Cray Valley have the narrowest advantage to take into their second leg of their FA Vase semi-final against Canterbury City next Saturday after edging out their visitors 1-0 in today’s first leg.
Ryan Flack got the only goal of the game in the 55th minute in front of a record crowd for Cray Valley of 663.
The match got off to a strange start when Cray Valley keeper Andy Walker went down injured inside his penalty area in the first 30 seconds. Walker received treatment and was clearly struggling when play restarted, holding his hamstring and needing defenders to help with his goal kicks throughout the game.
Adam Woolcott shot from distance but there was clearly nothing wrong with Walkers handling.
The weather dictated proceedings throughout the rest of the first half as we witnessed torrential rain, hailstones and strong winds aswell as calm skies and sunshine.
Going into the break City will feel that they had the better of possesion despite failing to create any concrete chances.
Although the pitch conditioning was worsening the weather improved and with it so did the action and excitement of the game in the second half.
The first goal came in the 55th minute and was a great solo effort from Cray right-winger Ryan Flack. He was allowed to cut in from the byline and while the defenders marked his fellow attackers he shot left-footed into the bottom corner, giving Jack Delo little chance in the City goal.
Soon after, Ashley Sains saw his header saved before Canterbury should have levelled the game. Dean Grant got in behind the Millers defence before cutting the ball back from the byline. Bola Dawodu looked certain to score as he arrived in the six-yard box but he slipped and couldn’t connect sweetly with the ball, which ended up in Walker’s gloves.
Cray then had a great double chance to extend their lead. First Gavin Tomlin saw his efforts blocked before he turned provider, only to see his cross skyed by Anthony Edgar, who should have done better.
For the rest of the game, Canterbury dominated and came close to scoring on a few occassions. Grant just could not beat Walker, even though he had multiple opportunites, and Ryan Cooper and Dan Lawrence also had efforts cleared.
The full time whistle merely signalled the half-time stage of this tie. It is well poised, Cray Valley have the lead but back on home soil Canterbury City will be an even tougher prospect than today.
Faversham is the place to be next Saturday where by 5pm we will have confirmed the name of the SCEFL side that will be taking that walk along Wembley Way with the support of the rest of the Non League football fans in Kent behind them.
Photos from Dave Cumberbatch