Cray Wanderers begin the first of four successive home matches on Wednesday evening as Bognor Regis Town are the visitors to Hayes Lane. Kick off, 7.45pm.
The Wands will be looking to build on the momentum of the two New Year games which produced four points out of six with the game at Potters Bar Town on Saturday being postponed on the day of the game due to a waterlogged pitch. Cray will be looking to pick up some much needed points in the next four games to help ease the Wands away from the bottom three.
Cray were able to field an unchanged side for the two New Year games there was much to commend the performances particularly going forward and can be encouraged by seven goals in two games to start the year. Grant Basey who arrived at the club in late December didn’t have long to work with the team but along with Gary Alexander alongside him looks to have raised morale quite quickly. Since the last game, a 4-4 draw with Enfield Town, the Wands have added midfielder Luca Albon to the squad. Anthony Cook remains the top scorer this season with 10 goals but have scored 12 goals in the last five league games and look a lot more potent in attack than earlier in the season.
Bognor Regis Town are always tough opponents and are currently 13th in the league table with 27 points. The Rocks are five league games without a win have not played since New Year’s Day after their last two matches at home to Merstham and away to Carshalton Athletic on Saturday were postponed. The club are managed by Jack Pearce who has a very long association with the club and match duties by experienced f ormer Bradford City and Burnley striker, Robbie Blake.
Away form up to New Year’s Day where they were beaten at Lewes had been good and that is their only league defeat on the road. They have picked up wins at Worthing (2-0), Brightlingsea Regent (5-0), Cheshunt (1-0) and Margate (2-1). Bognor Regis Town drew at East Thurrock United (2-2), Horsham (1-1), Potters Bar Town (2-2), Bowers & Pitsea (0-0) and Haringey Borough (3-3) and lost at Lewes (0-2). At home Bognor beat Carshalton Athletic (1-0), Leatherhead (3-2) and drew with Bishop’s Stortford, Wingate & Finchley, Kingstonian and Enfield Town. They were beaten by Haringey Borough, Folkestone Invicta, Hornchurch and Worthing. In the FA Cup The Rocks were beaten at Hayes & Yeading (3-4) in the 1st QR while in the FA Trophy advanced past Waltham Abbey but were beaten at Truro on penalties in the 1st Round after a 1-1 draw. Bognor are through to the Quarter Finals of the Sussex Senior Cup after beating East Grinstead Town and Bexhill scoring ten goals along the way and face local rivals Worthing in the Quarter Final next Tuesday. Leading scorer is Nathan Odonkyero with 15 goals.
Matches between the two sides haven’t been frequent down the years with just the seven league meetings, all in the Isthmian Premier. The Wands record is in need of improvement and have just the one victory, 2-0 at Bognor Regis in February 2013. Bognor have won 5 times and one match has been drawn. The last meeting between the sides was on 14th December 2019 where Bognor Regis won 7-2 with Dan Smith (2), Doug Tuck (2), Ashton Leigh, Tommy Leigh and an own goal scoring for the home side with Joe Taylor scoring twice for Cray. The sides never met again in the league again that season nor during the much shortened and curtailed 2020-21 season so long overdue another encounter. The last meeting was at Hayes Lane was on 24th January 2014 with Bognor winning 2-1 with Paul Vines scoring for Cray and Terry Dodd and Kane Wills scoring for the visitors.
Bognor Regis Town were formed in 1883 and spent their early years in the West Sussex and then Brighton & Hove District leagues.They then joined the Sussex County League in 1927 and stayed there until the 1970’s. They won the Division One Championship in 1972-73 and were promoted to the Southern League and then in 1981 moved to Division Three of the Isthmian League and were promoted straight away. They were promoted to the Premier in 2002-03 and two years later were moved to the National South where they stayed until 2008-09 and were relegated to the Isthmian South in 2009-10 and met Cray Wanderers for the first time. They missed out on goal difference in 2010-11 for promotion from the South Division and lost in the playoffs to Dulwich Hamlet. In 2011-12 they gained promotion via the playoffs beating Godalming and Dulwich Hamlet to go up to the Premier. They were consistent promotion challengers and in 2013-14 finished 3rd but lost in the playoffs to Lowestoft Town. In 2015-16 they came 2nd but lost to Dulwich Hamlet and also reached the Semi-Finals of the FA Trophy losing to Grimsby Town. In 2016-17 they came 2nd again but this time beat Wingate & Finchley and Dulwich Hamlet to earn promotion to the National South once again. In 2017-18 they were relegated and in 2018-19 consolidated finishing 14th and won the Sussex Senior Cup. Bognor were 8th when the 2019-20 season was null and voided and were 14th last season.
Matches under the lights have seen some excellent games this season and this should be no different. Ticket prices £10.00 adults £5.00 concessions online at www.cray-wanderers.com/tickets or pay on the gate (cash only).