Carshalton Athletic were left to rue missed opportunities and defensive lapses as Cray Wanderers came away with a 3-1 win at a sodden Colston Avenue.
With Cray smarting from a run of seven straight defeats prior to this game and evidently short of confidence, the Robins pressed for an early opener. Lewis White was unlucky with two attempts that forced a good save from Cray keeper, Jack Turner, and a lunging clearance off the line by skipper, Dean Beckwith.
But just under the half hour, Cray grabbed the lead when a rare foray into the Robins half earned them their first corner of the game. Anthony Cook’s outswinger was met by Marvin McCoy on the edge of the six yard box and he glanced a header into the far corner beyond Lloyd Thomas.
Minutes later, the Robins were presented with an opportunity for an equaliser when Cray player/coach Andy Drury’s attempted clearance deflected onto his hand. Dan Bassett stepped up to take the penalty, but his effort was too close to Turner who saved going to his left.
Robins first team coach, Keith Boanas, commented: “For the first part of the game, it looked like we were on for a conclusive victory. We were disappointed with their first goal as we didn’t deal with it defensively, but even at 1-0 down at half time, we felt we had played really well and it was hard to be critical. We told the players to go out and repeat what they had done but finish the chances.”
If Carshalton were bemused about how they were behind at the break, they were left scratching their heads even more six minutes into the second half. From a cheaply conceded free kick on the edge of the penalty box after a long clearance out of defence, the ball broke to Beckwith and his close-range shot was adjudged to have gone over the line by the referee’s assistant despite protests from Thomas that earned him a booking.
Just two minutes later though, Carshalton got a foothold back in the game. White beat two players to create some space on the left and Jordan Cheadle’s cross was headed home by Dan Bennett at the far post for his first goal of the season. Manager Peter Adeniyi added to his attacking options, replacing Luke Read with Harry Ottaway.
But as the Robins pressed for an equalizer in the incessant heavy rain, Cray won the ball just inside their half, allowing Drury to break forward from his anchor role as part of a three on three counter attack to coolly place a shot just inside the far post and set the seal on the victory.
Boanas said: “As the game went on and time was ticking down, our decision making wasn’t good enough – for example, knowing when to make the killer pass.”
Robins captain, Paris Hamilton-Downes commented: “I thought we controlled the game both first and second half, especially in the first half, but we conceded sloppy goals. We got punished and we can’t afford to do that every week.”
One plus for the Robins was the return of Bobby Price from injury, who played the last 15 minutes as a replacement for Dan Hector.