Cray Wanderers vs Bowers & Pitsea – Isthmian Premier, Sunday 18th September, 3pm – Match Preview

Pics:  Ozay Booth & Jon Hilliger

Cray Wanderers play their first Sunday afternoon league game of the season tomorrow as Neil Smith’s side face Bowers & Pitsea at Hayes Lane.  KO: 3pm

Cray come into the game in a confident mood after an excellent 4-2 win at Folkestone Invicta on Tuesday night which moved them up into 5th place in the table.  Cray twice had to come from behind at Folkestone in the first half and also had to reshuffle the pack after injuries to Roman Charles-Cook and Harold Joseph.  The Wands twice levelled with headers from Tom Derry and Sinn’kaye Christie both scoring their first goals for the club.  

The second half saw Cray grab two fine goals from Sam Wood and Dan Bassett and saw out the remaining minutes for the win.

Since then, Cray have added experienced midfielder David Ijaha to the side and is expected to feature against Bowers & Pitsea as Mitch Chapman is suspended.  As well as Charles-Cook and Joseph, Nyren Clunis is also absent with injury and forward Gary Lockyer has departed the club.

The win on Tuesday was the perfect response to the FA Cup defeat to Bognor Regis Town but Cray will have to show similar resolve and determination against a new look Bowers & Pitsea side this season.

Bowers & Pitsea appointed former Cray Valley and Faversham Town manager James Collins in the summer after long time manager Rob Small departed the club at the end of last season.  The Essex side lie 18th in the table and began the season with defeats at Corinthian Casuals (1-4) and at home to Margate (0-2) but bounced back with a 2-1 win at home to Herne Bay on 20th August. A 0-2 defeat at Enfield Town has been followed by back to back league draws at home to Canvey Island (1-1) and on Tuesday night drew 2-2 with Wingate & Finchley with goals from Emmanuel Oluwasemo and Sonny Fish.  Like Cray, Bowers & Pitsea took their leave of the FA Cup at the 1st Qualifying Round stage after a 0-1 defeat at Wingate & Finchley.

Last season Bowers & Pitsea finished 16th in the Isthmian Premier league table on 45 points and were never really in any danger of relegation.  They also broke new ground by reaching the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the first time where they were beaten narrowly at Lincoln City.  The two meetings last season saw a 1-1 draw at the Len Salmon Stadium with a Lewis Manor goal cancelled out by an Anthony Cook special in injury time.  When the sides met at Hayes Lane on 20th March it was a lively encounter where Bowers went 2-0 up through an own goal and Jamie Dicks but Cray fought back to lead 3-2 with another Cook goal and strikes from Jacob Munting and Narcis Florin Filip. However, Bowers scored twice in the last ten minutes through Max Cornhill and Pedro de Carvalho to win 4-3.  Both Alex Bentley and Michael Ademiluyi now with the Wands played for Bowers & Pitsea that day.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 20: Cray Wanderers’s captain, Anthony Cook, fires a shot off from the edge of the area during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Bowers & Pitsea at Hayes Lane on March 20, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 20: Bowers & Pitsea’s Michael Ademiluyi tries to catch up with Cray Wanderers’s Sam Wood, as the latter makes a pass forward during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Bowers & Pitsea at Hayes Lane on March 20, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

As a club Bowers & Pitsea are relatively young, only formed in 2003. Originally formed in 1946 as Bowers United, the Essex club played in regional leagues before joining the Essex Olympian League in 1966 and later the Essex Senior in 1974 winning the league in 1980-81 (the same year Cray Wanderers won the Kent League) and the league and Challenge cup double in 1998-99.

In 2004, Bowers United joined up with Pitsea Football Club, who were a Sunday league side during the 1990’s. In 2015-16 Bowers & Pitsea won the Essex Senior League earning promotion to the Isthmian North and also reached the Semi Final of the FA Vase losing to eventual winners Morpeth 4-3 on aggregate. They missed out on meeting Cray Wanderers as the Wands were relocated to the Isthmian South for 2016-17. They settled in nicely to the Isthmian North and in 2017-18 reached the playoffs after finishing 3rd and were beaten at home by Canvey Island in the Semi Final. However, in 2018-19 they were not to be denied and won the Isthmian North with 92 points and won the title by 12 points from Aveley to reach the Isthmian Premier for the first time before lying 14th in their inaugural Isthmian Premier league season which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and 13th after the very short 2020-21 season before finishing 16th last season and a fine FA Cup run to the 1st Round.

This should be a great game on the eve of a very poignant and important day for the country and there will be a special guest of the club to help with the pre-game buildup. 

On the eve of a very solemn and poignant day in British history we have a very special guest at the match. Before kick off the National Anthem will be sung by Jay Britton, a classically trained singer/soprano who has performed at funerals since 2003. Jay under the name the Tudor Songbook achieved a Masters Degree from the Royal College of Music and hugely versatile and talented.
Jay sung the National Anthem at the Millwall v QPR game on Tuesday and received a rousing reception. If you are going to the match please show your respect and thanks to Jay for taking the time to be with us today.

Admission £12 adults, £6 concessions on gate or online at