A little piece of history beckons for Cray Wanderers tomorrow night as they play their first ever home game on a 3G surface as they take on Dorking Wanderers at Hayes Lane. Kick off is 7.45pm and admission costs £6.00 adults and £3.00 concessions.
After an extremely efficient pre-season campaign to date, the Wands with all due respect to the teams already played this will definitely be the toughest test so far.
Cray have won their last six pre-season games all away from home but now with the opportunity arising to test out the newly laid playing surface Cray should be ready and primed for the big kick off on August 12th.
There have been a large number of positives to take from pre-season especially the form of the defence which has been very solid and conceded only four goals. Already, Barney Williams and Mitchell Nelson look like inspired signings and with Jay Leader returning to the club there is definite strength defensively. Keeper Nick Blue has also looked in top form. Another player to perfom well pre-season has been Dean Carpenter who looks strong and gives the midfield an extra shield.
Perhaps the true positive has been the performances of some very young players like Freddie Parker, Marcus Evans, Ken Charles and Josh Owen and these are very much potential stars of the future. Cray have maybe been looking for an extra bit of sharpness in attack but signs are they have been clicking into gear. They might have to be on top form tomorrow as Dorking Wanderers are a strong side and concede few chances in a game and had the best defensive record in the league last season.
Dorking Wanderers will prove a tough test for Tony Russell’s side and last season gained promotion to the Bostik Premier by winning the South playoffs. Marc White’s team had an excellent season in the league and only missed out on the title on goal difference to champions Tooting & Mitcham United after finishing level on an impressive 105 points. They had two dramatic playoff games winning both on penalties to gain promotion to the Premier for the first time. Against Hastings United in the semi-final after a 1-1 draw, Dorking won 4-3 on penalties and then in a tense final Dorking defeated Corinthian Casuals 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw after extra time. A very attack minded side, Dorking Wanderers did the double over Cray last season winning 2-1 at home in September and a highly efficient 2-0 win at Hayes Lane in early April. Three of their players got into the Ryman South team of the year, left back Robb Sheridan, and midfielders James McShane and Matthew Briggs.
A remarkable success story, Dorking Wanderers were only formed in 1999 and clawed their way up the Sussex Leagues and in 2014-15 earned promotion from Division One of the Sussex County League. After finishing second in their first season in the Ryman South and a playoff semi final defeat to Faversham Town, this led to last season being such a great success. They hoped to begin life in their new stadium at Meadowbank but building work has been delayed until later in the year but certainly they are a club heading in the right direction.
Tomorrow night and Saturday’s trip to Merstham are final steps in the long pre-season campaign and there is now much anticipation ahead of the opening Thamesmead Town game