Cray Wanderers look to continue their push for promotion on Saturday with a trip to the Essex coast to face Brightlingsea Regent who themselves need points in the battle against relegation from the Isthmian Premier.
Cray have made a winning start to March with back to back victories against Bowers & Pitsea and last Saturday against Potters Bar Town recording their biggest win of the season, 5-0 at Hayes Lane. Neil Smith’s side moved up to 8th in the table on 57 points three behind 5th placed Enfield Town and one of a number of clubs in contention for promotion. Hornchurch lead the table on 72 points five points clear of second placed Bishop’s Stortford with a game in hand and a healthy goal difference. Behind them come Aveley, Canvey Island and Enfield Town in the playoff places with Hastings United, Carshalton Athletic, Cray Wanderers, Lewes, Horsham, Folkestone Invicta and Billericay Town all still with much to play for going into the last few weeks of the season.
Last Saturday’s win came courtesy of Yahaya Bamba’s fourth goal of the season in the first half and after Potters Bar were reduced to ten men before half time, Cray had a more comfortable second half. Dan Bassett notched his 13th goal of the season but the game was notable for two debut goals for substitutes coming off the bench. Striker Destiny Oladipo signed from Hornchurch last Friday within two minutes of coming on made it 3-0 and Rio Campbell, an ex Swansea City Youth player signed from Bowers & Pitsea scored a fine individual goal for goal no 5 with Sam Wood’s fourth goal of the season in between.
Destiny Oladipo & Rio Campbell
Cray have a big say in the promotion and relegation battles with the Wands facing Horsham and Enfield Town in the following two league fixtures but also play four of the bottom five before the end of the season starting on Saturday at Brightlingsea.
Brightlingsea are currently bottom of the table and without a win in eleven matches and have lost the last six matches but are old hands in escaping relegation as last season proved when a late season run of good results saw them avoid the drop on the last day of the season.
Regent were in action as recently as Tuesday night with a long trip down to Lewes ended in a 0-2 defeat. Dave Limber took over as interim manager for the rest of the season following the resignation of Brett Munyard in February with Regent level on 20 points with 21st placed Corinthian Casuals and thirteen points behind 18th placed Kingstonian. Regent do have to play Bowers & Pitsea and Corinthian Casuals at home before the end of the season and are a tough side who will keep on going to the end.
When the teams met at Hayes Lane on 28th October, Cray won 4-0 courtesy of a Ben Krauhaus hat-trick and a Tom Derry strike. Last season’s game at Brightlingsea in late January 2022 saw Regent win 1-0 with an Aaron Blair winner in the second half.
Brightlingsea’s home form has seen wins against Margate (2-1), Billericay Town (2-0), Bishop’s Stortford (2-0) and Folkestone Invicta (3-2) and draws against Haringey Borough (1-1), Lewes (2-2), Hornchurch (1-1), Carshalton Athletic (1-1) and Potters Bar Town (0-0). Their other games ended in defeats against Canvey Island (1-5), Enfield Town (0-4), Aveley (0-6), Hastings United (2-3), Herne Bay (1-2), Horsham (0-2), Kingstonian (0-1) and Bognor Regis Town (0-4). Away from home Brightlingsea have yet to win in the league but did draw at Bowers & Pitsea, Herne Bay and Margate with their other matches at Carshalton Athletic, Hastings United, Potters Bar Town, Cray Wanderers, Wingate & Finchley, Corinthian Casuals, Folkestone Invicta, Canvey Island, Billericay Town, Bognor Regis Town, Enfield Town, Haringey Borough, Hornchurch and Lewes ended in defeat.
With so much at stake this will be an important game for both sides and for Cray what has been a very positive season so far goes into an exciting last six weeks of the season with a chance for promotion from the Isthmian Premier for the first time still possibly on the cards.
DIRECTIONS TO BRIGHTLINGSEA REGENT
North Road, Brightlingsea, Essex CO7 0PL
Adult Entry: £12.00
Concession: £ 7.00
12 to 18 year old £ 4.00
Under 12 year old Free
PLEASE NOTE ANY SUPPORTERS WISHING TO TRAVEL BY TRAIN THAT THERE IS PLANNED INDUSTRIAL ACTION BY THE RMT UNION ON SATURDAY 18th MARCH. THE CLUB WILL BE RUNNING A COACH TO BRIGHTLINGSEA WHICH LEAVES FLAMINGO PARK AT 11 AM.
By Car: From the A12 turn off at Junction 29 for the A120 Colchester/Clacton, then turn onto left slip road, signposted Colchester. At the roundabout take the third exit onto Ipswich Road A1232, follow this road and at the second roundabout take the left turn onto the A133 St Andrews Avenue. This will continue on and take you to Brightlingsea/Wivenhoe, follow this road until turning right onto the B1027 Colchester Road heading to Wivenhoe. Continue along the B1027 road and follow into Brightlingsea. Once in Brightlingsea you will pass the Colne School. Continue on this road for 500 yards, opposite Jimmy Mac’s Plaice turn left onto Ladysmith Avenue, then left again into Spring Road and then left again onto North Road where the ground is situated at the bottom of the road.
For coach travellers please park in Cinque Port Road and access the ground via Kent Close Entrance. Post code CO7 0PZ. You will not be able to access the ground via North Road.
Rail & Bus: Due to industrial action planned on Saturday train travel is probably not advisable on this occasion. The two nearest train stations to Brightlingsea are Alresford and Wivenhoe, you also have both Colchester stations which run trains more frequently but please note there are engineering works taking place and you would need to change at Billericay for a rail replacement bus to Witham and then a train to Colchester. From there the bus service you require is the number 78 or 87. This service runs between Colchester and Brightlingsea every 30 minutes, 20 past the hour and 10 to the hour. These buses will take you to Tesco’s on Brightlingsea High Street, turn up Queen Street, left into Spring Road and then right onto North Road where the ground is situated at the bottom of the road.
Nearest pubs: The clubhouse at the ground based on our last four visits is excellent and a warm and kindly service. If you have time on your hands as a bit of trek perhaps from our neck of the woods there is the Cherry Tree (29 Church Road) which does a terrific cooked breakfast by all accounts and also the Kings Head (41 Victoria Place) is highly rated and also has live music at the weekends if thinking of staying the night.
Also on Victoria Place is the Brewers Arms which also has live music sets. As a seaside venue there is also The Rosebud Pub and Seafood Restaurant (66 Hurst Green) which overlooks the docks and seafront. On our previous visits the chippy has been a popular choice on arrival and Jimmy Mac’s Plaice on Church Road is highly recommended and the nearest to the ground.
Brightlingsea is a coastal town situated between Colchester and Clacton-on-Sea at the mouth of the River Colne. At one time the town was linked to shipbuilding and fishing and was linked to Sandwich as one of the Cinque Ports. Nowadays it is a holiday resort with a nice harbour and has one of the few open air lido’s still active. The town is steeped in history and is home to Batemans Tower which is by the Creek and had a railway station at Brightlingsea which was closed following the Beeching Report of 1963 and is now the Railway Tavern and Micro-Brewery.