Cray Wanderers are back at Hayes Lane on Saturday for the first time in a month and what a game to return to as the Bostik South-East league leaders take on 2nd placed Horsham in a what should be a great contest.
Cray are unbeaten in 11 matches since their only league defeat this season which came against Horsham on 15th December. Since then, Cray have moved 13 points clear of the Hornets but they themselves are unbeaten in seven and perhaps over the season have been the two most consistent teams in the league.
The Wands started a busy March with a 1-0 win at Phoenix Sports last Saturday as Karl Dent’s 32nd minute strike, his first of the season was enough to pick up their 11th win out of 14 on the road and another clean sheet for the meanest defence in the league. Dent was in great form at Phoenix with his passing and came close to scoring on another couple of occasions and is playing with great confidence right now. Defensively once again Cray were strong and Nick Blue made a couple of fine saves when called upon but generally it was a very professional performance.
Although Cray have a 13 points lead at the top and being nine games to go there is no talk around the club of anything being won yet which is a very sensible approach, that it is one game at a time and there is an unquenchable team spirit which instils great self-belief.
Horsham though will prove a tough obstacle and are 2nd on merit and are the only side to beat Cray in the league this season after a 4-2 win at Lancing on 15th December. On that very wet afternoon, Rob O’Toole scored a hat-trick for Horsham along with a Charlie Harris strike after Cray twice drew level through Ben Mundele and Archie Johnson.
Horsham come into the game on the back of a 2-1 home win against Hythe Town on Saturday with first half goals from Lee Harding and George Hayward clinching the win putting the Hornets on 55 points having played one game more than Cray.
Dominic D Paola’s team have a good away record with wins at Ashford United (3-2), Faversham Town (2-0), Hythe Town (4-2), Sevenoaks Town (2-1), VCD Athletic (3-1) and Whitstable Town (3-0). They drew at East Grinstead Town and Ramsgate and their only defeats came at Hastings United (0-2), Haywards Heath Town (0-2), Phoenix Sports (0-1), Three Bridges (1-2) and Whyteleafe (1-3). At home Horsham beat Cray Wanderers, East Grinstead Town, Greenwich Borough, Herne Bay, Hythe, Phoenix Sports, Ramsgate, Three Bridges, VCD Athletic, Whitstable Town and Whyteleafe, drew with Guernsey and Hastings and their only losses came against Haywards Heath Town and Sittingbourne. They also had good runs in the FA Cup and FA Trophy reaching the 3rd Qualifying Round in each so have played a lot of football this season.
When the two sides last met at Hayes Lane it was amidst last March’s Beast from the East blast on 18th March, 2018 and Cray came out 4-3 winners with two goals from Charlie MacDonald and strikes from Karl Dent and Junior Dadson with Horsham’s goals coming from Bailee Rogers, George Landais and Lewis Hyde.
Of course both sides share a desire to return home and Horsham are well on the way to doing so as their planned new ground, at Hop Oast is beginning to take shape and looks hopefully for the Hornets like they could be playing there next season. Cray of course will have to wait just that bit longer for the new stadium at Flamingo Park but the crucial thing is that preparations can now begin and the dreams can now become a reality.
This should be a great match and one to really savour. Admission prices are £10.00 adults, £5.00 concessions but we also have the Football For A Fiver Offer for season ticket holders of Premier League, EFL & National League clubs on presentation of valid ticket which is a great incentive for those that love their football on a Saturday and maybe might be missing out this weekend.