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Canterbury City 1 Cray Valley 1 - FA Vase semi-final, second leg match report

By Mark Stokes

Cray Valley are through to the FA Vase final after their semi-final second leg against league rivals Canterbury finished in a draw at Salters Lane on Saturday.

The Millers, leading courtesy of Ryan Flack's solitary strike in the first leg, doubled their lead in the tie when Gavin Tomlin struck 19 minutes from time.

Experienced defender Gary Sayer equalised on the day for City with a minute to go but the Millers held out to book their place at Wembley on May 19.

Canterbury's Dean Grant on the ball against Cray Valley in Saturday's FA Vase semi-final second leg at Salters Lane Picture: Alan Langley
Canterbury's Dean Grant on the ball against Cray Valley in Saturday's FA Vase semi-final second leg at Salters Lane Picture: Alan Langley

Both teams made a couple of changes from the first leg. City brought defender Michael Turner in for Luke Wheatley while midfielder Chris Saunders returned to the squad after missing the first leg.

The big news in the Cray squad was the inclusion of Dartford's former Gibraltar keeper Deren Ibrahim, who replaced the injured Andy Walker. Midfielder Denzil Gayle started in place of Josh James, who dropped to the bench.

Kick-off at Salters Lane was delayed by 10 minutes due to the size of the crowd and people were still coming in as the game got off to a scrappy start.

Cray forced a couple of early corners and Tomlin broke clear only to be flagged offside, while at the other end Ryan Cooper's long throw looked a decent weapon for the home side.

Cray Valley keeper Deren Ibrahim punches clear under pressure from one of Ryan Cooper's long throws Picture: Alan Langley
Cray Valley keeper Deren Ibrahim punches clear under pressure from one of Ryan Cooper's long throws Picture: Alan Langley

Ibrahim had a wobble on 19 minutes when he failed to trap a backpass and then compounded his error by slicing his clearance into touch.

The first half hour came and went without a chance but there were appeals for a penalty from City's Bola Dawodu who felt he was held as he tried to get on the end of a free-kick.

City midfielder Ollie Lee then brought the home crowd to life in the 36th minute when he smashed a volley against the crossbar from just inside the box. Ibrahim had given it up and was happy to see the ball bounce to safety before being cleared.

Cray's Tomlin tried a cheeky chip which drifted harmlessly wide and half-time arrived with Valley's Kevin Watson probably the happier of the two managers.

That said City made a positive start to the second half, and from the second of two long throws in quick succession by Cooper Ibrahim had to tip over Dawodu's looping header.

Cray were then grateful to a fine piece of defending at the far post by Anthony Edgar, who cleared from underneath his own bar after another Cooper throw had been flicked on.

The Millers responded with a shot from distance by Flack which went wide and then Danny Smith's deep cross was headed over by Kevin Lisbie, his first real sight of goal.

City substitute Kyron Lightfoot whipped in a free-lick that Ibrahim did well to fist away, but that one real clear-cut opening just would not come for City.

As the game opened up, Lisbie surprisingly passed up an excellent chance, firing wide after breaking clear but just minutes later the Millers had doubled their aggregate lead.

A crowd of 1279 packed into Salters Lane to watch the FA Vase semi-final second leg between Canterbury City and Cray Valley Picture: Alan Langley
A crowd of 1279 packed into Salters Lane to watch the FA Vase semi-final second leg between Canterbury City and Cray Valley Picture: Alan Langley

Full-back Smith made a fine run into the box and although City keeper Jack Delo did well to block his effort with his legs, Tomlin curled home the rebound from 12 yards.

The goal could have taken the wind out of City's sails but they kept pressing with Cooper flashing a header wide after meeting Lightfoot's free-kick.

Defender Sayer then set up a tense finale when he acrobatically hooked home a left-foot shot from close range from a Cooper throw which had dropped to him in the box.

Cooper himself almost sent the tie into extra when he directed an injury-time header just over but Cray – for whom sub Francis Babalola forced a last-gasp save from Delo – held on to take their place in the final against either Northwich Victoria or Chertsey.

Canterbury: Delo, Michael Turner, Cooper, Starkey, Gorham, Sayer, Woollcott (Lightfoot 58mins), Lee (Casey 67mins), Grant, Dawodu, Dan Lawrence (Tenyue 76mins); Subs: Saunders, James Turner.

Cray: Ibrahim, Potter, Smith, Semakula, Sains, Tumkaya, Gayle, Edgar (Dawson 74mins), Tomlin, Lisbie (Babalola 88mins), Flack (James 85mins); Subs: Myers, Willock.

Attendance: 1274.

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