby between my beloved Cray Wanderers and Fisher at Hayes Lane – my local ground which I had not visited for around 8 months prior to tonight due to groundhopping and COVID-19! With a lot of people I know supporting Fisher, I was the odd one out of the group tonight cheering on my local club of Cray Wanderers!
Having watched Fisher put in an excellent defensive shift at Crowborough in their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division opener, as well as know that they had already knocked out higher league opposition in Tooting & Mitcham United in the prior round, I knew that Cray (of the Isthmian League Premier Division, so 2 leagues higher than Fisher) would be in for a tough test and a test they would need to take seriously. Cray Wanderers manager Tony Russell clearly had the same thoughts as myself as he went with a full strength team for the occasion.
It felt great to be back at Hayes Lane (albeit with constant rain falling all night) and Cray started the better of the two teams. Joe Taylor would go close in the 12th minute when he was played through beyond Fisher’s defensive line but he blasted his shot wide of Fisher’s goal.
However, a couple of minutes later, Cray took the lead when Jason Banton cut in from the left flank and produced a world class curling shot from the edge of the box and into the top right hand corner, giving Daniel Carpanini absolutely no chance – a goal well worthy of being my 100th of the season.
Fisher however responded brightly, and seemed to be helped when Bradley Pritchard went off injured for Cray, with Cray losing a bit of solidity in midfield. Fisher could have grabbed themselves an equaliser in the 27th minute when Wale Odedoyn was played in down the channel but Lewis Carey stood firm to tip his shot wide for a corner.
However, in the 33rd minute, Fisher did equalise when Malaki Coker curled the ball into the bottom right hand corner from the edge of the box and out of the reach of Cray goalkeeper Lewis Carey. Just a few minutes later, there was controversy. Fisher played a ball over the top and Cray goalkeeper Lewis Carey came rushing out of his goal area to try and win and clear the ball, and he handled the ball in the process. I immediately put my head in my hands thinking he was bound to get sent off, but the referee gave him a yellow card instead, judging that Charlie Allen was in a position to cover the situation and that there therefore was not a clear goal scoring opportunity, which I thought was a lucky decision for Cray to say the least!
Cray took the lead on the stroke of half time when Charlie Allen unleashed a 30 yard pile driver of a shot to which Daniel Carpanini could only palm into the path of Freddie Parker, who made no mistake and had an easy tap in.
Fisher started the second half brightly and had a good 15 minute passage of play to open up the half – a passage in which both Jacob Katonia and Trey Small would both have shots from similar positions straight at Lewis Carey from the edge of the box. In the 63rd minute, Cray doubled their lead to 3-1 when Jason Banton had the ball played to him and he took on the Fisher defender and produced a low shot from just inside the box which went into the bottom left corner and all but sealed the tie.
Fisher however did not lie down and continued to give it a go. They were extremely unlucky not to score in the 67th minute when Malaki Coker had a shot from the edge of the box to which Lewis Carey got a magnificent finger tip to the ball to tip the ball onto the post. Fisher also had another guilt edge chance in the 86th minute when Wale Odedoyn broke down the right and squared the ball across the six yard box to Jack Gibbons but he spurned the chance and fired the ball wide and off target when it looked easier to score.
A mighty relief that Cray got through the tie and safely into the hat for the 2nd qualifying round. I hope that they draw anyone (be it home or away) apart from a National League South side away as it would mean I could not attend under current rules!
MOTM: Jason Banton (Cray Wanderers) – a terrific performance and brace for a great new addition to the squad – a good coup for Cray given his Football League nous.
On a side note, fair play to Fisher’s magnificent fans tonight and for the fact that the team kept going – the whole club should be proud!