Cray Wanderers are in midweek action for the last time this season on Wednesday as they take on Herne Bay in a Kent Derby. Kick off at Hayes Lane is 7.45.
The match pits two teams in contrasting form with Cray without a win in six whilst Herne Bay are unbeaten in six games as the season starts to wind down to its final few weeks.
Cray are eleventh in the table and are having no doubt their most difficult spell of the season with just one point gained out of the last eighteen. Four successive defeats have pushed the Wands ten points off the playoff places but hope to put a run together in the latter part of the season. The last two games against the two Casuals teams have seen Cray scoring six but unfortunately concede eight and luck seems to have deserted them at key points in the games. Going forward they have played very well at times and the Danny Haynes/Luke Medley partnership has looked a promising combination. Lea Dawson once again was in great form on Saturday and almost claimed his first Cray Wanderers hat-trick but for an effort which came back off a post late on. However, particularly at home they have often had to come from behind on too many occasions although a resilient side sometimes they have left too much to do.
As Walton Casuals Manager Anthony Gale stated after the game on Saturday, Cray are a good footballing side that plays the game the right way and we have many similar compliments throughout the season.
Coupled with suspensions, an injury to Leigh Bremner and Grant Basey’s retirement things haven’t been running smooth for Tony Russell’s men.
In what is a very strong Ryman South division, Cray are at least in a position of comfort in mid table and with 57 points not in any danger of going down whilst not mathematically impossible that they could reach the playoffs. They face South Park, Dorking Wanderers and Greenwich Borough all at home so will have a part to play in who finishes where in the league table.
Our opponents, Herne Bay’s form has been the opposite and after a difficult start to the New Year, they are unbeaten in their last six games since losing to Tooting & Mitcham on 4th February (two wins, four draws). Sam Denly’s team are 17th in the league table with 42 points from 36 games and are seventeen points off the relegation places. They come into the game on the back of a 6-0 win at home to East Grinstead Town on Saturday. Mark Lovell has been in a rich vein of form and is their leading scorer with seventeen league goals. Away from home, Herne Bay have won four games, most notably a 4-3 win at Dorking on 7th January and have also picked up wins at East Grinstead, Ramsgate and Three Bridges.
The two teams met as recently as 1st February at Winch’s Field and Cray came away with a 1-0 win through Luke Medley’s first goal for the Wands early in the second half.
Matches against Herne Bay used to be a regular occurrence back in the Kent League days we met for 26 straight seasons between 1977-78 and 2003-04. During that time Cray won two Kent League titles and Herne Bay four all during the 1990’s but progress up the league was denied as Winch’s Field at the time didn’t meet the requirements to go further. We had earlier met in the Aetolian league back in the early 60’s for five seasons. The overall record is P. 63 W. 28 D. 16 L. 19. The last time we played at Hayes Lane in league action came in November 2003 with Cray winning 2-1 in our Kent League winning season with Jamie Kempster scoring both goals.
Herne Bay have been members of the Ryman League since 2012-13 after they were Kent League Champions in 2011-12 and also reached the FA Vase Semi Final. They have steadily improved their league position each year in the four seasons in the Ryman South. After a first season of struggle when they finished one point and place above the relegation places, they then finished 18th the following season and then 9th and a respectable 8th place last season.
One thing you can never say about games at Hayes Lane they are seldom dull and there have been 77 goals scored in 17 league games. With not much else on the telly football wise it could be worth recommending family, friends and loved ones come and watch what should be a cracking Kent derby.
Admission costs £10.00 adults, £4.00 concessions/U16s.