Cray Wanderers take a break from league action on Saturday as the FA Cup Preliminary Round takes centre stage. The Wands face new opponents as Rusthall make their first ever trip to Hayes Lane. Kick off is 3pm. If the game ends in a draw the replay will take place on Wednesday night.
Cray have got off to a solid start to the season with two league wins and a Kent Senior Cup victory and looked very assured against Whitstable Town on Sunday with second half goals from Junior Dadson and Aaron Rhule enough to be beat durable opponents. Defensively Cray were excellent with Marcus Evans and Tom Phipp playing extremely well and the midfield seemed to be ticking over nicely and Cray were able to fashion chances which but for the Oystermen keeper could have been an even bigger victory.
Tony Russell in his post match analysis was very pleased with the two clean sheets although maybe could have been a bit more clinical in the final third but this was the first time since 2006 that Cray have won their opening two league games and sets up an intriguing game on Bank Holiday Monday against Sittingbourne, another team with maximum points.
Before that, Cray look to get their FA Cup campaign underway and will need to be at their very best as Rusthall will be relishing the occasion and will provided tough opposition. Wands fans need no reminding that Cray were beaten at home by SCEFL Premier opposition last season when Sevenoaks Town won 3-2 at the same stage so there will be no complaceny.
Rusthall reached the Preliminary Round with an impressive 3-0 win against Wick in the Extra-Preliminary Round on 12th August. Goals from Tom Cameron, Alex Carey and Callum Strachan were enough to put Andrew McKechnie’s team through. This was their first ever FA Cup victory. Due to pitch improvements at their Jockey Farm ground, the game was played at Tunbridge Wells’ Culverden stadium and their four SCEFL Premier league games so far have all been away from home. They won impressively 3-1 at Crowborough Athletic and were beaten in their other games at Canterbury City, Deal Town and at Corinthian on Tuesday and lie 16th in the table. Last season was their first in the SCEFL Premier and finished in 19th place.
Rusthall, which is located just outside of Tunbridge Wells were formed in 1899 and competed in the Tunbridge Wells District League for many years winning the league ten times including four in a row in the 1920’s. They remained there until 1983 when they entered the Kent County League. They won back to back promotions from Division Two West and Division One West in their first couple of seasons. They won the Division One West title again in 2004-05 and gained promotion to the Kent County League Premier Division. They remained there until 2011-12 when they were accepted into the relatively new Kent Invicta League (now SCEFL Division One) and in 2016-17 were promoted as runners up to reach the SCEFL Premier Division.
Games at Hayes Lane are rarely dull and this should be a cracking and enjoyable cup tie. Admission costs are £10 adults, £5 concessions/U16s/Students on presentation of card. Please note season tickets are not valid for this game and the £5 entry offer for Season ticket holders of Premiership, Football League or National League clubs does not apply for cup ties.