Cray Wanderers vs Dulwich Hamlet – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 25th November, 3 pm – Match Preview

Cray Wanderers return to league action on Saturday following last weekend’s FA Trophy break with the first of a double header of home league matches as Dulwich Hamlet are the visitors to Hayes Lane. KO 3 pm.

Cray will be looking to bounce back from last Saturday’s defeat at Weston-super-Mare and look to build on two successive league wins in a bid to move up from 17th in the Isthmian Premier league table.  Dulwich Hamlet are 11th on nineteen points, unbeaten in six league games but are only three clear of Cray and should be an exciting game.

Last Saturday Gary Lockyer scored her sixth goal of the season with one of the strikes of the weekend and despite the defeat, Neil Smith was pleased with the effort and performance from the team down in Somerset with perhaps the home side being more clinical in front of goal.

In the league, Cray have been more resolute and in the last league outing beat playoff contenders Carshalton Athletic with a fine team performance.  Alfie Evans is available after missing the trip to Weston after being cup-tied and has impressed in midfield along with ex Hamlet players, Nyren Clunis, David Ijaha and Frankie Raymond. Other former Dulwich players in the Cray squad include Jack Holland, Anthony Cook, George Porter, Jamie Mascoll and Cameron Thompson. Nyren Clunis played 486 games for Hamlet and has also scored six goals for the season while Yahya Bamba has five.

Dulwich Hamlet come into the game on the back of a 3-1 home league win vs. Folkestone Invicta last Saturday with goals from Michael Chambers, Danny Mills and Ryley Scott in front of a 3,069 crowd.  

Hakan Hayrettin took over as manager in March and Hamlet will be looking for an instant return to the National South after relegation last season on the slightest of margins.  Dulwich finished in 21st place on 48 points level with Dover Athletic and Weymouth but Dover stayed up with a -26 goal difference to Hamlet’s -28.

So far away from home Dulwich have won at Wingate & Finchley (3-2) and drawn at Hashtag United (2-2), Whitehawk (1-1) and Haringey Borough (1-1) and were beaten at Horsham (2-3), Hornchurch (1-2), Cheshunt (1-2) and Billericay Town (0-3).  At home Hamlet have beaten Canvey Island (4-1), Concord Rangers (2-0), Kingstonian (3-2) and Folkestone Invicta (3-1). They drew with Margate and lost to Hastings United and Chatham Town.  In the FA Cup, Dulwich were beaten at Haringey Borough after a replay and in the FA Trophy won at Cheshunt but lost at home to Lewes in the 1st Round. In the Velocity League Cup, Dulwich were beaten at Kingstonian and in the London Senior Cup advanced at Erith Town in the 1st Round.  Luke Wanadio is the leading scorer so far with seven in league and cups.

The teams met almost a year ago on 30th November, 2022 in the London Senior Cup 2nd Round at Dulwich who won an exciting game 4-3 with Yahya Bamba, Anthony Cook and Sam Wood scoring for Cray and Jayden Clarke (2), Omari Hibbert and George Porter scoring for Hamlet.

The teams first met in league competition in 2004-05 when Cray joined the Isthmian League Division One and there were some good games over the next five seasons before Cray won promotion in 2008-09. We met in the Premier in the rather disastrous 2013-14 season for the Wands with Hamlet winning 4-0 at home in August 2013 and 6-0 at Hayes Lane in December 2013. Nyren Clunis featured in both games for Hamlet.  

Dulwich Hamlet are one of the famous names of South London football and were formed in 1893 and have spent a large chunk of their history from 1907-08 in the Isthmian League. Dulwich won the Isthmian League in 1919-20, the first full season after World War I and also won the FA Amateur Cup on the first of four occasions beating Tufnell Park, 1-0 in the Final at the Den. They won the league again in 1925-26 and won the FA Amateur Cup in 1931-32 beating Marine 7-1 in the final at Upton Park. They were Isthmian Champions for the third time the following season and in 1933-34 won their third FA Amateur Cup beating Leyton, 2-1 at West Ham and again two seasons later also against Leyton.

