Lancers will feel aggrieved that the Culver Road encounter hinged on a controversial offside decision that led to the visitors’ second goal, but in truth the London-based side more than deserved their victory, even if the 4-0 scoreline was a little flattering.
Lancing manager Richard Whittington said: “It was disappointing in many aspects, particularly the way we switched off for their final two goals and the second goal was offside, but we were beaten by the better side.
“I thought Cray showed their greater experience, nous and know-how, both tactically and physically. We didn’t take our chances and they deserved to win, although 4-0 flattered them and Dan Neale had a very good game.
“It’s the first set-back this team have had, so we can’t be too downbeat. We need to put it behind us and bounce back on Saturday against Crowborough.”
Cray started well and had three early chances to go ahead. Tunde Aderonmu fired acros goal, Jamie Wood had an effort held and Laurent Hamici volleyed over.
Lancers then had a great chance to take the lead on 28 minutes. Jonno Melia’s run and cross looked perfect for the sliding Alex Howell to score, but the striker could only scoop the ball against the post.
Howell then fired over, before Cray took the lead out of nothing through Lewis Wood, who poked home Paul Springett’s hopeful ball forward five minutes before the break.
Lancers started the second half on the front foot and Owen Callaghan should have done better when he flicked wide from Melia’s pass, and Cray then almost doubled their lead when Neale denied first Hamici and then Dan Gunner.
The controversial moment came in the 62nd minute when Joe Matthews headed home, despite the provider, Lewis Wood, standing in an offside position when he received the ball, but despite Lancing’s protests, the linesman kept his flag down and the goal stood.
That killed off Lancing’s challenge and Cray showed their greater class in the closing stages. Aderonmu waltzed through a static Lancers defence to slot in the third, and then more lax defending allowed Lewis Wood to fire in the fourth.