Published: 14:50, 19 May 2019
| Updated: 19:11, 19 May 2019
Cray Valley’s big day at Wembley ended in defeat to Chertsey Town.
The Millers were beaten 3-1 in Sunday’s FA Vase final with two goals in extra time ending their dreams of a league-and-cup double.
But it was still a fitting way to bring the curtain down on a brilliant season for Kevin Watson’s side, who won the Southern Counties East title, clinching promotion to Bostik South East in the process.
The first chance went Chertsey's way as Dale Binns surged down the left although his low ball in was dealt with well by Danny Smith.
Lubomir Guentchev, a real danger man throughout, ran onto a good diagonal ball down the Curfews right and picked out Lewis Driver in the middle but Liam Hickey was well-positioned to make an important block.
Cray Valley, for whom Hickey had blazed an early effort well over the bar, started to grow into the game and Kevin Lisbie - playing for the first time since March - met Ryan Flack's left-wing corner with a downward header which brought a save from Nick Jupp.
Gavin Tomlin latched onto a raking pass from Anthony Edgar and turned his man inside-out but Chertsey got men back and cleared their lines.
A clever piece of improvisation almost brought Jake Baxter a spectacular goal for the Surrey side, his bicycle kick from the edge of the box dropping just over the crossbar.
Lisbie dragged a low shot wide as the Millers enjoyed a good spell of possession, before Smith fizzed a low ball into the danger zone which forced Chertsey into defensive action.
However, it needed a flying save from Andy Walker to keep Guentchev's free-kick out of the top corner and had Michael Peacock made a firmer connection with the resulting corner, the Millers could have been in trouble.
But the men in green hit the front on 36 minutes when Tomlin picked Peacock's pocket and drove into the box before squeezing the ball between Jupp and his near post.
However, Cray Valley led for just three minutes. Sam Murphy's free-kick hit the wall and deflected behind for a corner, from which Sam Flegg headed against the post before knocking in the rebound.
Chertsey posed a real threat from set-pieces and Driver powered a header just over at the start of the second half from Guentchev's corner.
At the other end, Lisbie worked a yard of space for himself in the box but his shot lacked the power to trouble Jupp, who saved easily.
Lisbie's header from a Denzel Gayle cross dropped onto the roof of the net but Chertsey missed a great chance when Baxter got away from the last man but pulled his shot wide as space opened up in front of him.
Chances were coming at both ends now as the final became increasingly open.
Neat interplay created an opening for Tomlin wide on the right and his low cross was blocked by the grounded Peacock amid loud shouts for handball, before Cem Tumkaya got himself in the way of a goalbound Binns strike.
Tumkaya produced more heroics to thwart Baxter in front of goal just as the striker looked set to convert Guentchev's through-ball.
But it was Cray Valley coming on strong in the last 15 minutes, Edgar's low shot deflecting behind for a corner and Hickey tumbling in the box after more good build-up.
Lisbie beat one man on his way infield from the left but saw his shot blocked by a second and Ashley Sains then forced Jupp to push his header round the post for a corner.
Peacock sliced a shot wide from a great position in stoppage-time but the Millers came even closer to winning it when Edgar rattled the crossbar with virtually the last kick before referee Ross Joyce blew to send the final to extra time.
Guentchev swirled a shot wide midway through the first period while Chertsey dealt well with a series of crosses into their penalty area.
However, the Curfews were awarded a penalty in the 105th minute when Tumkaya chopped down Guentchev right on the line of the 18-yard box. Walker dived the right way but Baxter's spot-kick nestled in the bottom left-hand corner.
On came striker Calum Willock for centre-half Sains as the Millers threw caution to the wind but they looked understandably tired as time ticked away.
And it was game over when Quincy Rowe swapped passes with Guentchev and beat Walker with a superb curling effort from outside the box - a goal worthy of settling any final.
It was almost 4-1 at the death when Walker produced a fine save to turn Guentchev's shot against the post.
Cray Valley: Walker, Smith, Hickey, Sains (Willock 112mins), Tumkaya (Potter 106mins), Edgar, Semakula, Tomlin, Lisbie (Babalola 100mins), Flack (James 73mins), Gayle. Subs not used: Ibrahim, Myers, Dawson.
Chertsey: Jupp, Welch-Turner, MacLaren (Taylor 79mins), Peacock, Rowe, Guentchev, Baxter (Pomroy 118mins), Murphy, Binns (Jackson 97mins), Driver (Crossley 84mins), Flegg. Subs not used: Gallifent, Kinsella, Bennell.
Non-League Finals Day attendance: 42,962.
More by this authorSteve Tervet