We won this clash of promotion hopefuls as two second-half wonder strikes helped us see off Cray Wanderers, writes James Barrett-Sterling.
New signing Christie Pattison was handed his debut and Ola Sogbanmu returned for Omar Koroma and Danny Dudley respectively.
Hayes Lane was bathed in sunlight as the game begun and Raheem Sterling-Parker teed up Jordan Cheadle on the edge of Cray’s box but, under pressure, his side-footed effort in the third minute bent wide of the far post.
Billy Bishop was called into early action as he got down low to deny Dadson and, thankfully, Michael Power steered the rebound wide from close range.
The fast start to the game remained as Jay Leader’s speculative shot from distance was tipped round by Bishop and, after a poor corner delivery, we broke with Peter Adeniyi finding Michael Aziaya.
Our midfielder looked up and fed a lovely through ball for Sterling-Parker to race onto but keeper Nick Blue spread himself and blocked the dinked shot.
Both sides were happy to allow each other possession in their respective halves, but defences were on top when attacks threatened to start looking tasty.
We almost unlocked the door on 28 minutes as Sogbanmu lost, but then subsequently regained, possession just outside the Cray 18-yard box. He shuffled the ball into Pattison whom cut inside and lifted an inviting cross towards the incoming Sterling-Parker but the delivery was millimetres too high.
The home side won a free kick on 39 minutes as Paris Hamilton-Downes halted a forward run by Power 20 yards from goal, but Bishop comfortably gathered Dent’s low strike on goal.
We almost finished the half with a flourish as Pattison showed good determination down the right to get past a couple of opponents and into the box. His square ball was met by a combination of Sterling-Parker and a defender and the ball agonisingly rolled wide of the near post.
The referee awarded us a corner that was met by the oncoming Kalvin Morath-Gibbs but the bouncing ball came off his thigh and flew wide as he failed to set himself properly.
HALF-TIME: 0 – 0
It did seem like something special, or indeed comical, or maybe controversial would break the deadlock in this one but it turned out to be pure simple luck.
Cray’s Aaron Rhule won possession by the centre circle and set off towards goal, eventually getting down the far side of our box. He knocked a cross over towards the back post area and the ball sailed just inside the far post.
We responded straightaway as Bobby Price galloped forward a minute later but his angled drive was well held by Blue.
Tommy Bradford and Sterling-Parker combined on the hour mark and the latter’s cross found Sogbanmu by the penalty spot. He managed to steady himself and get a shot off, but an outstretched defensive leg blocked the ball away.
But we kept plugging away and, on 71 minutes, Pattision made a driving run through the middle of the pitch before being hauled down 30 yards from goal.
Up stepped Cheadle – he hadn’t scored since November but he left Blue rooted as he angled his free kick just under the top near corner for his sixth of the season.
And our travelling fans were overjoyed just two minutes later as Sogbanmu was found with a throw in and he spun to play in Pattison whom took a touch with his right before rifling a left-footed effort beyond Blue.
We had a chance to add a gloss to the final score on 87 minutes as sub Ricky Korboa found himself on the ball six yards from goal but, although he managed to get the ball over the oncoming Blue, he lifted his shot off target.
All the goals, highlights and post-match interviews are available via robins.tv
Next up: We play host to Thamesmead Town on Saturday 24th February. We then travel to Herne Bay on Saturday 3rd March.
Carshalton Athletic: Bishop; Price, Morath-Gibbs, Hamilton-Downes (c), Cheadle; Sogbanmu (Dudley - 89), Aziaya, Adeniyi; Bradford, Sterling-Parker (O'Sullivan - 80), Pattison (Korboa - 77)
Unused subs: Healy, Koroma
Goals: Cheadle (72), Pattison (75)
Assists: Pattison, Sogbanmu
Booked: Hamilton-Downes, Korboa
Cray Wanderers: Blue, Mundele, Williams, Leader, Nelson, Henry (Frieter - 79), Carpenter (c), Dent, Power (McDonald - 57), Rhule, Dadson (Scott - 68)
Unused subs: Evans, Vines
Goal: Rhule (51)
Booked: Rhule, Dent, Carpenter, Williams, Leader
Our 'Man of the Match': Michael Aziaya
Current league position: 4th (68 points - Lewes lead with 71)