Cray Wanderers vs Hastings United – Isthmian Premier, Wednesday 21st September, 7.45 pm – Match Preview

Pics: Jon Hilliger –

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 18: Cray Wanderers players observe a minutes silence for Queen Elizabeth II before The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Bowers & Pitsea at Hayes Lane on September 18, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

Cray Wanderers play their second home game in three days on Wednesday 21st September as the Wands play host to Hastings United.  Kick off: 7.45 pm

The match pits the only two official Isthmian South-East Champions to date with Cray Wanderers in 2018-19 and Hastings United in 2021-22 with two incomplete seasons in between.

Cray come into the match in 6th place after Tuesday night’s games, six unbeaten in the league and had to come from 1-3 down at home to Bowers & Pitsea on Sunday to claim a 3-3 draw and move on to 12 points after seven matches.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 18: XXX during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Bowers & Pitsea at Hayes Lane on September 18, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

Dan Bassett notched his fourth goal of the season and made it three in the last three league matches.  Anthony Cook has made a big impact off the bench in the last couple of games and got Cray back into the match with a penalty and his first goal of the season.   With twenty minutes to go Billy Crook’s header made it 3-3 but despite the remaining time neither team could find a winner.

BROMLEY, GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 29: Cray Wanderers’s Tom Derry kisses goal scorer, Cray Wanderers’s Daniel Bassett on the cheek as Cray Wanderers’s captain, Anthony Cook, congratulates him during The Pitching In Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Margate at Hayes Lane on August 29, 2022 in Bromley, Greater London, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

The Wands have had to show plenty of resilience in the last few games having been behind at Bishop’s Stortford, Folkestone Invicta twice and against Bowers & Pitsea and still a relatively new team are gelling well.  Neil Smith will hope to have Mitch Chapman available after suspension and Ben Krauhaus as his loan move from Bromley is extended but there was an impressive debut from David Ijaha, who played the full 90 minutes despite not having much game time recently and looked the part and adds to the team’s competition for places.

Hastings United are making their return to the Isthmian Premier this season after winning the South-East title by 13 points in 2021-22 and are a well supported and ambitious club.

Hastings United are managed by former Brighton & HA, St. Albans City, Eastbourne Borough, Tonbridge Angels, Worthing and Hastings player Gary Elphick and are 14th in the early league table with 8 points.

They’ve yet to score a goal on their travels but did pick up a point at Folkestone Invicta and Lewes with goalless draws in August. Their only other away game was a 0-3 defeat at Hornchurch. At home, they began with a 1-2 defeat to Aveley but since have beaten Brightlingsea Regent (4-1) and Kingtonian (1-0) last Tuesday with a Joe Ebode goal, his third of the season. Like Cray, Hastings exited the FA Cup at the 1st Qualifying Round stage after a defeat at Cray Valley PM.

Cray and Hastings met for the first time in the Isthmian League years from 2004-05 – 06-07 and again in the Isthmian Premier for four seasons. We were reunited with the Us in 2016-17 and 17-18  in the Isthmian South and then in the 2018-19 seasons.  The last meeting at Hayes Lane was on 11th November 2018 when Cray won 2-1 with goals from Wilberforce Ocran and Tom Phipp. Hastings won the corresponding fixture 3-2 at Pilot Field on 16th March, 2019 with Joe Taylor and Archie Johnson scoring.

Wilberforce Ocran scores on his Wands loan debut from Charlton Athletic vs Hastings United, 11th November 2018 in a 2-1 Cray Wanderers victory – Pic: Jon Hilliger

Hastings United can trace their existence back to 1894 but it wasn’t until the mid 80’s when they were known as Hastings Town that they emerged from the Sussex League to join the Southern League and were promoted to the Southern League Premier in 1991-92 where they spent six seasons. After some seasons of struggle they moved to the Ryman league following non league restructuring and met the Wands for the first time in competition during the 2005-06 season, Ryman Division One season. The following season, Hastings came fourth and reached the playoffs and were promoted the hard way, winning both ties away from home against Dover Athletic and Tooting & Mitcham United to gain promotion to the Ryman Premier. The Wands would catch up with them and meet again for three seasons from 2009-10. Hastings had a strange season in 2012-13 where they were relegated from the Ryman Premier but managed to reach the 3rd Round of the FA Cup where they lost to Championship Middlesbrough at the Riverside. Since then they reached the Isthmian South playoffs in 2013-14 where they lost to Folkestone Invicta, but in 2014-15 they came close to relegation and only survived on the final day of the season. Hastings had some good battles with Cray when the Wands moved to the South from the North for three seasons and finished 5th in the 2016-17 season losing to Dorking Wanderers in the playoffs. In the inaugural Isthmian South-East 2018-19 season won by Cray Wanderers, Hastings finished 3rd but were beaten by Ashford United in the playoff semi-final at Pilot Field. They were then unfortunate as top of the Isthmian South-East by three points when the 2019-20 season was stopped and top after 7 games in 2020-21 so no-one could really begrudge Hastings United’s promotion last season and are more than worthy addition to the Isthmian Premier this season.

This should be a great evening under the lights at the Lane in the Wands final home league game of September.   Admission £12 adults, £6 concessions, pay on gate (cash only) or online at Match Programme available £2/Golden Goal tickets £1