Cray Wanderers vs Lewes – Isthmian Premier, Saturday 28th January, 3 pm- Match Preview

Pics:  Ozay Booth/Jon Hilliger

Cray Wanderers continue their promotion push on Saturday as Lewes are the visitors to Hayes Lane to bring the Wands January fixtures to a close.  Kick off 3 pm

Cray come into the game in 2nd place in the Isthmian Premier level on 46 points with leaders Hornchurch albeit having played four games more after a run of just one defeat in the last 11 league games. 

Last Saturday saw a resilient performance from Neil Smith’s side to win at Aveley courtesy of Tom Derry’s first half goal, the Wands 50th league goal of the season and a disciplined defensive display.  Aveley went here to beat Hastings United on Tuesday night which shows what a tough game that was to get a positive result.

There were many positives on the day but especially the back four with Jalen Jones and Matt Weaire in the middle outstanding and the return from injury of Jephte Tanga was a boost not only to the defence but in getting forward too.  Anthony Cook added valuable experience when he came on during the first half and Derry who scored his 8th goal of the season worked hard up front along with Dan Bassett and Dajon Golding.  Shaun Rowley also kept his ninth clean sheet of the season, the eighth in the league and made a couple of excellent saves to preserve the win.  One of those clean sheets came against Lewes on 12th November after a lively goalless draw with Cray one of only two sides to prevent Lewes scoring at the Dripping Pan and with ten men for the last twenty five minutes.

Cray have faced three physical challenges in the last few weeks against Canvey Island, Bishop’s Stortford and Aveley and have come out of those with their league position still intact. Saturday’s game promises to be one perhaps a bit more easier on the eye and a good game to watch.

The Isthmian Premier this season is as open a league for many years with just nine points separating Hornchurch at the top to Horsham in 13th place and as February nears there is going to be a lot of jockeying for position and all points gained invaluable.

Lewes, although in 11th place on 38 points, are still very much in playoff contention with games in hand and are the only side yet to lose at home in the league. Tony Russell’s side had the chance to close the gap on Tuesday night but were beaten 2-1 in a tight game at Carshalton Athletic with two Tom Beere goals for the Robins with the evergreen Joe Taylor scoring his 23rd goal of the season for the Rooks.  That was Lewes first defeat of 2023 after starting with three straight wins including an impressive 3-0 win at Bishop’s Stortford which completed a league double over the Blues.

Away form has seen wins at Enfield Town (4-2), Haringey Borough (2-1), Kingstonian (3-1) and Bishop’s Stortford (3-0). Lewes drew at Wingate & Finchley (1-1), Corinthian Casuals (1-1) and Brightlingsea Regent (2-2) and were beaten at Horsham (0-2), Billericay Town (1-2), Herne Bay (1-4), Potters Bar Town (3-4), Hastings United (1-2) and Carshalton Athletic (1-2).  At home Lewes have beaten Carshalton Athletic (2-0), Bishop’s Stortford (2-1), Margate (2-0), Folkestone Invicta (3-2), Bognor Regis Town (3-1) and Corinthian Casuals (2-0) and drawn with Hastings United, Hornchurch, Aveley, Cray Wanderers and Bowers & Pitsea.  In the FA Cup, Lewes were beaten at Three Bridges in the 2nd Qualifying Round after a replay and in the FA Trophy beat Sevenoaks Town and Chesham before being beaten by Bognor Regis Town at home on penalties in the 2nd Round after a 2-2 draw.

The last time the two sides met at Hayes Lane was on the opening day of the 2021-22 season with Cray winning 3-1 with two goals from Anthony Cook and a Jamie Yila strike with Ollie Tanner scoring for Lewes.  

BROMLEY, ENGLAND – August 14: Cray Wanderers’s captain, Anthony Cook, scores his sides second goal of the match during the Isthmian Premier League match between Cray Wanderers and Lewes at Hayes Lane on August 14, 2021 in Bromley, England . (Photo: © Jon Hilliger / HilligerPix)

It is still way too early to overplay the importance of this match as still so many games to go but this has been a match looked forward to for some time with both managerial teams familiar to both clubs and quality players on show.

Admission £12/£6 on gate or online at and match programme £2 and golden goal tickets £1.

PS: A note for Cray Wanderers supporters that the 100 Club Draw for January will take place at half time.  Results will be published here in due course.