Defeat to Cray Closer Than Scoreline Suggests
By Kevin Olver
Not much joy or luck for City in penultimate home game
Canterbury City 2 Cray Valley PM 5
A difficult day for City ended in chaos and controversy as two late Cray goals confirmed a victory that up to the ninetieth minute had been anything but as clear cut.
Both teams started brightly in what was an open game, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring on seven minutes. Kevin Lisbie picked his way past a couple of challenges and laid the ball off to Joe N'Guessan who trundled a soft shot that some how deceived City keeper Jack Delo and sneaked in down by the foot of the post for 0-1.
They almost doubled their lead just a few minutes later when a corner from the left was swung over and tucked home at the far post, but celebrations were short lived as the whistle blew for an infringement and the 'goal' disallowed.
City responded well and the lively Matt Martin broke forward shaking off a couple of defenders before being upended a foot outside the Cray area. Wayne Wilson stepped up and thumped the kick plum against the bar with keeper Andy Walker beaten. Cray did notch their second on seventeen when a break down the left was played inside and a static defence allowed Lisbie, almost in slow motion all the time he needed to prod the ball home for 0-2.
At this point City were looking a little disjointed and sluggish and it took a piece of skill from Jordan Casey to jolt them into competing. Twenty-three minutes on the watch and he received the ball in midfield and took a couple of paces forward, looked up and seeing nothing much on hit a superb shot from twenty-five yards that curved over Walker and into the net for 1-2.
The game was opening up even further now and a flowing City move down their left saw the ball moved across into the box where Martin saw his snap shot beaten away to safety by Walker. Cray responded immediately with a N'Guessan shot blocked just in front of the line by Wilson and then Delo needed a smart reflex save to stop another effort from point blank range.
In first half stoppage time, Casey intercepted the ball in midfield and wheeled off on a run that ended with him shooting off target under pressure.
A fairly even first-half once City had dragged themselves back into it, but Cray edging the half as a whole and deservedly a goal up at the break.
There were chances at both ends as the second half began. Rob Lawrence could only nudge the ball the wrong side of the post from a Pat Nzuzi cross while a promising ball in from Martin was grabbed off Casey's feet by Walker. Cray went close with a left sided break ending in an effort prodded just wide, but on fifty-four minutes they extended their lead when Lisbie ambled through, wrong footed Delo and calmly walked the ball round him before rolling it into an empty net for 1-3.
They should have scored again shortly after when Enoch Adjei broke through and set up N'Guessan but somehow the striker failed to hit the target and instead lifted the ball over the bar with only Delo to beat. The next chance also went to Cray, Delo denying Ryan Flack with a low smart save.
At the other end, Walker saved from Martin, but City then grabbed a goal back when some fine work down the left by Nzuzi saw his whipped in cross perfectly placed for Wilson to head home firmly for 2-3.
With twenty minutes still remaining, it was anybody's game and Lawrence saw his shot blocked out for a corner while for Cray, Flack was denied by Delo once more. Jamie Maxted then strode forward from defence before unleashing a bullet shot that just cleared the bar for City while Cray responded when Sam Bailey on the break shot wide.
It was end to end as Nzuzi cut inside but saw his shot blocked, while Lisbie had a free header just wide. Now approaching the ninety minute mark, City endeavoring to find an equaliser, suddenly found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions. A ball into the box saw Martin go down under what looked like a flailing Cray arm and that was immediately followed by Billy Lewins being dragged down from behind as he poised to turn and shoot from close range.
Nothing given to City for either of those fouls and nothing soon after either when Martin tried to capitalise when a poor clearance was charged down and sprinting through on goal he was clipped from behind. Unfortunately for City, neither the foul nor the linesman flag waving furiously in City's favour was enough to convince the referee and he waved play on. From there Cray broke straight through the middle - with Robel Grant flattened with a head injury in the process - and surged into the City box with Bailey's shot deflecting past Delo for 2-4.
To add insult to injury, City conceded a fifth on ninety-seven minutes, when Bailey pounced on a hurried Delo clearance before charging through and slotting it home for 2-5 despite City appeals for a handball in the process.
Clearly not City's day on many fronts, but the game was much closer than the scoreline suggests.
Final score; Canterbury City 2 Cray valley PM 5
City; Jack Delo, Ryan Catmull, Pat Nzuzi, Wayne Wilson, Jamie Maxted, Robel Grant, (Ollie Mentessi), Tom Barton (Billy Lewins), Dave Pilcher, Jordan Casey, Rob Lawrence (Matt Catmull), Matt Martin
Unused Sub; Gary Sayer