Cray Wanderers are back on their travels on Saturday as the Wands make their first ever visit to Bowers & Pitsea in a clash between the Isthmian North and Isthmian South-East champions from last season. Kick off at the Len Salmon Stadium is 3pm.
Cray have made an unbeaten start to 2020 with four points from the two games played. A 4-3 win at Margate on New Year’s Day was followed by a 0-0 draw at home to Wingate & Finchley last Saturday. Despite only drawing the Wingate & Finchley game Cray still remained 6th in the Isthmian Premier table and still handily placed just outside the playoff places.
Perhaps the biggest bonus early on in the year has been the steady returns from injury for key players, Barney Williams and Tom Phipp. Skipper, Williams played just over 70 minutes in his first game since 30th November last Saturday. Meanwhile, Phipp who adds steel and resolution to the side played the first half at Margate and just under an hour against Wingate & Finchley and hopefully can complete more game time to keep the squad ticking over. At the moment, Tom Carlse is the one major injury doubt with a toe injury but the team is slowly coming back to full fitness after injuries played havoc during November and December.
Joe Taylor continues to be top scorer with 20 in the league and 26 in all competitions and defensively the team have been playing well, while Lewis Carey made some fine saves in the Wingate & Finchley game so a keeper in top form.
Cray have two home games upcoming against Hornchurch and Lewes but before that make the journey to Pitsea to face a side that are sitting in 16th place in the table but had a good run of form through November and December and hold recent wins at home to Folkestone and away to Enfield to show they will be tough opponents. Bowers & Pitsea followed up a 2-2 draw at Bishop’s Stortford last Saturday with a 3-1 win at Merstham on Tuesday night. After a goalless first half, three second half goals from Ben Surtain, an own goal and a Joe Gardner strike was enough to put Rob Small’s side on course for an important victory and have 24 points from their 20 games.
The first ever meeting between the sides took place on 2nd October at Hayes Lane and Cray won 3-1 with a burst of three goals in 11 first half minutes winning the game for Cray with Andre Coker, Joe Taylor and Tom Carlse scoring before Bradley Warner pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the second half for Bowers & Pitsea.
Like Cray, Bowers & Pitsea play on a 3G pitch and they seem to have played more games away from home so far but have only played 20 games so a bit behind other teams in the table. At home, Bowers & Pitsea beat Bishop’s Stortford (2-0) and Folkestone Invicta (3-1) and drew against Wingate & Finchley (1-1). Their other games ended in defeat against Enfield Town (0-1), Bognor Regis Town (1-2), Margate (0-1), Worthing (1-2) and East Thurrock United (1-2) on New Year’s Day.
Away from home their record is good with wins at Brightlingsea Regent (4-2), Lewes (2-0), Potters Bar Town (2-0). Enfield Town (4-0) and Merstham (3-1). They drew at Kingstonian and Bishop’s Stortford and were beaten at East Thurrock United, Leatherhead, Cray Wanderers, Hornchurch and Horsham. Bradley Warner is the leading scorer with 14 goals in all competitions with 8 in the league. Bowers & Pitsea also had a decent run in the FA Cup reaching the 4th Qualifying Round beating Barkingside, Brentwood Town, Lewes & Canvey Island before losing at home to Chichester City.
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.
Both sides have settled well in the Isthmian Premier this season and this should be a very good match between two championship winning teams.
DIRECTIONS TO BOWERS & PITSEA FC
Bowers & Pitsea FC
Len Salmon Stadium, Crown Avenue, Pitsea, Essex SS13 2BE
£10 adults, £6 OAP’s/students with card, £3 16-12 year olds, U12s free with adult
Coming from London / M25
Head towards either A13 or A127
Take the turn off for Pitsea.
At the roundabout take the first exit so that you pass Tesco’s on your left. At the next roundabout take the third exit (Ashlyns)
Go straight at the next roundabout (approx. 20 metres). Follow the road until the next roundabout and take the second exit and then take the first left into Kenneth Road.
Follow the road to the end and turn right and then immediate left into the grounds.
Visitors car park is at far end of clubhouse building.
Access to clubhouse via pathway between clubhouse and football pitch then side door beside patio area.
Take the Canvey Island turn off and follow road to join A13 then follow above.
Coming from A127
Take the Wickford turn off and take the third exit at roundabout.
Follow road going straight over two roundabouts
At third roundabout turn left (Ashlyns) then follow above
If the carpark is full, there is extra parking in the Eversley centre. This is located in Crest Avenue and if you follow the pathway through the end of the carpark into Crown Avenue that leads into the ground entrance.
Nearest station: Pitsea
Trains go from London Fenchurch Street or perhaps easier to get to West Ham and catch the c2c trains at 03, 07, 33 or 37 past the hour for services heading to Shoeburyness. Returns are 04, 10, 34 and 40 past the hour. Check trains before travelling.
The ground is around 1.3 miles from the station and will take just shy of half an hour to walk it. The quickest way is on leaving the station walk west on Station Approach towards and then a right onto Pitsea Hall Lane for 0.1 miles. At the roundabout take the 1st exit onto Broadway Link/B1464 again for 0.1 mile. At the next roundabout take the 1st exit onto High Road/B1464 for 0.2 miles. At the next roundabout take the 1st exit onto Rectory Road for 0.3 miles. Then turn right onto Delhi Road for 0.3 miles and then turn right onto Crest Avenue and then a left onto Manor Avenue for 0.1 mile. This is followed by a right towards and onto Cobden Walk and then a left onto Crown Avenue for the ground.
If you are looking for a pre-match drink in Pitsea then by all accounts the social club at the ground is highly recommended and as the ground is a little way from the station might be a better bet particularly as the first time we have played at the Len Salmon Stadium. If you’ve time to spend around Pitsea then The Gun Pub on London Road might be what you are looking for. If you like seafood then Winkles Seafood stall is located at the Great Chalvedon Hall Public House and is in Rectory Road but perhaps still a bit under a mile to the ground.
You could also pop into Basildon if you want variety as a bigger town where the Winged Horse is worth a visit and if you plan to make a day of it has live music later in the evening. If you are looking for a chippie then Churchill’s Fish & Chips on Broadway North is the best bet or as with the pubs perhaps a wander into Basildon or if you are really ambitious go out to Southend but wouldn’t really advise that.
Pitsea is a small town in the south of Essex and is part of Basildon, one of Essex’s biggest towns. With the expansion of Basildon to a new town in the 1940’s-50’s Pitsea became better developed and has good rail links with London via the Southend line. Main landmarks are the 13th Century St. Michael’s church, the Great Chalvedon Hall was a 16th Century home which is now a pub and seafood stall (see above). Also there is Cromwell Manor next to the Railway station which was formerly known as Pitsea Hall. It is assumed that the Bowers part of the club is linked to the nearby village of Bowers Gifford located between Pitsea and Thundersley in South Essex and overlooks the Thames Estuary.