Alfie Young returned from last week’s illness-related absence against Bowers & Pitsea and Cam Tutt was able to reclaim his slot in the starting eleven, after finally serving a ban he picked up back in October. Tom Chalaye kept his place after a goal and assist off the bench last Saturday, following the unfortunate injury suffered by Alex Parsons that looks set to keep him out for some time, while Joel Colbran limped off in training on Thursday and Dean Cox dropped down to the bench, where he was joined by Reece Myles-Meekums and Jesse Starkey.
Cray’s campaign had got under way with two wins out of two and it was they who offered up the first chances of the afternoon. Luca Cocoracchio clipped the heels of Charlie Allen to present Anthony Cook with a free-kick, just outside the box, that he sent over the wall and crossbar. The same player then blazed a decent opening past the opposite top corner, when he found himself in space on the left hand side of the penalty area, after the visitor’s failed to clear a corner.
Reds rode the storm though and a delightful long ball from Cocoracchio saw Chalaye scamper away, before nutmegging Ejiro Okosieme on his way into the eighteen yard box on the left and slotting beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jack Turner. Worthing nearly doubled their advantage in comical circumstances a short time later, following Wand’s difficulty in getting rid of Jasper Pattenden’s cross, that resulted in Tutt returning the ball into the danger zone and a home defender hitting it against an unwitting teammate and only able to watch on in anguish, as it crashed down off the underside of the bar, until the danger was eventually dismissed.
Ten minutes shy of half-time, the hosts equalised via Andy Drury’s floated free-kick into the area ending with giant centre-back, Okosieme drilling a low shot past Harrison Male, after Freeman Rogers had seen his initial effort blocked.
The early stages of the second period almost saw the home team go in front, thanks to Harvey Brand pouncing on Tutt’s misdirected clearance and delivering a cross which was glanced the wrong side of the far post by Rogers. Danny Barker then picked up a loose ball, a good thirty yards or so out and fizzed it narrowly above the target.
A left wing delivery by Ollie Pearce was recycled by Dayshonne Golding, who laid it back for Pattenden to sting the palms of Turner, who impressively pushed his well-struck attempt over and out for a flag-kick. Goalscorer Okosieme used his long legs to turn another Pearce ball into the box behind for a corner shortly afterwards but was well beaten on seventy-three minutes, when Golding got the better of him to fire beyond Turner and restore the guest’s lead.
Jamie Yila, on the charge, looked like making it three goals in as many games only to be denied by the excellent Pattenden, who showed great strength and composure to hold off the striker and bring the ball out of defence. Cray continued to go in search of a winner through a long range screamer from Cameron Brodie that sailed inches over the goal frame, at least twenty yards out.
A promising-looking counter-attack led to Marvin Armstrong powering his way through the heart of midfield and playing in the recently introduced Mo Diallo but, a heavy first touch effectively ended his chance of putting the game to bed. Straight up the other end and it was nearly a different story, with Male comfortably holding onto a low fizzer that had run out of juice by the time it reached his hands. Usurped by a brave block by Cocoracchio; throwing himself in front of a potential piledriver off the boot of Brodie.
There wasn’t long left to go when Starkey won a free-kick that Pearce couldn’t quite keep under the bar and Diallo seized on a weak header, only to be forced away from goal and Cray were able to breath again. Four more were soon to be announced as a minimum amount of time to be added on by the referee and it proved to be enough for Brand to truly test the shot-stopping abilities of Male. An absolute blockbuster of a shot that the travelling netminder did equally well to clutch on to.
Worthing host Bognor on Monday afternoon.