Cray Wanderers vs Folkestone Invicta – Isthmian Premier, Wednesday 15th February, 7.45 pm – Match Preview

Pics:  Ozay Booth/Jon Hilliger

Cray Wanderers play the second of back to back home games on Wednesday 15th February in Kent derby action as Folkestone Invicta are the visitors to Hayes Lane.  Kick off 7.45 pm.

This will be the last scheduled midweek fixture of the season and part of a full Isthmian Premier League programme in Valentine’s Day week.

Both sides come into the game on the back of wins on Saturday.  Cray Wanderers moved back into the playoff places after a come from behind victory against Carshalton Athletic onto 50 points but moved back down to 6th following Tuesday night’s results but it was a morale boosting win bouncing back from the loss at Wingate & Finchley and Carshalton have won since against in-form Bognor Regis on Monday night so was a very positive result.

Carshalton took the lead early but not for the first time this season Cray bounced back from adversity and two goals in nine minutes turned the game on its head.  Dan Bassett had an impressive game and notched his 12th goal of the season firing home from the edge of the area to make it 1-1.  In the 35th minute Cray went ahead when Tom Derry notched his 10th goal of the campaign slotting in from Yahaya Bamba’s cross.

Neil Smith’s side had to show resolution in the second half and although Derry was denied a third goal by a fine save, Carshalton pressed and some stoic defending from Jalen Jones and especially Freddie Carter and a couple of instinctive saves from Shaun Rowley helped preserve the three points.

Folkestone Invicta travel to Hayes Lane in 12th place on 42 points buoyed by an impressive 3-1 win at playoff contenders Horsham on Saturday. Like the Wands, Invicta fell behind to a Harvey Sparks goal for the Hornets but came back to win through goals from Ira Jackson, Scott Heard and Ibrahim Olutade.  The win just arrested a three game league losing run for Folkestone so will arrive with confidence in what is a customary midweek fixture under the lights against the Wands.

There is a new era at Folkestone Invicta since our last visit in September as manager and Kent football legend Neil Cugley stepped down in late October after 26 years in charge and over 1300 games as boss down at Cheriton Road.  The dual management team of Michael Everitt and Roland Edge took over the managerial reigns and home form has generally been very good and are perhaps just on the fringes of the playoffs at this stage but definitely a side which if it can put a run together could have a major say in the last three months of the season. Folkestone started the season well unbeaten in the first five games but then had a run of just two wins in eleven league games to fall to mid table.  Invicta did however have two very solid cup runs reaching the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and 3rd Round of the FA Trophy.

The sides met at Cheriton Road on 13th September and Cray were impressive 4-2 winners. Twice Folkestone led through two Ade Yusuff strikes including a penalty but goals from Tom Derry, Sinn’kaye Christie, Sam Wood and Dan Bassett rounded off a fine night and performance from the Wands.  Last season’s encounter at Hayes Lane ended in a 2-2 on 24th November, 2021 with Anthony Cook and Jai Reason scoring for Cray and Jordan Wright and Callum Davies for Folkestone in stoppage time.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 24: Cray Wanderers’s Anthony Cook scores his team’s first goal to make the score 1-1 during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Folkestone Invicta at Hayes Lane on November 24, 2021 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

Away from home Folkestone have won at Billericay Town (3-2), Corinthian Casuals (4-0), Herne Bay (2-1), Wingate & Finchley (2-0) and Horsham (3-1). Invicta drew at Enfield Town (1-1) and were beaten at Bishop’s Stortford (0-3), Kingstonian (0-2), Carshalton Athletic (0-1), Haringey Borough (0-3), Lewes (2-3), Margate (0-1), Canvey Island (0-3), Hornchurch (1-2), Brightlingsea Regent (2-3) and Hastings United (1-2).  At home Invicta beat Wingate & Finchley (2-1), Herne Bay (2-1), Brightlingsea Regent (3-1), Horsham (3-0), Bowers & Pitsea (4-1), Bognor Regis Town (4-1), Margate (4-0) and Haringey Borough (2-1). Folkestone drew with Hastings United and Billericay Town and were beaten by Cray Wanderers, Potters Bar Town, Aveley and Hornchurch.

In the FA Cup Invicta advanced past North Greenford United, Chichester City and Dulwich Hamlet before going out at Merthyr Town in the 4th Qualifying Round.  In the FA Trophy they beat Whitehawk, Horsham and Beaconsfield Town before going out at home to Leiston in the 3rd Round on penalties.  Top scorer Ade Yusuff with 25 goals has recently left the club to join Hornchurch so Ibrahim Olutade with 12 goals is the current leading scorer for Folkestone.

This promises to be a dramatic evening with lots at stake for both sides and a nostalgic night for the Wands with long time former player and manager Ian Jenkins celebrating 30 years since his Cray Wanderers debut and later 20 years association with the club.

Admission £12 adults, £6 concessions, U16s, Students, Programme £2, Golden Goal tickets £1