Published: 18:50, 02 February 2019
| Updated: 14:27, 03 February 2019
Cray Valley advanced to the last eight of the FA Vase after coming from behind to defeat Abbey Rangers on Saturday.
The hosts trailed inside four minutes to their Combined Counties League opponents but were ahead by half-time and never looked in trouble after the break.
Sitting fourth in Southern Counties East Premier Division, Cray went into the game having not conceded a goal in their last four games.
So it was a surprise to see them behind so early. Rangers started brightly and deserved their advantage, however, as Alex Hendrie’s delightful right-wing cross was expertly headed in at the far post by Danny Hartlebury.
Cray put their nervy start behind them, levelling the scores thanks to a big slice of fortune on 15 minutes. An attempted defensive clearance hit an Abbey defender before the ball somehow looped over keeper Liam Stone via Cray’s Denzel Gayle.
In contrast, Cray went ahead on the stroke of half-time thanks to a moment of brilliance. Gavin Tomlin, who only joined from National League South Dulwich last month, produced a stunning chip over Stone from just inside the area to make it 2-1.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men just seven minutes into the second half when Kevin Lisbie sent Anthony Edgar clean through and he was fouled just outside the area by Robbie Kersley. Referee Matthew Russell promptly produced the red card.
Joe Macklin was cautioned for a lunge at substitute Francis Babalola, whose pace and direct running caused problems for the Abbey defence.
Lisbie sent an overhead kick against the crossbar after a corner was headed back across goal.
Despite being down to 10 men, Abbey kept pushing forward but Hendrie’s header eight minutes from time was straight at keeper Andy Walker.
Cray always looked likely on the counter, playing down the slope, and so it proved two minutes from the end as they wrapped up a deserved victory.
Left-back Danny Smith worked his way into the penalty area before teeing up Babalola, who fired against the crossbar. Fortunately, Gayle retrieved the ball and crossed for Babalola to make no mistake at the near post second time around.
The final scoreline could have been more as Lisbie and Babalola both wasted late openings.
Cray are joined in the last eight by fellow Southern Counties East League side Canterbury, who defeated Leicester Nirvana 2-1 at Salters Lane.
Cray: Walker, Potter, Smith, Semakula, Sains, Tumkaya, Gayle, Edgar (James 83mins), Tomlin (Babalola 57mins), Lisbie, Flack. Subs not used: Willock, Myers, Osborne.
More by this authorMatthew Panting