There is a pre-Christmas cracker on Wednesday night as Cray Wanderers take on Charlton Athletic in the Quarter Final of the Kent Reliance Senior Cup at Hayes Lane. Kick off is 7.45pm to a finish.
The match seems to have been in the making for quite some time after Cray advanced to the Quarter Finals in September. To reach this round Cray won 3-0 at Thamesmead Town on 23rd August in the 1st Round. They then produced an excellent display to defeat Dartford 4-2 at Hayes Lane. One of the stars of the competition so far for Cray has been Ralique Lawrence who marked his Cray debut by winning a penalty and scoring at Thamesmead and then claimed a hat-trick in the Dartford tie. He could feature again on Wednesday night as Tony Russell is expected to field some of the younger players in the squad who will benefit from playing a professional team like Charlton and keeping some of the first team squad fresh for what is a hectic four game Christmas/New Year programme.
Cray come into the game on the back of a 15 game unbeaten league run which has taken them into 2nd place in the Bostik South league table and Cray have lost just once in the last 22 games in league and cup and that was at National South Braintree Town in the FA Trophy. The start of the run began with the Dartford win which also saw Michael Power score the first of 24 goals this season. The game showed that Cray could rise to the occasion against a higher ranked team and there are some very good young Wands players who will be looking to make a mark in the game.
Charlton Athletic will be bringing their U23 team over for the game and Jason Euell’s side are a good team who are fifth in the Professional Development League after 14 games. The Addicks are three times winners of the competition in 1994-95, 2012-13 and 2014-15 and were beaten finalists in 2015-16. They started their Kent Senior Cup run in the 2nd round with a 1-0 win at near-neighbours Welling United at Park View Road in September. Naby Sarr scoring the only goal.
In the league away from home Charlton have won at Crewe Alexandra (4-1), Bristol City (1-0) and Millwall (2-1) and drew at Hull City and Colchester United. Their only defeats came at Sheffield Wednesday (1-3) and Cardiff City (2-4). At their Sparrows Lane home ground Charlton beat Leeds United (1-0), Watford (2-0) and Millwall (1-0) and drew with Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town and against Cardiff City as recently as Monday night. They were beaten by Barnsley and QPR at home.
Although expected to field the U23 side there is always the possibility of one or two senior players maybe needing a game and making an appearance.
The two sides met in the competition as recently as two seasons ago in the 2nd round where holders Charlton won 4-1 at Hayes Lane in November 2015. Grant Basey scored for Cray from the penalty spot and three current Cray players played in that match, Nick Blue, Joe Vines and Karl Dent. For three seasons in the late 50’s early 60’s the Wands played the Charlton Athletic “A” team in the Aetolian League. Cray had some good success winning five and losing one of those games. The last game was played on 13th January 1962 with Cray winning 3-2 with two goals from Ted Clarke and Bill McCartney on target for Cray that day.
Charlton Athletic were formed in 1905 and entered the Football League for the first time in 1921. Their most successful period was before and after World War II reaching the 1st Division for the first time in 1936 and finished runners up in 1937 to Manchester City. When big time football returned after the War Charlton were a force in cup football reaching the FA Cup Final in 1946 losing to Derby County (1-4) before coming back to Wembley the next season and winning the FA Cup for the first time beating Burnley 1-0 with Chris Duffy scoring and they at that time were one of the biggest supported clubs in the country. They stayed in the top flight until 1957 but then went through some lean years with a couple of spells in the old 3rd Division.
The club almost folded in 1984 when they went in administration and at the start of the 1985-86 season were forced to leave their Valley home which once had 75,000 people in attendance in 1938 due to safety concerns and ground shared at Selhurst Park for a number of years. Strangely considering the difficult financial restraints on Lennie Lawrence and his team incredibly they were promoted back to the 1st Division after a near 30 year absence and stayed there for four seasons which is actually something of an unheralded story which deserved better praise and mention in the media (not one Charlton game was televised live in all that time). Eventually Charlton were relegated in 1989-90 and understandably struggled back in what later became the Championship.
However, after much local support, campaigns including a political party and finally relenting from Greenwich Council Charlton returned to a refurbished and rejuvenated Valley on 5th December 1992 with Colin Walsh’s goal beating Portsmouth and a new history was about to be re-written. In a case of heavy poignancy the two sides met again just recently on the 25 year anniversary of the return to the Valley.
A memorable playoff final at Wembley against Sunderland in 1997-98 after a 4-4 draw and penalty shootout victory saw promotion for Alan Curbishley’s side to the Premier League where they were relegated after one season but came back again as 1st Division Champions in 1999-2000. They stayed in the Premier League until 2006-07 often finishing in the top half of the table. Since then their fortunes have flagged somewhat and nowadays find themselves in League 1 (Division 3 in old money) and once again their supporters have faced off the field matters but the club have always done well at Development and Youth level and in building Community relations.
This should be a great way to prepare for the festive season and Admission costs £10.00 adults, £5.00 concessions/U16s/Students on presentation of card.