The curtain is brought down on Bostik South football for 2017 on Saturday as Cray Wanderers look to extend their 17 game unbeaten run against Faversham Town at Hayes Lane. Kick off is 3pm. Games against Faversham are always tight affairs and this promises to be no different.
Cray come into the game on the back of Boxing Day’s 7-0 home win against Shoreham. A devastating display of attacking football saw the Wands go 3-0 up at the break despite losing Michael Power to an early injury through well crafted goals by Michael Freiter, Aaron Rhule and Freddie Parker. In the second half early goals from Rhule and Parker gave Cray even more comfort and added two more goals in the last seven minutes through the returning Karl Dent and skipper Lea Dawson. Cray also hit the woodwork four times so certainly put in a fine attacking performance.
The defence also had another shut out making it 12 clean sheets this season and also improved the goal difference to +41. This makes Cray Wanderers the leading scorers in the Bostik South (57) and also have conceded the least (16) in 24 games.
I would hint though not to get carried away. Wands fans may remember beating Horsham 8-0 in the FA Trophy on the Saturday but then drew 0-0 at Faversham a couple of days later. That game on 10th October was as difficult an away game as any Cray have faced against a resolute and determined Lilywhites side and although Cray had some chances second half a 0-0 draw was a just result on the night.
Another big factor has been the 3G surface at Hayes Lane which has copped a fair amount of rain in the last few days. Certainly in the past games like Boxing Day’s and even this one would have been in serious doubt on the grass pitch following the wet weather.
Faversham come into the game on the back of two defeats over the festive season including a 3-1 defeat at Herne Bay on Boxing Day with Ashley Miller’s goal coming right at the end of the game. Despite a slow start to the season where they won 2 of their opening 10 games following the draw with Cray results starting to improve and they sit 18th in the league table with 29 points and very well safe from relegation.
Ray Turner’s side have won four matches on their travels this season, against VCD Athletic (5-0) on the opening day of the season, Phoenix Sports (1-0), Sittingbourne (2-1) and Thamesmead Town (3-2). They picked up points at Chipstead, Whyteleafe and Shoreham and were beaten at Walton Casuals (3-4), Carshalton Athletic (1-2), Hythe Town (0-3), Ramsgate (2-3), Hastings United (0-1) and Herne Bay (1-3). At home they picked up 3 points against Sittingbourne (1-0), VCD Athletic (3-1), East Grinstead Town (3-1) and South Park (2-1) and drew with Cray Wanderers and Greenwich Borough. They lost at home to Ramsgate, Herne Bay, Corinthian Casuals, Guernsey, Horsham, Hythe Town and Walton Casuals. Leading league scorer is Luke Griffiths with 10 goals.
In Cup competitions they reached the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup after beating Croydon in a replay (2-1) and impressively beat Tonbridge Angels (3-1) at home before losing 0-4 at National South Wealdstone. In the FA Trophy they were beaten at Waltham Abbey in the Preliminary Round. In the Isthmian League Cup were beaten at home by Hythe Town and in the Kent Senior Cup lost at home to Sittingbourne.
Faversham were promoted to the Isthmian League as champions of the Kent League in 2010-11. Since then they have been one of the most consistent teams in the league. In 2012-13 they had a great season finishing third and reached the playoff final where they lost to Maidstone United. In 2014-15 they had another great season again finishing third, scoring 111 goals but were beaten by Merstham on penalties in the playoff semi-final. They reached the playoff final in 2015-16 after finishing fifth but after beating Dorking Wanderers in the semi-final they were beaten 3-0 by Worthing in the final. They also reached the final of the Ryman League Cup where they lost to Kingstonian. Last season wasn’t quite as dramatic but finished in a respectable tenth place on 74 points.
Cray and Faversham have met many times over the years in the old Kent League, Aetolian, Greater London and Metropolitan Leagues and the reformed Kent League where we met for fifteen straight seasons. The overall record is P: 84 W: 36 D: 19 L.: 29. Last season at Hayes Lane we met in August 2016 and Cray won 1-0 with Anthony Adesite claiming the goal from close range.
With 2017 coming to an end perhaps best to wait until after the game to really look at the progress made but at the same time remembering we are only half way through the season and there is a whole new chapter for the season to be written over the next four months.
Admission prices are £10.00 adults, £5.00 Concessions/U16s/Students on presentation of card.
For those that can’t make the game have a Very Happy New Year.