Cray Wanderers vs Bishop’s Stortford – Pitching In Isthmian Premier – Sunday 11th October, 2020, 3pm. Match Preview


After a four match road trip which took in Essex, South East Kent, Hampshire and Hertfordshire Cray Wanderers return to home action on Sunday as Bishop’s Stortford are the visitors to Hayes Lane. Kick off 3pm. This will be Cray Wanderers first home game with Bishop’s Stortford for over 50 years.

Both sides have made solid starts to the Isthmian Premier season with Cray in third place after four matches on nine points with Bishop’s Stortford in sixth but one point behind.

Cray Wanderers saw their unbeaten 2020 come to an end at Potters Bar Town on Tuesday night with a 3-0 defeat but despite the loss optimism is still high with Tony Russell and the team and have bounced back perfectly well from defeats in the past. Despite, the uncertainty of a late start to the season, heavy schedule in September and another in October in league and cups, Cray have begun the season well, 20 goals scored in the first six games shows the attacking quality in the team and Joe Taylor with 8 goals has hit the ground running in the early weeks.

Also on Tuesday night, lively appearances from Bradley Pritchard and Ben Mundele off the bench, plus the return of Jason Banton after missing the previous two games show a side just beginning to shake of the early season injuries with Kyron Richards hopefully soon to make his league first team debut and Karl Dent more long term the main injury doubts at the moment.

Bishop’s Stortford have begun the season well too and Steve Smith’s side on Tuesday drew 1-1 at home to Folkestone Invicta with an Aaron Greene first half goal cancelled out in the second half. Sunday will be their first away league game of the season after a 2-2 home draw with Bognor Regis, a 1-0 win against Hornchurch and impressively winning 4-1 at home to Enfield Town on 29th September with new signing from East Thurrock United, Frankie Merrifield scoring a hat-trick. Like Cray, the Blues are through to the 3rd QR of the FA Cup after victories at Welwyn Garden City and at home to Brentwood Town and meet Royston Town at home on Wednesday night.

The teams met only once last season on 17th September, 2019 and possibly the night when Cray Wanderers announced their arrival to the Isthmian Premier with a 5-1 win at Bishop’s Stortford with Joe Taylor (2), Tom Murphy (2) & Karl Dent scoring. The home match planned for 11th April never took place due to the Coronavirus outbreak. At the end of the season, Bishop’s Stortford were 17th in the table.

The only previous meeting at Cray was in December 1969 in the London Senior Cup at Grassmeade with Bishop’s won 4-1. The Blues have since then become renowned as a cup fighting side with an impressive 12 appearances in the 1st Round of the FA Cup and the first team to win FA Amateur Cup and FA Trophy Finals at Wembley.

After playing in local leagues early on in their history they joined the Spartan League and after the 2nd World War later moved to the Delphinian and Athenian Leagues. It was from 1970 when they reached the 1st round of the FA Cup losing to Reading that they began to make national headlines and in 1970-71 moved to the Isthmian League Premier. In 1973 they reached the 2ndRound of the FA Cup losing to Peterborough and in 1973-74 became the last ever winners of the FA Amateur Cup beating Ilford 4-1 at Wembley.After a couple more good cup runs they were relegated to Division One of the Isthmian in 1977-78 bouncing back three years later. In 1980-81 they won the FA Trophy beating Sutton United 1-0 and in 1982-83 broke new ground by reaching the 3rd Round of the FA Cup beating Reading and Slough Town along the way and drew 2-2 at 2nd Division Middlesbrough before losing 1-2 after extra-time in the replay.

The club bounced back and forth from Division One to the Premier and in 2003-04 after non-league restructuring were placed in the new Conference South where they stayed until 2011-12 when they were moved to the Conference North where they stayed for two seasons before returning to the South for 2013-14. They were relegated in 2016-17 to the Southern Premier but in 2018-19 were returned to the Isthmian Premier where they finished 7th in their first season back and then 17thin the season that never finished.

It seems a long time since Cray Wanderers played a home game and should be a good game between two good, confident sides and at a time when football is becoming detached from fans why not let your friends who may be bereft of watching live football to come and watch. Tickets £10.00 adults, £5.00 concs/U16s and are available online here