Cray Wanderers vs Chesham United – FA Trophy 1st Round – Saturday 28th October, 3 pm – Match Preview

Cray Wanderers return to FA Trophy action at Hayes Lane on Saturday 28th October after two successive away league games as in form Chesham United are the visitors for a 1st Round tie. Kick off 3 pm.

The Wands will be looking to continue the FA Trophy momentum gained by the fine 1-0 win at Needham Market in the previous round on 7th October where Ellis Brown’s goal and a fine rearguard action in the second half earned a crack with cup specialists Chesham United.

After a decent league run at the end of September – beginning of October Cray have gone three league games without a win and on Tuesday night were perhaps unfortunate to drop to 20th in the Isthmian Premier table after a 2-1 defeat at Canvey Island.  The Wands were down to ten men from the 36th minute following the dismissal of Cameron Black but Cray showed determination and Gary Lockyer scored his first league goal of the season to go in front in stoppage time in the first half.  However Canvey levelled shortly after and scored the winner in the 86th minute to deny Cray what would have been  a deserved point.

Cray have certainly deserved more than the one point from the last three games and as we head to November will be looking to field a more settled side as Neil Smith hasn’t always been able to play his strongest team each week.  Since the last home game, Cray have added midfielder Alfie Evans to the team and has made substitute appearances in the last two games and young striker Alex MacAllister from Aldershot Town on a month loan and also made an appearance off the bench at Canvey Island.  Will Wood’s loan spell has come to an end and returned to Welling United.

Confidence is something hardly in short supply for Chesham United who stand 3rd in the Southern League Premier South and were 2-1 winners at home to Hendon on Tuesday night.  The Generals having played two games less are three points behind league leaders Gosport Borough.

Chesham have also excelled in cup competitions and have reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the ninth time in the club’s history after beating Walton & Hersham, Farnham Town, Margate and Braintree Town to set up a home tie with National South Maidstone United next Saturday.

In the FA Trophy 3QR Chesham beat another Isthmian Premier side, Enfield Town 4-3 at home with goals from Jordan Edwards, Steve Brown and Lucas Sinclair (2) with the winner coming in stoppage time.

In the league, James Duncan & Michael Murray’s team won their first seven games of the season and have been beaten only once so far and have 29 points from twelve games played. Away from home Chesham United have won at Hayes & Yeading (2-1), Dorchester Town (2-0), Hanwell Town (3-0), Merthyr Town (3-1) and Poole Town (5-2) and drawn at Walton & Hersham (2-2).  At home Chesham beat Hungerford Town (2-1), Plymouth Parkway (4-3), Beaconsfield Town (3-0) and Hendon (2-1), drawn with Didcot Town and their only defeat was at home to Winchester City.

Last season, Chesham United finished 5th in the Southern League Premier and like Cray reached the playoffs but were beaten in the playoff Semi-Final at Bracknell Town.

The teams have only previously met once in the FA Cup at Chesham United in September 1982 where Cray were unfortunate to lose 3-2 after twice going ahead through John Duffy and a Brian Morrison penalty but an agonising last gasp goal for Chesham sent them through.

Chesham United were formed in 1917 following a merger of Chesham Town and Chesham Generals and were Spartan League Champions three times during the 1920’s.

Following World War II, Chesham moved into the Corinthian and Athenian Leagues and reached the FA Cup 1st Round for the first time in 1966-67. The following season Chesham reached the FA Amateur Cup Final at Wembley where they lost to Leytonstone and reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup again in 1968-69 losing at Colchester United.

They moved to the Isthmian League in 1973-74 into Division 2, and after another 1st Round FA Cup appearance in 1976-77 losing to Brentford, they reached the 3rd Round in 1979-80 bowing out to Cambridge United. After beating Cray in the 1982-83 season they went on to the 1st Round again losing to Yeovil Town.

They had a couple of promotions in the Isthmian League into the Premier Division and were Isthmian League Champions in 1992-93 but denied promotion due to ground grading issues. Following relegation in 1994-95 they moved up and down and onto the Southern League for the 2004-05 season.  After moving to Division One Midlands they finished 5th in 2008-09 losing in the playoffs but went one better the following year finishing 4th and beat Slough Town in the playoff final to earn promotion to the Premier.  They reached the playoffs three seasons in a row and reached the 2nd Round of the FA Cup in 2014-15 and the 1st Round in 2018-19 until last season finishing 5th and another playoff appearance.  

This promises to be a tough tie for Cray Wanderers but have shown to rise to the occasion this season when the odds are stacked against them but also promises to be a great game.

