Cray Wanderers vs Merstham – Pitching In Isthmian Premier – Weds, 28th October, 7.45pm – Match Preview


Cray Wanderers return to league action on Wednesday with a rare home match in the 2020-21 season with Merstham the visitors to Hayes Lane in the Isthmian Premier. Kick off 7.45pm.

Cray will be looking to bounce back after Saturday’s FA Cup defeat at Canvey Island and look to build on the positives of the performance such as the second half and could have possibly turned the 3-0 deficit round with goals from Joe Taylor and Lee Lewis and but for some great saves from home keeper Bobby Mason to deny Bradley Pritchard and Taylor late on may well have taken the game to penalties. In the end it wasn’t to be but with games coming thick and fast at the end of October and through November there is no time to dwell too much on the events of Saturday.

The Wands lie 7th in the league table and a victory on Wednesday night will leave Cray three points off leaders Worthing and Cheshunt ahead of the FA Trophy tie at Whitehawk on Saturday and a busy November. Cray’s last league outing was an impressive 3-1 win at a very decent Haringey Borough side on 17th October and was a gritty, well earned three points much like many of the games last season.

Ben Mundele was suspended on Saturday and could return against the Moatsiders but Barney Williams was hurt in the warm-up at Canvey and could miss the game with injury but generally the injury situation which was a problem at the start of the season is beginning to ease.

Frank Wilson’s Merstham side are currently bottom of the table but would be foolhardy in this league to look at the league position too closely at this still early stage of the season even though we are at the end of October. Merstham have 4 points from their 7 games played and on Saturday were beaten 1-4 at home to Potters Bar Town, Yannick Monga who scored against Cray last season getting the goal. Away from home they drew at East Thurrock United 2-2 but lost at Hornchurch (1-2) and Lewes (0-1). At home, Merstham beat Corinthian Casuals 3-0 on 29th September and lost 0-1 to Enfield Town. Their FA Cup ambitions ended after a penalty shoot-out defeat to AFC Dunstable in the 1st Qualifying Round. Merstham begin their FA Trophy campaign at home to Carshalton Athletic on Saturday.

Last season was a bit of a struggle at times for Merstham and were 21st when the season ended abruptly in March. Cray won both fixtures last season, 2-1 away on 15th October with Joe Taylor and Bradley Pritchard scoring and 3-1 at home on 1st March with Taylor (2) and Pritchard the scorers. They’ve added to their squad in the last few weeks with some new loan arrivals, keeper Tyler Dickinson from QPR, Jude Mason from Sutton United and Jack Leahy an U18s player at Brighton who scored in the draw at East Thurrock United. Also striker Calum Davies returned to the club following a spell at East Grinstead Town.

Merstham were founded in 1892 and five years later joined the Redhill & District League where they won five titles between 1926-27 – 1950-51 and then moved on to the Surrey Intermediate League. They then moved to the Surrey Senior League in 1965 winning the title in 1971-72 and then on to the London Spartan League in 1978, the year that Cray moved to the Kent League.

In 1984 Merstham moved to the Combined Counties League and in 2003 went into the Premier Division, In 2007-08 they won promotion to the Isthmian Division One South as champions and also reached the last 8 of the FA Vase. They became mainstays of the Isthmian South and in 2014-15 after finishing fourth they won promotion after beating Faversham Town and impressively 3-0 at Folkestone Invicta in the Playoff Final to gain promotion to the Premier. In 2016-17 they made national headlines by reaching the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup for the first time and staged a televised tie against Oxford United. Last season was a good one for the Moatsiders who finished in their highest ever league placing of fifth and won 2-0 at Carshalton in the Playoff semi-final. They eventually missed out on promotion losing 0-2 at Tonbridge Angels in the final. After that manager Hayden Bird and many of those players went on to Kingstonian for the start of last season with former Tooting & Mitcham United manager Frank Wilson taking charge.

Tickets are available to purchase at £10.00 and £5.00 from the tickets page and also there will be cash admission on the night. Also up to 50 free tickets are available each league game this season to NHS staff on presentation of ID/Photocard.