Cray Wanderers cap off a busy week with a second home match in three days on Saturday as Lewes are the visitors to Hayes Lane. Ko is 3pm.

Although both sides are at opposite ends of the league table this is always a competitive fixture and Saturday should be no different. Cray begin the game in 6th place level on 42 points with Carshalton Athletic and Hornchurch. Lewes are 17th with 25 points from 22 games but have a 10 point buffer between them and the bottom four.

Cray will be looking to build on the momentum of an unbeaten start to 2020 and Tony Russell who celebrates 200 Isthmian League games in charge of the Wands was delighted with the 1-1 draw with a strong Hornchurch side on Wednesday night.  Despite being without the three Tom’s Phipp, Murphy and Carlse for the visit of the Urchins, Cray played well and in an open, attractive match saw good performances throughout the side from Lewis Carey in goal, to the defence who did well to hold off Hornchurch, Ben Mundele who scored with a bullet strike to earn a point and Barney Williams had excellent games and a fine performance from the midfield with Bradley Pritchard, Lee Lewis and Charlie Allen in great form. Rhys Murrell-Williams showed real glimpses of quality and Joe Taylor up against a rugged defence was winning a lot of battles before the end.  Aaron Rhule has returned to the club after a brief spell at Chatham Town and made a lively cameo appearance in the latter stages of the game.  Both sides has good spells in the game and a draw was in the end a fair outcome.

So Cray come into the game in good heart but will take the challenge of Lewes very seriously as they boast a decent away record.  Since the two sides met at the Dripping Pan in October, the Rooks have come under new management with the co-managerial duo of Ross Standen and Tony Coade taking over from Darren Freeman in October.  Their most recent game saw a 0-1 defeat at home to Carshalton Athletic last Saturday.

Lewes’ away form has seen them win at Leatherhead (4-1), Brightlingea Regent (3-2), Cheshunt (2-0), Bishop’s Stortford (2-0), Merstham (4-2) and Haringey Borough (1-0). They drew at Carshalton (1-1) and were beaten at Worthing (1-3), Margate (0-2), East Thurrock United (0-1), Kingstonian (1-3) and Horsham (0-3.  Unusually for Lewes their home form has been patchy beating Corinthian Casuals (1-0) and drawing with Enfield Town, Potters Bar Town and Folkestone Invicta while losing to Bowers & Pitsea, Horsham, Cray Wanderers, Wingate & Finchley and Carshalton.  Top scorer is Golding with 9 in league and cup.

When the two sides played at Lewes, Cray managed to end something of a hoodoo against the Rooks with a 3-2 win after a Dayshonne Golding put Lewes in front, a Van Bastenesque effort from Taylor and a Mitchell Nelson strike put Cray 2-1 up at the interval. An Andre Coker goal made it 3-1 shortly after half-time before a late consolation from Stefan Ilic made it 3-2. This was the first ever league win for Cray against Lewes.

Overall the clubs have met 11 times in the league with Cray winning one, Lewes eight and two draws.  The last time the sides played at Hayes Lane was almost exactly two years ago in January 2018 when and two goals in the first ten minutes set Lewes on the way to a 2-1 win with goals from Omarr Lawson and a Jamie Brotherton penalty. Cray pulled a goal back through Ben Mundele but the game finished in a 2-1 Lewes victory.  Cray’s only ever home win against Lewes was back in the FA Amateur Cup in November 1968 when Cray won 5-2 at Grassmeade in a replay following a 1-1 draw.

Lewes were founded in 1885 and were members of the Sussex County League from the 1920’s winning the title in 1964-65 and were moved to Division Two of the Athenian League. They were promoted in 1967-68 and two seasons later were promoted to the Premier Division.  In 1977 they transferred to Division Two of the Isthmian League earning promotion in 1979-80. They had a meteoric rise following relegation to Division Three in 1993-94 where they stayed until promotion in 2000-01. The following season they won Division Two and also reached the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the first time where they were beaten by Stoke City.  In 2003-04 they won promotion from the Isthmian Division One South and after league restructuring following a series of playoff victories were elevated to the Conference South and finished fourth in their first season.  After a couple more FA Cup 1st Round appearances in 2007-08 Lewes were promoted to the Conference where they remained for one season.  In 2010-11 they were relegated back to the Isthmian League where they met Cray Wanderers in League competition for the first time. They were relegated to the South in 2015-16 before consolidating and then achieving promotion behind Carshalton Athletic to the Premier in 2017-18. Last season in a respectable 11th place back in the Premier.

Since 2010 the club have been fan owned and also have an equality system with a flourishing women’s team on equal pay with the men’s team.  They are a well supported club in an area with many clubs and certainly have lived through some good times and bad times but always will be well backed.

This is always a tough fixture but should be an entertaining one and not to be missed. Admission costs are £10.00 adults, £5.00 concs/U16s but there is the Football For A Fiver offer for supporters of Premier League/EFL/National League clubs on presentation of a valid ticket. Games at Hayes Lane are a bit special and this should be no different.