Admission £12/£6 on gate (cash only) or online at our ticketing page – Printed Programme £2


Cray Wanderers continue their FA Trophy campaign this afternoon with a second tie against Southern League Premier opposition as cup specialists Chesham United are the visitors this afternoon.  Here Neil Smith looks back on the last three games, the home defeat to Hornchurch which was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests, a 1-1 draw in the pouring rain at Potters Bar last Saturday and a narrow defeat at Canvey Island on Tuesday night.

Hello Neil.  Let’s take a look back to the last three league games beginning on Tuesday night with a defeat at Canvey Island where the team fought hard with ten men and almost picked up a point.  I feel right now the team is not getting their just rewards.

Yes, it is looking that way at the moment. We had a chat about it on Thursday and we just need to keep working hard and hopefully things will change for us.  You cannot create luck by hoping luck changes but we are not getting the rub of the green and decisions are going against us.  Obviously we went down to ten men and worked so hard and Canvey get the winner in the 86th minute but I cannot complain about the attitude and the desire for each other for the club and it will turn for us. It will take a lot of hard work but I know I have got strong characters in the changing room. 

I felt we deserved at least a point against a very good Canvey side who reached the playoffs last season so to go there and hold them for so long with ten men the boys deserve a lot of credit.

Having been reduced to ten men following Cameron Black’s dismissal we did well didn’t we to go in front through Gary Lockyer’s header so it must have been disappointing to concede just on half time.

Yes, we said it at half time, to have gone in 1-0 up at half time with ten men where we have battled and it would have given us a lift. We did warn the boys that Canvey are very strong at set-plays and we had defended so well up until then so their player gets a free header and there isn’t much we can do after that.  It was disappointing to go in at 1-1 after we went 1-0 up on the break through Gary Lockyer.  Having to battle like that does take it out of you, we had had the heavy pitch at Potters Bar on Saturday and then to go down to ten men so early in the first half again I couldn’t fault the players attitude and desire.  

Canvey Island is always a tough place to go and I spoke to their manager afterwards and admitted they had nicked a win off us but after withstanding their pressure for so long to concede late on was gutting but I just have to keep lifting the players and supporters because I have got a good squad here and they just need to keep believing it and earning the right and I genuinely believe it will turn.

Looking back to last Saturday and the 1-1 draw at Potters Bar.  The match was played in fairly poor and wet conditions, I think it is fair to say.  We had to come from behind to pick up a point which  was the least we deserved for our efforts. What were your thoughts after the game?

Obviously the pitch wasn’t great and the rain didn’t help it either.  Definitely a deserved point and was always going to be testing conditions.  I thought we came out in the second half and started really well. Then one decision a player makes and Potters Bar take the one chance and hit the target and score.  So we had to come from behind and I think the boys showed resilience, belief and determination and played the conditions very well. 

I thought Ellis Brown took his goal well and probably should have scored another right near the end but the boys never gave up and there was a great deal of team spirit.

We were also without Frankie Raymond and Gary Lockyer and also Yahya Bamba had to go off before half time so there were factors on the day.  Also a new signing, Alfie Evans came on and I thought had a good game and got stuck into his task straight away.

Yes there were but you just have to deal with it.  It was good for us that you have Reggie Rye, 18 years old and George Brooke, 16 on the bench which shows there is a future within the club from the youth teams and Academy. 

Alfie did very well for us on the day. He came to us in pre-season but I didn’t have anything I could offer him at the time but was coming in for training on Thursday whilst playing for Phoenix Sports.  You could see he had the minutes in him so it has worked really well and it is what we have done with Archy Taylor and a couple of others as well where they go to other teams to get the minutes and we can call them back when we need them.  He showed his determination that he wants to be at the club.

Looking back to our last home game on 15th October, Hornchurch showed their qualities with Liam Nash up front but I thought there wasn’t a lot in it and 4-1 didn’t reflect the game as a whole.

Yes, I thought it was flattering to them and we were well in the game. In the first twenty minutes I thought we were dominant and then all of a sudden Liam Nash pops up and scores two goals.  I said to the boys at half time you just have to keep doing the same things as you don’t deserve to be 0-2 down.  Obviously we get a goal back, have one disallowed and I felt the decisions that went against us from the officials were very poor. Even in the first half I thought they should have been down to ten men when Ellis Brown was brought down when the last man going in on goal.  We had two penalty decisions go against us and in the second half the decisions went for them. I’m not saying those decisions would have changed the result but perhaps the course of the game.

Finally lets move on to this afternoon and our visitors Chesham United who are riding on the crest of a wave at the moment in the league and in the FA Cup 1st Round vs Maidstone United next weekend.

They are going to be very confident and as you say doing well in the league and both cups.  We know it is going to be a very difficult game like it was at Needham Market a couple of weeks ago.  

We just need to get a bit of belief and consistency.  I don’t think we are too far away and it would be nice to have the same side out for a couple of games at least and hopefully can put a little run together.