A buoyant Cray Wanderers are back in Bostik South action on Tuesday evening as Cray travel into Kent and the wonderful market town of Faversham for a 7.45pm kick off at Salters Lane.
The Wands who moved up to 7th in the table after last Wednesday’s 3-1 win at home to Phoenix Sports and on a busy evening of league matches will be looking to continue the momentum of three straight wins in the league and five in all after Saturday’s remarkable 8-0 FA Trophy win against Horsham at Hayes Lane.
Tony Russell has mentioned this was probably the finest performance he has ever been involved with as the team clicked brilliantly and were 5-0 up at half time. Goals by Aaron Rhule, Jerome Federico, Marcus Evans and two goals from Michael Power put Cray well in command and a Freddie Parker hat-trick after the break gave Cray a record victory in the FA Trophy.
Defensively, the team have been solid all season with just seven conceded in ten league games and the emergence of Marcus Evans who signed for the club on contract on Saturday has been one of the highlights of the early part of the season. Dean Carpenter has filled in at left back whilst Timi Osidobu is out injured and has played exceptionally well along with Barney Williams and the two are naturally gifted defenders and along with Jay Leader and an in form Nick Blue, this is definitely an area which perhaps last season was a weakness but definitely is a strength this time.
Karl Dent had an incredible fifty minutes of action on Saturday having a hand in all five Cray goals first half before becoming the victim of some robust Horsham tackling, so had to limp off but could well be an early contender for player of the season. The two wide men on Saturday, Rhule and Federico had a field day but may find Faversham a bit of a tougher proposition. Then of course there is Power who has nine goals in four and a half games and took his career total for Cray to 79 which puts him tenth in the all time Wands goalscorers list. His second goal on Saturday took him above Ian Jenkins who was on 78 goals. Parker showed what a great talent he is with his hat trick and at 17 years of age looks to have a tremendous career ahead of him.
Our opponents on Tuesday Faversham Town were beaten in their FA Trophy tie on Saturday as they lost 1-2 at Waltham Abbey with Luke Griffiths scoring in the second half.
Faversham Town have perhaps not got off to a great start to the season lying 22nd in the table with 6 points but they can rise to the occasion as proved by a 5-0 win at VCD Athletic on the opening day of the season and the only team so far to beat Sittingbourne in the league with a 1-0 home win in September. Ray Turner’s side also beat Bostik Premier Tonbridge Angels 3-1 in the FA Cup so it is perhaps surprising they have struggled in the league. So far at home, the Sittingbourne win is the only three points and have been beaten by Ramsgate, Herne Bay, Corinthian Casuals and Guernsey at Salters Lane. On their travels they lost at Walton, Carshalton, Hythe and Ramsgate but three of those games were by the odd goal. Leading league scorer is Sam Bewick with four goals.
In the FA Cup they got past Croydon Athletic in a replay and beat Tonbridge before losing to a strong Wealdstone side in the 2nd Qualifying Round. In the Velocity League Cup, the Lilywhites lost 2-5 at home to Hythe Town and in the Kent Senior Cup were beaten 1-2 by Sittingbourne also at home.
The two teams last met at Faversham on the last day of the 2016-17 season when the game finished in a lively 2-2 draw. Danny Haynes gave Cray a half time lead and then missed a penalty and was sent off in the second half and Karl Dent were Cray scorers whilst Liam King and a George Monger penalty earned a point for the home side. Wands fans present that afternoon may remember a lively second half substitute appearance by Kyron Lightfoot who set up the first goal and won the penalty for the second and of course now plays for the Wands. Earlier in the season Cray won 1-0 at Hayes Lane in August with an Anthony Adesite goal but in the FA Cup, Faversham turned the tables with a 1-0 win at Salters Lane. Faversham finished the season
Cray and Faversham have met many times over the years in the old Kent League, Aetolian, Greater London and Metropolitan Leagues and the reformed Kent League where we met for fifteen straight seasons. The overall record is P: 83 W: 36 D: 18 L.: 29
Faversham were promoted to the Ryman League as champions of the Kent League in 2010-11. Since then they have been one of the most consistent teams in the league. In 2012-13 they had a great season finishing third and reached the playoff final where they lost to Maidstone United. In 2014-15 they had another great season again finishing third, scoring 111 goals but were beaten by Merstham on penalties in the playoff semi-final. They reached the playoff final last season after finishing fifth but after beating Dorking Wanderers in the semi-final they were beaten 3-0 by Worthing in the final. They also reached the final of the Ryman League Cup where they lost to Kingstonian. Last season wasn’t quite as dramatic but finished in a respectable tenth place on 74 points.
Despite Faversham’s problems in the league Cray will have to be at their very best to keep the winning run going and should be an exciting evening.
DIRECTIONS TO FAVERSHAM TOWN FC
Shepherd Neame Stadium
SAT NAV CODE ME13 8ND
Over 60s & Student Card Holders: £6
Children aged 12-17: £2
Children under 12 – Free
*Under 12’s must be accompanied by an adult.
From junction 6 of the M2 (A251) follow the signs for Faversham. At the junction with the A2 turn right and the ground is on the right after approximately half a mile. The entrance is in Salters Lane, opposite Mill House Residential Home. If using SAT NAV please when turning off at Junction 6 at the top please turn left not right as it tells you to.
If you are coming by train then exit the station and follow the road around to the left on Forbes Road. This will become “The Mall” and when this road reaches London Road, turn left and the ground is 300 yards on your right hand side.
For a midweek match there are trains to Faversham that leave Bromley South at 14 and 44 past the hour and take around an hour to get there. There are returns back to Bromley South at 21:48, 22:38 and 23:04.
CRAY MASSIVE ON TOUR
To my mind this is the best trip/ground combination in the Bostik South and takes you into the heart of Kent and all that is great about the county.
If you want a drink in Faversham, well it probably is the brewing capital of the country with the Shepherd Neame Brewery founded in 1698 believed to be the oldest family run brewery in the UK. This is in Court Street and about a mile from the ground.
The nearest pubs to the ground are the Crown and Anchor in the Mall which is on the approach to London Road and the ground. There is also the Elephant Inn also in the Mall and the Railway Hotel near the station. Across the road from the ground is the Reads Restaurant.
There are quite a few Fish and Chip shops in Faversham with the Park Fish Bar on East Street close to the Brewery perhaps the most highly rated.
There are two Indian restaurants fairly close to each other in Preston Street, The Prince of India (ME13 8PA) and The Spice Lounge on East Street. The nearest Chinese restaurant is Yeungs Li’s about five minutes from the station.
Faversham lies next to the Swale river and was a major seaport and lays claim to have been the capital of Saxon England. There was an Abbey in the town but was practically destroyed in 1538 and there are historical links to nearby Canterbury.
Gunpowder was made there from the late 16th century but the factories were closed in 1934 and never re-opened. Since then the town has been renowned for its hops and brewing and its market believed to be the oldest in Kent still in existence.
Faversham Town are also the only football team besides the England national team to have three lions on their badge.