Cray Wanderers vs Hornchurch, Isthmian Premier – Saturday 25th February, 3 pm – Match Preview

Pics:  Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers complete February’s fixtures on Saturday 25th February with a mouthwatering clash with Hornchurch at Hayes Lane.  Kick off 3pm.

The Wands come into the match perhaps in their first little blip of form for a while in 7th place after two games without a win or goal but still in a decent position three points outside the playoff places on 51 points.  Hornchurch meanwhile are in good form with five games without defeat and sit 3rd in the Isthmian Premier table on 59 points and three behind leaders Bishop’s Stortford with a game in hand.

Cray will be looking to bounce back from last Saturday’s narrow defeat at Hastings United and can take comfort from their performance at Hornchurch on 24th September where a brace from top scorer Sam Higgins with the winner coming five minutes from time after Dan Bassett had levelled for Cray.  

Defensively, Cray have been very sound with Jephte Tanga outstanding in the last few games after returning from injury and with Bailey Akehurst down the left and Jalen Jones and Freddie Carter who made his debut against Hornchurch in September have been very solid.  Shaun Rowley has also been very sound with ten clean sheets this season.

Going forward Cray are still in the top five scoring teams in the division with 54 in 32 games played with Dan Bassett leading scorer on 12 with Tom Derry just behind on 10.  The Wands will need to find their scoring touch once again with ten games still to go but overall can be very pleased with the season to date and definitely a marked improvement from last season when Hornchurch visited Hayes Lane where Neil Smith’s side were deep in a relegation scrap.

Mark Stimson’s Hornchurch side moved  up to 3rd on Tuesday night after a 1-0 win at home to Bognor Regis Town courtesy of Sam Higgins first half penalty.  They are the top scorers in the league on 69 goals and after back to back home league defeats to Canvey Island and Aveley in January have started to hit good form once again.

Away from home Hornchurch have won at Herne Bay (6-0), Margate (3-1), Billericay Town (3-0), Potters Bar Town (5-2), Bowers & Pitsea (2-0), Hastings United (3-0) and Folkestone Invicta (2-1). The Urchins drew with Lewes (2-2), Brightlingsea Regent (1-1) and Corinthian Casuals (2-2) and were beaten at Bognor Regis Town (0-1), Canvey Island (1-2), Aveley (0-1) and Bishop’s Stortford (4-1).   At home Hornchurch have beaten Enfield Town (3-2), Hastings United (3-0), Bishop’s Stortford (2-1), Corinthian Casuals (5-0), Cray Wanderers (2-1), Horsham (3-1), Wingate & FInchley (2-0), Folkestone Invicta (2-1), Potters Bar Town (5-0) and Herne Bay (5-1). They drew with Haringey Borough and Carshalton Athletic and were beaten by Canvey Island and Aveley. 

Hornchurch had a good run in the FA Cup reaching the 4th Qualifying Round after beating Ipswich Wanderers, Maldon & Tiptree and Braintree Town before losing at home to Oxford City. In the FA Trophy, the 2020-21 winners were beaten by Harlow Town on penalties in the 3rd Qualifying Round. Hornchurch are through to the Semi-Finals of the Essex Senior Cup and will be away to the winners of the Canvey Island vs Grays tie.  Higgins is the leading scorer with 28 in league and cups.

The Wands will be looking for their first home win against Hornchurch since a 1-0 win in February 2010 with a Colin Luckett penalty and last season were beaten 0-5 with goals from Ola Ogunwamide, Liam Nash, Ellis Brown, Charlie Ruff and Tobi Joseph. 

This should be one of the games of the day in the Isthmian Premier and Cray Wanderers will be honouring their youth teams in a special day for the boys and girls and coaches to be involved in such a big match.

Admission £12, £6, £2 match programme, £1 golden goal ticket.