Their fourth Isthmian League title came after World War II in 1948-49 and remained in the Isthmian League Premier or league 1 and 2 all the way through the next five decades. In 2011-12 Dulwich finished 3rd in the Isthmian South losing to Bognor Regis Town in the playoff final but were promoted as champions in 2012-13.  Constantly challengers, Dulwich reached the promotion playoffs four seasons in a row, missing out in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 before finished 2nd in 2017-18 and after defeating Leiston and Hendon finally reached the National South for the first time in their history finishing 14th in 2018-19 and after two incomplete seasons finished 10th in 2021/22, their highest ever league position before relegation last season.

Games against Dulwich Hamlet are always big occasions usually watched by a significant away support and this should be an enjoyable game on a chilly November afternoon.

Admission £12, £6 on the gate (cash only) or online at  Printed match programme, £2, golden goal tickets £1


Cray Wanderers return to league action this afternoon following the FA Trophy break as Dulwich Hamlet are the visitors for a league match for the first time since December 2013.  Here Neil Smith looks back on the trip to Weston-super-Mare last Saturday, the last league match vs Carshalton Athletic and the challenge Dulwich Hamlet will pose today.

Hello Neil.  It was a nice trip down to Weston-super-Mare last Saturday and despite the result it was a good day out. I understand though it wasn’t all plain sailing in the buildup to the game!

It was a lovely trip to Weston though we had players finishing work at 6 am to get a train to Paddington at 8 am but it was a good journey down.  Then we got there and we found out that the game was only finalised to be on at 2 pm so the prep was a bit up in the air.

It was a great start from us and a terrific goal from Gary Lockyer but we were disappointed to concede an equaliser though they had been threatening it.  We came in at half time 1-1 but we had to take Antonio Dembele off as his back was sore, Ellis Brown hadn’t been well during the week but put himself out there and ran himself into the ground.

Weston-super-Mare were very clinical and if they win their games in hand they go above mid-table in a very strong National South League.

I thought Weston took their chances very well and were very clinical in their finishing which is perhaps the difference between the level they play at and teams like Needham Market and Chesham we played in the previous rounds.

That’s right, they had a couple of ex league players up front with Marlon Jackson and later Reuben Reid who has been their talisman for them scoring a few goals as a substitute so they had strength in depth.  It was good to also see Alex Fletcher out there after what happened to him after his injury whilst playing for Bath City and you could see the quality of them in that final third.

We got off to a cracking start scoring after 55 seconds and you probably wouldn’t have seen a better goal anywhere last weekend from Gary Lockyer.  Overall though, no complaints with the final result?

It was a brilliant goal.  Great speed of thought from Frankie Raymond taking a quick free kick, a great touch from Ellis Brown and then the finish from Gary.  He does it in training, you wouldn’t put him up there with those strikers who can hit the ball from so far out but he is a very good finisher and just loves scoring goals. So when he got on the end of it and did what he did it probably shocked everybody.

No complaints about the result, we had Weston looked at and spoke to a few people and they all said the same, they are a good side, pass and move, keep the ball well and probably should be scoring more goals than they do but hit that run of form against us.  

Despite the result I was proud of the boys, they never stopped running around, Gary had a couple more chances, Yahya ran his socks off and you are travelling away to a team with plenty of experience, knowledge and knowhow who used it to full force on Saturday. 

Let’s look back to our last home game a fortnight ago against Carshalton Athletic. It was a very hard fought three points but a big three points for us wasn’t it!

That’s right, it was an excellent win for us against a team challenging for the playoffs and with the likes of Dan Bassett in the side perhaps looking to prove a point against his former club.  I thought overall we deserved to win as we had a game plan and it worked to perfection. 

Defensively we were excellent with David and Jack in the middle and in midfield Alfie Evans was superb and worked his socks off and Gary up front and when Carshalton did get through Shaun Rowley showed what a quality goalkeeper he is to keep us in front with four great saves.  All the team put in a great shift and worked hard for the three points.

Moving on to today’s game against Dulwich Hamlet, the first time we have played them in the league since the 2013-14 season. Perhaps they haven’t set the world alight in the league as yet as expected but games against Hamlet are always great occasions aren’t they!

That’s right, Dulwich under Hakan Hayrettin and Terry Harris are a good side and had an excellent win against Folkestone Invicta last Saturday and are six unbeaten in the league so are starting to climb the table.  They will be looking for a quick return back to the National South this season and we know it will be nothing other than a difficult game as they are a strong side, however we are looking forward to the match and the challenge.