Cray are in Wednesday night action at Hayes Lane for the first time this season tomorrow as Hythe Town are the visitors for a 7.45pm ko which promises to be an exciting match. This is the first league meeting between the sides since our Kent League days in 2004.
This will be the third Kent derby at Hayes Lane already this season and should be a game to savour as both sides are good going forward and are live contenders for the promotion playoff places come the end of the season.
The Wands got back to winning ways on Saturday at home to Three Bridges and despite a couple of late scares, Danny Haynes hat-trick, his first goals for the club helped them over the line.
Certainly Cray have been involved with some exciting games at Hayes Lane this season in a Ryman South campaign which has started with surprise teams at the top of the table. The Wands are ninth in the table after 7 games on 12 points but just a point behind fifth placed Greenwich Borough. Saturday’s game saw the welcome return in goal of Nick Blue and Sean Roberts gave an excellent display in midfield and were it not for Haynes hat-trick would have probably have been Cray’s man of the match. Despite injuries to the likes of Grant Basey, James Duckworth and on Saturday Karl Dent, the Wands are very much still in the mix with the early contenders.
Cray will definitely have to be at their best on Wednesday as Hythe are a very strong outfit who always seem to be around the top half of the table. Clive Cook’s side are currently eleventh in the table, one point behind Cray and come into the game on the back of a FA Cup defeat to Walton Casuals on Saturday. This though will have no bearing on the contest and Hythe have three former Cray players in their ranks, Nick Reeves, Chris Saunders and Dan Parkinson which adds to the occasion.
The Cannons have been established members of the Ryman South for the last four seasons and have twice reached the playoffs in that time. Long time Wands fans may remember plenty of games against Hythe Town or briefly as they were known Hythe United from our days in the Kent League. We met for ten seasons but the South Coast Kent club at one time had lofty ambitions and were well financed and were Kent League champions in 1988-89 elevating them to the Southern League. They did challenge there and reached the Semi Final of the FA Vase in 1990 but money issues surfaced and they withdrew from the league in 1992 and were re-established as Hythe United shortly after. A few seasons later they re-joined the Kent League reverting back to Hythe Town in 2000 and continued to play Cray until 2003-04 when the Wands were promoted as champions.
They themselves were promoted to the Ryman League for the first time in 2011-12 as Kent League Champions and also were the last Kent League side to reach the FA Cup 1st Round where they lost to then League Two Hereford United. Since then they have finished twice in the playoffs in 2013-14 where they lost to Faversham Town in the Semi Final. Last season they started the season quite poorly and flirted with relegation early on but made a tremendous late push up the table and ended up finishing fourth before losing to Worthing in the Semi Final.
The last meeting between the two sides took place on 26th April, 2004 with Cray winning 3-1 at Hayes Lane with two goals by Jamie Kempster and a Jamie Wood penalty. The overall record between the two side’s shows Hythe having the better of the series having played 40 times, Cray have won 14 with 6 draws and lost 20.
This has the feel of a special night at Hayes Lane under the lights and a key game between sides looking to keep up with the early league pacesetters. Admission costs are £10.00 adults, £4.00 concessions/U16s/Students on presentation of card.