Cray Wanderers vs Billericay Town – Isthmian Premier, Saturday 19th August, 3 pm – Match Preview

Cray Wanderers play their second home game in three days on Saturday 19th August as Billericay Town are the visitors to Hayes Lane.  Neil Smith’s side are looking to bounce back from Wednesday nights defeat to Horsham and seek their first points of the season against a Billericay side who have started with back to back wins.

After a difficult first half on Wednesday night where Horsham blazed into a two goal lead and could have scored more but Cray fought back in the second half through Anthony Cook’s goal before the hour and had chances to draw level before Horsham scored a third deep into added on time.

Cray should be boosted on Saturday with the return of midfielder Frankie Raymond who was suspended for the opening two games while the main injury doubt is George Porter who came off after just quarter of an hour on Wednesday night.  There were some good performances, Shaun Rowley has continued where he left off last season with key saves in both games and Cameron Black has impressed alongside Jack Holland at centre-half.

The Wands are just looking for that little more bite in the final third and despite the two early defeats there is no need to panic too much with the games coming thick and fast and things will eventually click.

It will be though another very tough test on Saturday as Billericay Town after something of a flat 2022-23 season have recruited strongly in the summer under the new management of Gary McCann and are one of many pundits favourites for promotion this season.  

A number of players have been recruited adding great depth including former Welling United and Dartford striker Ade Azeez who scored the winner at home to Kingstonian last Saturday. Other signings include defender Tom Bender, midfielders James Blanchfield and Matt Johnson and striker Malachai Napa.

Billericay began the season with a 1-0 win at home to Kingstonian last Saturday and followed that up with another 1-0 win away to Cheshunt on Tuesday night courtesy of an early goal from former Canvey Island, East Thurrock United and Bishop’s Stortford striker, Frankie Merrifield. Billericay currently stand 5th in the table and one of five clubs with maximum points after two matches.

Town finished 10th last season and both games between the sides were dramatic.  Billericay beat Cray 2-1 at home on the opening day of last season after Dan Bassett gave Cray a half time lead with Chris Dickson and a late Alfie Cerulli goal winning the game for the home side.  The return game at Hayes Lane on a cold afternoon on 17th December was equally exciting with Cray winning 4-3. Goals from Anthony Cook and Dan Bassett put Cray two nil up before two Bradley Stevenson goals tied the game at 2-2.  Tom Derry put Cray back in front with seven minutes to go before Marvin Ekpiteta made it 3-3 with three minutes to go. However, in the ninth minute of injury time Sam Skeffington grabbed a winner for Cray and seal a thrilling game.

This will undoubtedly be a very tough test of the Wands resolve but should also be a good, keenly contested game.

Admission £12 adults, £6 concessions – online via the ticketing page or pay on gate, Cash Only.  Printed programme £2, Golden Goals £1