The month of February begins for Cray Wanderers with the first of two successive Saturday afternoon games as in form Herne Bay are the visitors to Hayes Lane. Kick off at 3pm.
Cray after picking up a point at Faversham Town last Saturday moved eleven points clear at the top of the Bostik South-East following Herne Bay’s 4-1 win at home to Hastings United so despite their lowly league position, Herne Bay will be full of confidence of picking up another surprise result.
Although Cray couldn’t quite make it six wins on the bounce at Salters Lane, there was still plenty of positives in the performance against a determined side as Mitchell Nelson’s goal tied the game after a somewhat soft penalty award put Cray behind in the first half. In the second half, Bradley Pritchard hit the bar, Freddie Parker the post and was denied by a fine late save and other efforts cleared off the line so it wasn’t for the want of trying. Defensively Cray have been very sound so far in 2019 with only a couple of penalty kicks breaching the back line.
As we enter February this is the time of the season where you can start to work out the main contenders for promotion and challengers and there are plenty of good sides around the top of the Bostik South-East who feel they are with in with a chance. Cray at this stage of the season can certainly consider themselves serious contenders but with so many games (14) still to play against teams with a lot still to play for Cray just need to keep picking up points as they have done up till now.
Herne Bay moved up to 16th in the table after two goals apiece from Danny Leonard and Jake Embery, who has notched 17 league goals secured victory against Hastings United and made it four wins out of five. Away from home John Embery & Jermain Darlington’s side have picked up wins at Greenwich Borough (7-2), Ramsgate (5-4), Sittingbourne (3-2) and Whitstable Town (4-0). They picked up points at Faversham Town (1-1) and Hythe Town (2-2) and were beaten at Ashford United (1-4), Guernsey (1-2), Hastings United (0-5) and Horsham (0-1). It has probably been their home form which has gone against them this season with the Hastings win just their second in the league after beating Hythe Town (3-1) before Christmas with all other games ending in defeats including a 2-1 win for Cray on 20th October with second half goals from Ben Mundele and a Tom Phipp penalty putting the Wands on the way with Embery pulling a goal back from the spot before the end.
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 three Kent League titles and Herne Bay won four 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. 67 W. 31 D. 16 L. 20. When the two sides last met at Hayes Lane in September, 2017 Cray won 3-1 with a Michael Power hat-trick.
Herne Bay have been members of the Isthmian League since 2012-13 after they were Kent League Champions in 2011-12 and also reached the FA Vase Semi Final. After a first season of struggle they have acquitted themselves very well and have finished 18th, 9th, 8th, 17th and finished in a very creditable 12th place last season.
This has all the makings of a great game between two attack minded sides and although it is likely to be bitterly cold there should be plenty out on the pitch to keep you warm.
Admission is £10 adults, £5 concessions but don’t forget the Football For a Fiver offer for supporters of Premier League, EFL & National League clubs on presentation of valid season ticket.