Cray Wanderers vs Enfield Town – Isthmian Premier, Friday 29th December, 7.45 pm – Match Preview

Cray Wanderers play their final game of 2023 on Friday 29th December with Enfield Town the visitors to Hayes Lane.  Kick off 7.45 pm.

It has been a momentous year for Cray Wanderers on and off the pitch in 2023 and finish things off against 3rd place Enfield Town before returning on New Years Day against Hastings United.

The Wands started the run of festive home games on Boxing Day against Margate at Hayes Lane.  The game was abandoned by the match official with around two minutes of stoppage time, maybe more to play following a  concussion injury to Yahya Bamba with the score, 0-0 and the Isthmian League have decided after deliberation earlier today that the result of 0-0 stands. 

Cray manager Neil Smith was pleased with the defensive display from the team and was looking for more solidity and a clean sheet.  It was a game of precious few chances but Cray were beginning towards the end to create openings with perhaps the best falling to Bamba and Ellis Brown but overall it was a match where both teams cancelled each out to a large degree.

The point against Margate did move Cray up one place in the league table to 17th on 20 points but will face a tough challenge against perennial playoff contenders Enfield Town who are 3rd on 40 points after 20 games.

On Boxing Day, Gavin McPherson’s side won 2-1 at Cheshunt in front of a crowd in excess of 1000 through a Sam Youngs strike and an own goal before Cheshunt pulled a goal back.  Enfield Town have lost just one of their last seven league games.

When the two sides met at Enfield on 26th August, Enfield were 2-0 winners with second half goals from Marcus Wyllie who has 17 for the season. Youngs leads the scorers with 18 following his goal on Boxing Day.

Away from home Enfield have won at Potters Bar Town (2-0), Folkestone Invicta (2-1), Kingstonian (3-2), Wingate & Finchley (4-1) and Cheshunt (2-1) and drawn at Haringey Borough (1-1) and Billericay Town (1-1). Their only defeats came at Lewes (0-4), Hornchurch (0-2) and Chatham Town (1-3).  At home Enfield Town beat Concord Rangers (3-0), Cray Wanderers (2-0), Hashtag United (6-3), Canvey Island (3-0), Hastings United (3-1), Margate (2-0) and Dulwich Hamlet (3-2). They drew with Bognor Regis Town and Whitehawk with the only defeat against Carshalton Athletic in September.  In the FA Cup, Enfield Town reached the 4th Qualifying Round beating Potters Bar Town, Felixstowe & Walton and Halesowen Town before losing at Cray Valley PM. In the FA Trophy, Enfield Town were beaten at Chesham United in the 3QR. 

There have been some dramatic games between the sides in recent years often with plenty of goals so it should be a great way to see off 2023 in style with an entertaining game of football.

Admission £12/£6, on the gate (cash only) or online at Match programme £2, Golden Goal £1.

70 years ago in the Malayan Jungle, our very own Bill Lappage was down to his last can of food on Christmas Day – “I know what it feels like to not have access to food around Christmas, so I want to help those in need!”
In collaboration with Lewisham Food Bank, an organisation dedicated to providing emergency food and support to those in hardship, we are taking action. On Friday, the 29th of December, we are offering HALF PRICE entry for every individual who generously contributes much-needed food items or non-perishables. Join us in making a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need during this season of giving. (Adult tickets only)


Cray Wanderers vs. Enfield Town/Hastings United

Isthmian Premier – Friday 29th December/1st January 2024

The Programme Notes of Neil Smith

Cray Wanderers end 2023 and begin 2024 with two home games against promotion contenders Enfield Town and Hastings United.  Here Neil Smith looks back to Boxing Day and the difficult situation at the end of the match for Yahya Bamba and sets the scene for the festive games.

Hello Neil. Before we look ahead to the Christmas/New Year double header let’s go back to Boxing Day and the very difficult situation at the end involving Yahya Bamba. When faced with these tough moments involving players and their safety and livelihoods what goes through a manager’s mind?

With moments like this the priority is always with the player. Hopefully he is healthy and safe, which to be fair having someone like Ally Maloney on the sideline who was amazing as well as the Margate physio.  The ambulance got here really quickly and Yahya did lose consciousness a little bit.  He was able to speak and was taken to Kings Hospital and should have known within 24 hours how well hopefully Yahya is.

Looking back at the game overall which finished 0-0, I think to be fair it probably wasn’t one that would live in the memory.

That’s right, I think Margate came to cancel us out and they did a good job. Defensively we looked very sound and it was good for Shaun to keep a clean sheet but it was only really the last ten-fifteen minutes that we put a few balls across the pitch without really causing them too many problems or getting shots on target.  That is unlike us as that is something we are usually very good at.  However, we really wanted to get it sorted at the back and that was a priority along with the clean sheet and we have something to build on. 

Let’s look ahead to our double header against two sides in the promotion race, Enfield Town and Hastings United. We are getting to that stage of the season now where we have played everyone at least once but we should go into the games without any inferiority complex.

The problem unfortunately I have had is that this season I have never been able to put the same team out week in week out.  Tom Bonner got sent off at Hashtag United so I couldn’t play him, now I have lost Yahya Bamba, Cookie has been in and out and there are so many variables at the moment but the boys that are coming in have been brilliant.

These will be two tough games and after playing them both earlier in the season I don’t think we did ourselves justice against both Enfield Town and Hastings United.  We do though now have a chance at home and the games run into each other quite quickly and hopefully we can get a win out of these matches. 

Finally on behalf of myself and the club and fans, a Happy New Year to yourself, Tim O’Shea, your matchday team and players and a healthy and prosperous 2024. I think overall it has been a very good 2023 for Cray Wanderers.

It’s been a fantastic year for us. I know we reached the Isthmian Premier playoffs for the first time and lost to Hornchurch on penalties and I think this season I have been trying to assemble a team once again starting from scratch with the exception of a couple of boys but unfortunately others have moved on. We know we are better than our position in the league which we can improve through hard work.  

I just want to thank the supporters, the Chairman, Directors as we are moving into a new ground and there is so much brightness to look forward to and I wish everyone a Happy New Year.  I will do my best to get this team back to winning ways and moving us up the league but we also have to thank the Board for getting us a ground now we can call our own and we will be playing games there in 2024.