Canvey Island 2-0 Cray Wanderers
Merrifield Brace Sees Gulls Through In Trophy
Canvey Island won through to the Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Round with a 2-0 victory against high-flying Cray Wanderers at The Frost Hire Stadium on Saturday.
The Wands came into the match six points clear at the top of the Bostik South East but struggled to break down an organised Canvey side who scored twice in the final 20 minutes.
The early stages saw both teams do their best to gift the opposition a goal. On three minutes an under hit back pass from Jordan Brown put Harry Palmer in trouble. The keeper rushed off his line and hit his attempted clearance into the legs of forward Freddie Parker, but fortunately the ball ricocheted behind for a goal kick.
Four minutes later Cray goalkeeper Nick Blue scuffed a clearance straight to Josh Hutchinson in space 25 yards from goal. The winger took a touch before hitting a left-footed shot wide of a largely unguarded goal.
On 11 minutes a ball clipped into the box from left found Martin Tuohy. He shot across goal but his effort was kept out by Nick Blue diving to his left to force a corner.
The in-form visitors began to become more dangerous as the half wore on. On 15 minutes Junior Dadson powered his way past Jake Jolliffe down the left, pulling the trigger from a tight angle and having his shot beaten away by Harry Palmer.
Palmer had more work to do soon after, saving Malik Solebo’s 25-yard shot diving to his left before tipping over Sean Roberts’ effort from just outside the box after it caught a deflection off Alex Stephenson.
Cray came close again on the 20 minute mark when defender Jay Leader headed goalwards from a corner. The ball was crying out to be turned home at the back post, but no Cray players seized the opportunity and Martin Tuohy instead poked it behind for another corner.
Tuohy nearly went from goal preventer to goal supplier on 38 minutes when he chipped the ball over Nick Blue from the left. Josh Hutchinson forced the ball goalwards but his header was cleared off the line.
With the tie deadlocked at the interval, Harry Palmer was forced into a smart save early in the second half, turning a free kick wide diving low to his left.
Cray had another good chance on 67 minutes when a ball across the face of goal from the left found Jerome Frederico at the far post. The winger poked a shot back towards goal but his effort lacked power and Harry Palmer was able to grasp the ball into his chest.
The Wands then hit the top of the crossbar direct from a corner six minutes later before Canvey took the lead.
Substitute Marlon Agyakwa played a neat one-two with Martin Tuohy running into the box, chipping the ball over Nick Blue. The shot looked to be heading in but Frankie Merrifield made sure by hammering the ball home from close range.
The Wands pushed for an equaliser but failed to seriously test Harry Palmer in the remaining ten minutes. The closest they came was in the second minute of injury time when the ball fell to Thomas Phipps on the edge of the box, but he dragged his right-footed shot wide of the target.
The match was sealed in the third and final minute of injury time when Frankie Merrifield capitalised on an under hit back pass from captain Barney Williams, rounding the keeping before slotting home into an empty net.
The whistle sounded shortly after the restart to seal an impressive win for the Gulls and progression into the next round.
Photo: KJA Sports Images
Mark Bentley Post-Match Interview with Simon Pitts