Report by Pat McCrossan
There’s an old saying that football is a game of two halves and that certainly was the case this afternoon in a sunny but breezy south London
After a bright start from Hastings , where an early shot from Parish forced the home keeper into an early save, Cray found their feet and started to forage deep into the Hastings half. Hastings certainly battled as one would expect, but the hosts were taking full advantage of the slope and the teasing wind in their favour. As the half grew, so did Cray and they opened the scoring on 32 minutes when Tumyaka heads in at the far post from a corner. Minutes later, they try a chip from close range that Louis recovers and manages to collect. Hastings struggled but one sensed the effort was clearly there and Whilst Cray were on the front foot and Hastings were struggling to make impact, the score remained at 1-0 at half time .
The second half started with more gusto from Hastings and a different formation however Cray were still managing to get a few forays at the front. But Hastings are not a team to lie down and with sleeves rolled up, they started to dominate the game in the final third. Pope is unlucky to be denied after stealing the ball near the penalty area, but Cray stood firm and cleared. However, Hastings pressure paid off when a beauty of a free kick is converted by a defender and it’s 1-1.
As the chilly wind battled with the sunshine, Hastings started to take control, although Cray still had that threat on the counter, and Ollie Black raced back to clear off the line in the 72nd minute.
Hastings continued to push their hosts back and a brilliant Sam Hasler corner is converted by Dixon in the 76th.
Cray continued to battle until the end but Hastings managed to cancel out their attacks well, and following a couple of late free kicks for the hosts, the referee blew the final whistle.
Delirious scenes from the incredible supporters at the end, as Hastings overcome a huge hurdle in their quest for the title.
It doesn’t always have to be pretty, but certainly in the second half United showed why they lead the pack.
With Ashford losing, a ten point cushion emerges again. But make no mistake, Gary Elphick and his charges are focused on one game at a time from now.
Cray Valley PM:
1. Chris Lewington 2. Connor Dymond 3. Nathan Green 4. Paul Semakula 6. Ali Tumkaya (Goal: 31′, Own Goal: 62′) 9. Marcel Barrington 10. Ade Adeyemo 14. Matthew A-Warren 15. Anthony Edgar 18. Hassan Ibrahiym 20. Ian Gayle
Subs: 5. Nathaniel Blanks 7. Denzel Gayle 11. Francis Babalola 19. Raheem Sterling-Parker
1. Louis Rogers 2. Ollie Black 3. Ryan Worrall 4. Finn O’Mara 5. Craig Stone 6. Tom Chalmers 7. Danny Parish 8. Jack Dixon (Goal 76′) 9. Ben Pope 16. Kane Penn 18. Knory Scott
Subs: 11. Sam Hasler 12. Marcus Goldsmith 14. Kenny Pogue 15. Ismaila Diallo 19. Dave Martin