Cray Wanderers vs Kingstonian – Isthmian Premier, Saturday 15th April, 3 pm – Match Preview

Pics:  Ozay Booth

Cray Wanderers bring the curtain down on home games for the 2022-23 season with another crunch game as Kingstonian are the visitors to Hayes Lane in a match with implications at both ends of the Isthmian Premier table.

Neil Smith’s Wands side go into the game in 5th place, the final playoff position and unbeaten in seven matches which has seen the team in a rich vein of form. Cray Wanderers have 70 points from 40 games played and this is already a club record high points total for the Isthmian Premier.  One more win should guarantee another club record in the highest ever league place which is currently 9th in the Isthmian Premier in 2010-11 and 2011-12.  


This has proved to be the tightest title race in some time with the championship, two playoff places and two relegation places still to be decided going into the final two weeks of a season which seems to have flown by.  Bishop’s Stortford top the league on 82 points followed by Hornchurch on 78, Canvey Island 77 and Aveley on 74 are the top 4 with Cray vying with Lewes (68 points), Horsham (66) and Hastings United on 64 points to make up the playoff teams.

Cray were one of only two teams in the top 10 to win both matches over Easter (along with Bishop’s Stortford) and on Easter Monday won an exciting Kent derby with Herne Bay, 5-3.  A brace from Nyren Clunis in the first twenty minutes was added to by a Sam Wood goal just after the half hour.  Herne Bay have shown a lot of resilience in recent games and made it 3-2 early in the second half and but for a fine save from Shaun Rowley could have been all square but Jalen Jones restored the two goal advantage ten minutes from time.  Herne Bay scored another in the 87th minute but in added on time, substitute Rio Campbell scored his second goal in two sub appearances to calm any lingering nerves.  Cray visit Haringey Borough on the final day of the season who travel to Lewes on Saturday on what is sure to be another dramatic day.  It does have to be said that whatever happens in the next two Saturday’s it has been a remarkable turnaround for Cray Wanderers in the space of just one season to go from staving off relegation on the final day of the season to potentially an opportunity to perhaps reach the Isthmian Premier playoffs for the first time in the club’s history.

Kingstonian have plenty to play for too as Simon Lane’s side require a point to confirm safety from relegation and sit with 42 points with Bowers & Pitsea and Herne Bay on 36 points. It is probably down to their home form that the K’s have struggled with just one win in twelve games but away from home Kingstonian have won five since the start of 2023 and four of the last six. On Monday Kingstonian won 2-0 at Corinthian Casuals to give them a bit of wriggle room with a goal in each half from Ibrahim Bangura and Tom Collins.  Kingstonian finish the season with a home game against Hornchurch. Simon Lane took over as manager in February after the departure of Spencer Knight and has done well in a couple of months to keep Kingstonian out of the bottom four. 

When the two sides met at Imperial Fields on December 3rd, the Wands won 1-0 with an early Sam Wood header.  The last meeting at Hayes Lane was on 26th March, 2022 in what was Neil Smith’s first game in charge with Kingstonian winning 2-1 after Anthony Cook gave Cray the lead goals from Daniel Ajakaiye and Walter Figueira won the game for the K’s.

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

With this being the last home game of the season and so much riding on it this should produce a bumper crowd as Cray seek a bit of history and look to set up another dramatic day on the last day of the season.

Admission £12/£6, half price admission for Bromley, Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace & Millwall season ticket holders. £2 printed programme, Golden Goals, £1, player of the year presentation at the end of the game.