Cray Wanderers busy run of games in November and December continues on Wednesday night with what should be a great game under the lights at Hayes Lane as Folkestone Invicta are the visitors. Kick off 7.45pm.
Both teams come into the game on the back of defeats on Saturday and looking for points at both ends of the table. Cray were rather unfortunate to lose at Kingstonian at the weekend and were only beaten with an excellent strike late in the game. The performance was one which gave encouragement for the games ahead and there was a solidity and confidence in the side against a very good team which augurs well that wins may not be far away for Danny Kedwell’s side.
There were some fine performances especially from Freddy Barton, Tom Hanfrey, Daniel Uchechi, Chris Dickson and Anthony Cook amongst others who put Cray on level terms in the second half and can be encouraged with the amount of chances created on the day. Cray have recently added to the squad for the upcoming games with the loan signing of Bromley midfielder Sam Skeffington.
The Wands do need points though after dropping into the bottom three after the weekend but the important thing with such a tough run including games against three of the top 5 is to remain positive and Cray who do have games in hand to play can start to pull away during this busy time of year.
It will be a tough game against Neil Cugley’s talented Invicta side who are 5th in the table level on points and goal difference with Bishop’s Stortford but have a game in hand. Folkestone will be looking to bounce back from a 0-3 defeat at 3rd placed Lewes on Saturday but generally form has been consistent since the start of the season.
Their away form has seen wins at Corinthian Casuals (1-0), Merstham (2-0), Bognor Regis Town (4-2) and Wingate & Finchley (4-1). They drew at East Thurrock United (1-1) and Cheshunt (0-0) with the only defeats at Carshalton Athletic (0-5) and Lewes (0-3). Home form has been excellent with wins against Worthing (3-1), Horsham (2-1), Brightlingsea (5-1) & Kingstonian (5-1). Folkestone drew at home to Enfield and Hornchurch. Folkestone also had an excellent run in the FA Cup to the 4QR with wins against Corinthian, Ashford Town (Middx), Gloucester and were unlucky to bow out to Eastleigh after a replay. In the FA Trophy, Folkestone beat Hendon and Faversham at home and are away to Hartley Wintney in the 2nd Round. Top scorer so far is David Smith with 12 but goals have been liberally shared around.
Matches between the Wands and Invicta over the last ten years have been few and far between with the last home game on 17th August 2019 which Folkestone won 3-2 with an injury time winner. The teams were due to meet before the end of the 2019-20 season but never got the chance through the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The teams did meet in one of the few games of last season at Folkestone which Cray won 3-1 on 29th September 2020.
Andre Coker takes on the Folkestone Invicta defence in the last league game between the sides at Hayes Lane in August 2019.
Folkestone Invicta were formed in 1936 and after the demise of the original Folkestone club which used to play in the Southern League in 1990, Invicta moved in to the Cheriton Road ground and started their rise from the 2nd division of the Kent League in 1991-92 to the Kent League Premier where they met Cray Wanderers for the first time. We played until the 1997-98 season, the first under the management of Neil Cugley who arrived from Ashford Town in the summer of 1997 and finished runners-up behind Herne Bay to clinch promotion to the Southern League. They did extremely well in the Southern League and gained promotion from the East Division to the Premier and in 2001-02 briefly topped the league. They were relegated back to the East Division in 2002-03 but earned promotion straight away.
They were moved to the Isthmian League for 2004-05 to the Premier Division where they stayed for four seasons reaching the 1st Round of the FA Cup in 2005-06 losing to Chester City. They were relegated in 2007-08 and met up once again with Cray Wanderers in the South Division for 2008-09 where Cray gained promotion. In 2009-10 Folkestone were promoted back to the Premier after beating Godalming Town in the playoff final. With a very young team they were relegated straight away in 2010-11 and for the next four seasons were playoff contenders in the South, twice getting to the semi-finals in 2011-12 & 2012-13. Then in 2013-14 beat Hastings United in the Semi-Finals before losing at home to Leatherhead on penalties in the final after a 1-1 draw. In 2014-15 they returned to the playoff final but were beaten 0-3 by Merstham. The following season there were no such dramas as they won the South title by 24 points to go up in some style.
In 2016-17 they survived relegation from the Premier on the last day of the season but since have been near the top and in 2017-18 they made it to the Playoff Semi-Final losing to Hendon. They were 4th two places behind Cray Wanderers when the 2019-20 season ended early and last season were 10th when the season was curtailed.
Games under the lights at Hayes Lane are always great games with the autumnal chill in the air adding to the atmosphere and this should be no exception. Tickets can be purchased online at via the ticketing page or pay at the gate, £10.00/£5.00 admission.