The big games keep coming for Cray Wanderers in March as Saturday sees the Bostik South-East league leaders face Sussex opposition for the third weekend in a row and all against sides in the top 5 as Haywards Heath Town make the trip to Hayes Lane. This is the first time Cray Wanderers have faced Haywards Heath Town at home and should be another cracking game. Kick off at the Lane is 3pm.
Cray come into the game on the back of a rare league defeat this season after an exciting encounter at Hastings United ended in a 3-2 defeat at Pilot Field. Cray in no time at all went two nil up through poachers goals from Archie Johnson and Joe Taylor but Hastings hit back shortly after with a stunning 30 yard strike and eventually came back to win. There were still some positives from the game for Cray and certainly there was much to be proud of for the contribution made to a superb game of football and also for the 12 game unbeaten run prior to that which saw some outstanding football. Both teams went at it hammer and tongs over two great matches this season and honours were even with a win apiece. It shows how far Cray Wanderers have come in the last few seasons that a defeat at Hastings could be considered a surprise result but that shows the respect given from around the league for the club.
Things might be a bit tighter on Saturday and maybe chances will be at a premium. Cray are certainly creating the chances and could have five goals in the first half last Saturday and have added clever attacking player Jordan Clarke to the team since which adds to the attacking options available for Tony Russell.
Haywards Heath Town are making their debut in the Bostik League South this season and have had a great season so far, lying fifth on 55 points, three behind 2nd placed Horsham and have beaten Hastings and Horsham twice so will be respected. Last time out they picked up a fine 3-1 win at home to Whyteleafe after trailing at the break with two goals from top scorer Callum Saunders and an Andy Dalhouse strike sealed the win. They have added experienced Kenny Pogue from Sevenoaks Town to the club since then as well as defender Cameron Tutt.
Shaun Saunders side have a very good away record with nine wins on the road with only Cray and Ashford winning more. They picked up wins at Faversham Town (4-2), Greenwich Borough (4-1), Hastings United (4-2), Herne Bay (1-0), Horsham (5-4), Phoenix Sports (4-2), Sittingbourne (2-1), Three Bridges (4-3) and Whyteleafe (3-2). They drew at East Grinstead Town (3-3), Hythe Town (0-0), Sevenoaks Town (2-2) and Whitstable Town (0-0). They have only been beaten once on their travels at Guernsey (1-3).
The first ever meeting between the sides took place on November 3rd at Haywards Heath and was a tough, hard fought encounter with the home side reduced to ten men when Saunders was sent off midway through the second half and Ben Mundele broke through to score the winner with two minutes to go to register a 1-0 win. Home form has seen wins against Faversham Town (2-0), Hastings United (2-1), Herne Bay (2-1), Horsham (2-0), Sittingbourne (2-0), Three Bridges (2-0) and Whyteleafe (3-1). They drew with Ashford United, Greenwich Borough and Phoenix Sports and were beaten by Cray Wanderers, Guernsey, Hythe Town, Ramsgate and VCD Athletic.
Haywards Heath Town have been an upwardly mobile club in Sussex County football for a few seasons now, climbing up the Sussex County League and later Southern Combination and last season saw them win the title gaining promotion to the Bostik South-East. They had looked like being promoted in 2016-17 after winning the league but points deductions cost them the title to Shoreham but bounced back in the best way possible and are in with a shout of a second straight promotion.
This should be a fascinating match, perhaps a contrast of styles but one which will test Cray’s attempts at bouncebackability following last week against a tough side.
Cray Wanderers are also delighted to welcome our special guests for the day, the Cray Wanderers U10s, U10s Lions and from Essex, Thundersley Rovers U10s who will take part in a mini tournament and be the guard of honour for the two teams. We hope they enjoy their day and thank them for being with us.
Cray Wanderers U10s Cray Wanderers U10s Lions Thundersley Rovers
Admission is £10.00 adults, £5.00 concessions but in an international week why not take advantage of the Football For A Fiver offer for season ticket holders of Premier League, EFL and National League clubs this season on presentation of valid season ticket. There have been some cracking games at Hayes Lane this season and this promises to be another.