Cray Wanderers look to end a run of seven games without a win on Saturday as they aim to complete a league double over South Park. This will be the first ever league game between the teams at Hayes Lane, kick off at 3pm.
The Wands last victory came at South Park on 8th February when Luke Medley’s hat-trick helped Cray to a 4-1 win. At that time, Tony Russell’s side were just outside the playoff places but since then the results have dipped and Cray are now in a mid-table position of 12th with eight games still to play.
Last time out, Cray were beaten 2-4 at East Grinstead where Cray certainly had a number of opportunities to score but came away with just Medley’s brace of penalties to show for it. Sometimes in a difficult league run it can be hard to pinpoint positives but certainly the form of Medley has been impressive as has been his link up play with Danny Haynes and has 24 league goals to his name. Ben Mundele had a good game up at East Grinstead but it was Jay Leader in particular who stood out on the afternoon with a fine shift as captain in the absence of the suspended Lea Dawson and set a great example with his all action style.
Often when looking to break a winless run, you perhaps need an ugly win to set you on your way again and certainly Cray could do with an untidy three points to get them back on track. The Wands last home win came on 2nd January against Chatham Town so are massively due a change of fortune at home.
The Wands opponents, South Park have had a busy week and are one point and place above Cray as they aim for a playoff place with a batch of games in hand on the contending teams. Due to a backlog of games partly through an excellent run in the FA Trophy, Malcolm Porter’s side beat Faversham Town 2-1 on Saturday to go above Cray, then on Monday night were beaten 1-2 at home to Whyteleafe. This was followed by a 1-1 draw at Herne Bay on Wednesday night when a last minute equaliser denied the Sparks three points. They face a similar week next week with the game against Cray on Saturday followed by home games against Lewes and Chatham Town on Monday and Wednesday. The leading scorer is Kieran Lavery with 24 goals, level with Luke Medley and four behind league top scorer, Carshalton Athletics’ Tommy Bradford.
Their FA Trophy run saw them beat Guernsey, Faversham Town, Hastings United, Oxford City and North Leigh taking South Park to the 2nd Round where they drew a plum tie at Tranmere and were not disgraced in a 1-4 defeat. Away form has been very good with 11 wins on their travels including victories at Greenwich Borough, Lewes, Hythe Town and Corinthian Casuals so will come to Hayes Lane full of confidence.
South Park have made solid progress climbing the non-league pyramid in recent years. They were founded in 1897 but spent many years in Surrey district leagues, merging with Reigate Town FC in 2001. Their climb up the leagues started in earnest in 2006 with promotion from the Crawley and District League to the Combined Counties Division One where they entered the FA Vase for the first time. In 2010 they made their first foray into the FA Cup and after beating Greenwich Borough and Horsham YMCA they drew Cray Wanderers in the only previous competitive encounter at Hayes Lane. The Ryman Premier Wands in their 150th Centenary season struggled to break down their Step 6 opponents but a last minute Lol Hamici goal gave ten man Cray a 1-0 win. That season (2010-11) they gained promotion to the Combined Counties Premier. They reached the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup in 2012-13 and the following season, they won the Combined Counties league to gain promotion to the Ryman League for the first time. Their first season in the Ryman South ended in a 14th placed finish and last season they came 11th in the final table.
Games at Hayes Lane are always entertaining and full of goals but a solid and dour 1-0 win would definitely please the Cray faithful come Saturday evening on this occasion.
Admission cost are: £10.00 adults, £4.00 Concessions/U16s