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Cray Wanderers continued their 100% winning start to the Isthmian South East season win a 3-1 victory over Ashford United at the Homelands.
United though, having been two goals down at the break, showed more spirit during the second period and halved the deficit through Stefan Cox seven minutes after the re-start. Only for Cox to be sent off five minutes from time, before the visitors sealed the victory when Michael Power headed home from close-range in the 87th minute.
The opening goal for the Wanderers came in the 10th minute when having beaten the offside trap, Power collected a through ball from Bradley Pritchard to slot home beyond Sam Mott.
United were limited to only a couple of half chances during a disappointing opening 45 minutes, with the visitors showing why they hadn’t conceded a goal in their four previous league matches.
Lea Dawson saw a lobbed header cleared away by Archie Johnson from under the crossbar, whilst Sam Corne under pressure from Sean Roberts could only scuff his shot after good work down the left flank.
Junior Dadson was denied from doubling the lead twice in the space of sixty seconds, firstly by a brilliant one-handed save from Mott, the shot having been deflected, before being thwarted by the woodwork.
Eventually after winning three successive corner-kicks, the lead was doubled when an unmarked Jay Leader rose well to nod home in the 39th minute.
Just before the break, Lanre Azeez couldn’t get enough purchase on a volley close to the target, with the ball sailing wide.
In the second-half United raised their game as the visitors conceded for the first time this campaign, fed by a terrific pass by Tom Carlse, Cox cut in from the right to steer the ball home from 12-yards out in the 52nd minute.
Looking to draw the hosts level, Corne worked Nick Blue, who gathered well low down, before saving with his feet from an acute angle from Cox following another good move down the right.
The red card for Cox came with five minutes left on clock and all followed after a lengthy delay which had seen Tom Phipp of Cray treated for an injury.
Being reduced to 10 men, completed knocked the stuffing out of the Nuts & Bolts as a breakaway goal saw the visitors add a third through the head of Power two minutes after the dismissal.
United will no doubt learn from this defeat, but make no mistake about it, the Wanderers are a good side who will be a tough nut to crack all season.
Match Reporter Kevin Hall
Sam Mott Siao Blackwood Tom Carlse Jordan Johnson-Palmer Antonio Simeone Josh Wisson Sam Corne Lea Dawson Harry Ottaway Lanre Azeez (off 74) Stefan Cox
Fidan Fejzi Brandon Williams Ollie Rowe Matt Day Ambrose Gnahore * (on 74)
Nick Blue Barney Williams Archie Johnson Jay Leader Mitchell Nelson Bradley Pritchard Sean Roberts Tom Phipp Michael Power Aaron Rhule (off 90+1) Junior Dadson (off 69)
Freddie Parker Malik Solebo * (on 90+1) Zak Henry Ben Mundele * (on 69) Marcus Evans
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