The points were shared at the Alcaline Stadium on a horrendously wet and windy Tuesday evening as referee Steve Goldup left the majority of a crowd of 484 as furious and confused as they were wet and cold.
Manager Andy Drury made 2 enforced changes to the side that won at Billericay on Saturday, handing a debut to goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle with Joe Coleman suffering from an injury and Michael Kedman replacing Toby Byron who began his 3-match ban for his dismissal against Hornchurch.
Rain was forecast to begin falling around half time but from the just moments after kick off drizzle began to fall on the Alcaline Stadium to add to the howling winds.
Cray will feel they should have been ahead as early as the 5th minute as Gary Lockyer met a cross from the right little more than a yard out but it somehow ended up in the arms of McKenzie-Lyle.
In the conditions is was not too surprising that chances were few and far between and neither goal was threatened again until Invicta took the lead in the 39th minute. It was in the buildup to the goal that the night’s officials first made their mark on the evening, awarding Invicta a throw just inside their own half despite the ball clearly coming off the head of Seidou Sanogo after that of Lockyer. Fregene sent the throw down the right to David Smith who was manhandled by his defender to win a free kick in a wide position. Eddie Allsopp stepped up to deliver the ball onto the head of Smith at the front post to give Invicta the lead, much to the annoyance of the visitors.
The visitors bent a free kick wide of the post but the first half came with little more incident, Invicta going in happy with the lead on a night that chances would prove difficult to come by.
Before the 2nd half began the real rain had arrived at Cheriton Road, all but a hardy few supporters taking refuge in the Brian Merryman Stand rather than braving the open terrace behind the goal Invicta would attack.
Seidou Sanogo picked up his first booking in the 58th minute for a foul out by the touchline, adjudged to have pushed his man as he received the ball from a throw.
Sanogo was then on the end of the first real chance of the 2nd half, curling an effort from the edge of the box into the arms of Shaun Rowley in the Cray goal.
Mr Goldup sprung into life again in the 65th minute when Callum Davies clearance headed into touch via Gary Lockyer. With the linesman flagging for an Invicta throw and no hint of protest from the visitors, the referee took the decision to overrule his linesman, who was in a much better position to see the incident. After play restarted Mr Goldup would soon book Dean Rance as the Invicta midfielder took his complaints too far.
Invicta were possibly a little disjointed following the incident and The Wands quickly forced a couple of good saves form McKenzie-Lyle. First Alfie Evans was played into space in the box and was denied by the keeper’s legs. Invicta never recovered possession and only 30 seconds later a cleared cross fell to Sam Wood who stuck the bouncing ball from outside the box to force another save.
Mr Goldup’s interventions into the evening were not at an end however. From the resulting corner Tom Derry collided with Sanogo as he headed the ball clear and went to ground in the penalty area. The referee called for a halt to play so asses Derry and called for Invicta physio Abi Winstanley to come onto the pitch and treat the player, despite the player and his teammates insisting that not treatment was either wanted or needed. Despite receiving no treatment, Derry was told he must leave the pitch. The laws of the football state the following:
If a player is injured, the referee should stop the game if the injury is, or appears to be, serious. If a player is, or appears to be, only slightly injured, the referee allows play to continue.
An injured player can be assessed on the pitch but should not be treated on the pitch unless it is a serious injury.
A player who is assessed or treated on the pitch must then leave, except when:
a goalkeeper is injured
a goalkeeper and an outfield player collide with each other and need attention
players from the same team collide and need attention
a player is injured by a foul for which the offender is shown a red or yellow card
a penalty kick has been awarded and the injured player will take the kick
Tom was not treated either before leaving the pitch or on the touchline and possibly does not have to leave the pitch if it is due to a collision with a teammate, although only one of the players involved in what was a family innocuous collision needed treatment (or didn’t, as the case was here).
Just 5 minutes later Invicta got what looked like a vital goal to secure 3 points. A corner from the right ricocheted around the area before being smashed home by Sanogo as the midfielder continued what would prove to be a rather eventful evening with his 3rd goal for the club.
The visitors picked up their first booking of the evening on 78 minutes as David Ijaha made a poor tackle on Dean Rance.
With 10 minutes to go Invicta made a first change with Jake Goodman replacing David Smith. 6 minutes later Louis Collins replaced Eddie Allsopp.
With little more than 2 minutes remaining and the evening looking to fizzle out, agaim Mr Goldup intervened. Sanogo was involved in a coming together with Frankie Raymond inside the Invicta half. Mr Goldup played advantage and Cray soon delivered a cross from the right that was headed clear for a corner. As the teams began to prepare for the set piece a few blows of the whistle rang around the Stadium and Seidou was shown a 2nd yellow, a red and ordered to leave the field of play. Confusion reigned among the crowd, who quite understandably were unsure as to why Invicta would now be finishing the game with 10 men.
Another dip into the laws of the game tells us the following:
Unless there is a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the non-offending team, the referee should not play advantage following red-card offences, particularly:
serious foul play
offences requiring a second yellow card
In almost inevitable fashion, Cray Wanderers struck from the corner that should have never been. A scramble that ended with a shot from Ellis Brown saved by Kai McKenzie-Lyle only to ricochet back into the net off a defender to halve the Invicta lead with little more than a minute to play.
With Invicta now holding on, the announcement that there would be EIGHT minutes of time added on was met with a roar of disgust that I have rarely heard at Cheriton Road, especially from a crowd of just under 500.
Just as it looked like Invicta might have done the job, fate struck again with the final kick of the evening. A long ball into the box looked to be heading out of play for a goal kick via a Cray head, but was kept in play and hooked over McKenzie-Lyle to be touched into the net from inches out from Anthony Cook, timed at 8 minutes and 15 seconds.
Mr Goldup’s evening was not finished there as he issued 2 bookings to Chris Lynch on the Invicta bench before play restarted.
But Tom Derry rolling the ball back from the centre spot was immediately met with the final whistle and boos from almost all in attendance at what had unfolded in front of them.
Eddie Allsopp was awarded man of the match by our match sponsors.
Speaking after the match manager Andy Drury said:
“We probably should have all 3 points there, in my opinion. Two things really: the referee has sent of Seidou when he’s hardly touched the man and then he’s added on 8 minutes at the end. How he’s found 8 minutes I’ll never, ever know. The second thing is we need to defend the corner better. That’s something we will work on Thursday because that’s not good enough.
On the positive side I think we were much the better side in the 1st half. In the 2nd half they had a spell of about 15 minutes where they got on top before we really killed it until the referee’s decisions changed things at the end.
I felt we were good last week and should have got something out of that game. We’ve been good since the turn of the year, since Margate away, nobody has beaten us convincingly, nobody has been on top of us for too long.
But as I say we need to work to cut out those silly mistakes and we will do that on Thursday, then we dust ourselves down and go again on Saturday.”