Canvey Island vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier, Tuesday 24th October, 7.45 pm – Match Preview

Cray Wanderers are on their travels this evening as Neil Smith’s side visit Canvey Island as part of a full Isthmian Premier midweek fixture list. Kick off at the Movie Starr Stadium, 7.45 pm.  This will be the second trip to the Island in October after the Wands visited Concord Rangers earlier in the month.

Cray will be looking to build on the positives of a 1-1 draw at a soggy Potters Bar Town on Saturday which although the Wands moved back into the relegation places into 19th place they showed sufficient character in difficult conditions to earn a point through Ellis Brown’s well taken leveller.

The Wands went a goal down early in the second half but came close to winning the game late on also through Brown but in the end the point from the first league draw of the season was the least Cray deserved for their efforts on the day.

Cray will hope to have Frankie Raymond and Gary Lockyer available for selection after missing the trip to Hertfordshire but Will Wood who played on Saturday has been recalled by Welling United and his loan spell with the Wands has come to an end.  Defensively Cray were very composed on Saturday and Cameron Black showed his qualities with an assist for Brown’s goal while in midfield Alfie Evans made an eye catching and energetic debut as substitute late in the first half.

Canvey Island like Cray Wanderers were Isthmian Premier Playoff semi-finalists last season and are currently 12th in the table on 15 points but only four points off the playoff places.

Canvey will be looking to bounce back from a 2-6 defeat at Wingate & Finchley on Saturday after twice going ahead through Mason Hall and Luke Deslandes but traditionally Brad Wellmen’s side are a hard one to break down.

At home this season Canvey Island have only played four league games and beat Haringey Borough (3-2) and Margate (4-1) but were beaten by Bognor Regis Town (1-3) and Whitehawk (1-2).  Away from home Canvey won at Concord Rangers (3-1), Billericay Town (1-0) and Carshalton Athletic (3-0) but were beaten at Dulwich Hamlet, Kingstonian and Wingate & Finchley.

In the FA Cup, Canvey won at home to Lowestoft Town but were beaten at Braintree Town in the 2nd Qualifying Round after a replay while in the FA Trophy were beaten in the 3rd Qualifying Round at Walton & Hersham.

Canvey had an excellent season in 2022-23, their first back in the Isthmian Premier following promotion from the Isthmian North and settled well finishing 3rd on 81 points helped by a 13 game unbeaten run from February but were beaten on penalties at home to Aveley in the playoff semi-final.

Last season’s encounters were tight affairs with Cray winning 1-0 at Hayes Lane on 20th August with a last gasp Billy Crook goal and finished 1-1 at Canvey on 7th January as Yahya Bamba’s second half header cancelled out Elliot Johnson’s goal.

Canvey Island were founded in 1926 and first met Cray Wanderers in league action in the Greater London League in 1965-66, a year when Cray won the league. We met up again in the early-mid 70’s in the Metropolitan London League before quite a gap until our paths crossed again in the Isthmian Premier for five seasons from 2009. 

They have a good FA Cup record and reached the 1st Round in 1995-96 losing to Brighton after a replay. In 2000-01, a great year for the club they made it to the 2nd Round beating Port Vale after a replay before losing to Southend United. They also won the FA Trophy that season, beating Forest Green Rovers in the final at Villa Park. The following season they did even better getting to the 3rd Round after beating Wigan away and Northampton Town in a televised tie before losing at Burnley. In 2003-04 they were promoted to the Conference where they spent two seasons before taking voluntary demotion to the Isthmian North winning promotion to the Premier in 2007-08. They stayed in the Premier until 2016-17 when they were relegated to the North reaching the playoff final in 2017-18 losing to Haringey Borough. Canvey had a very consistent season in 2021-22 in the Isthmian North and finished 2nd, two points behind champions Aveley which meant another crack at the playoffs. After a 3-1 win at home to Felixstowe & Walton United, Canvey won a tense final against Brentwood Town on penalties after a 1-1 draw after extra time.  They kept their nerve in the shoot-out 4-1 to clinch promotion and followed that up with a 3rd placed finish last season.

This promises to be an intriguing battle with valuable points at stake before Cray head to the FA Trophy tie with Chesham United on Saturday.


Canvey Island FC –The Movie Starr Stadium, Park Lane, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 7PX

Admission: £12 adults, £7 concessions/Students with valid ID, £2 u16s (accompanied)  

Programme: Printed programme

By Car:

Exit M25 at Junction 30 and take the A13 towards Southend. You will reach a series of mini roundabouts. At these roundabouts, take the A130 towards Canvey Island. At the next roundabout take the 2nd exit which will keep a sports centre on your right and follow signs for Canvey Island Football Club. Eventually, you will enter a one way system. Keep left through the one way system and after one mile you will pass the Transport Museum on your right. Park Lane is on the right hand side shortly afterwards, with the stadium located in front of you. There is plenty of parking outside the ground.

By Train:

Benfleet Station is 40 minutes from London Fenchurch Street on the C2C line. The station is 5 miles from the ground. There is a taxi rank around the back of the station. Alternatively, you can use the frequent bus service from the front of the station:  There are plenty of trains from Fenchurch Street or from stations in the East End or Essex during the hour going to Benfleet on a Tuesday and on the way back after the game there are five trains an hour although some take longer than others.   Direct trains are probably easier from West Ham and there are seven trains an hour taking commuters back into Essex although some trains take slightly longer than others. Please check the National Rail Enquiries website for return trains.  

By Bus:

You can use the number 22 or 27 bus to Leigh Beck to be dropped directly outside Park Lane. Alternatively, you can use the number 21 or 21A to be dropped by the sea wall. From here, continue walking in the direction you travelled across some playing fields, and you will see ground on your left.  

The nearest recommended pubs in Canvey Island are the Lobster Smack, a Dickensian themed pub/restaurant which used to feature bare knuckle boxing in the Victorian era (Haven Road, SS8 0NR), the Haystack Public House (96 Furtherwick Road, SS8 7AE) and Windjammer (Eastern Esplanade SS8 7HG).  For Benfleet Station, there is the Hoy and Helmet which is just across the road in the High Street.  Opposite is the Half Crown.  The recommended chippie is the Islander on Furtherwick Road near the Haystack Pub.   

Canvey Island is a reclaimed island in the Thames Estuary and the coastal part of the Island became a fashionable place to live and visit especially for Londoners looking for a bit of sea air. It has a promenade of amusements, clubs and stalls which are situated not too far away from the ground.  Sadly, the area being fairly low is prone to flooding and in February 1953, the North Sea flood hit the island leading to 58 deaths and damage to holiday homes. The South of the island has been associated with the petrochemical industry and oil refineries have been based there since the 1930’s.